As a freelancer designer, many go into it for the freedom. Hell, I know I did! However, what I did not understand was what to charge and why. Many times as a freelance designer, with it being such a competitive industry, you get scared to quote clients a higher price on a project being afraid of them saying “no”. In this case you end up doing a project for a cheap rate and overworking yourself, which quickly causes creative blocks or even design burnouts. For me personally, this has happened an unbelievable amount of times. You find yourself working all everyday, all night, barely having time for yourself and still end up $100 short on bills… like, how?!
It’s easy to fall into this pattern as a freelancer because sometimes, you feel like you need to make some quick money to pay the bills. You get in a frenzy and become stressed and start taking on any work that comes your way – because as the say – all money is green.
The best advice I can give : don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap!
I’ll share a few things below, that I wish along the way someone would have shared with me to avoid a lot of late night hours working for less than minimum wage.
- Know what to charge and why – research what freelance graphic designers in your area are charging, chances are, you aren’t charging enough. Look at both hourly and yearly wages. You have to remember when quoting a client to take into account that not only will likely have revisions, but also the time spent emailing, saving and converting files and the general necessities for running a business. Be sure that you are charging enough to sustain your general life necessities and to run your business for the span of the project. It’s going to take some organization and whether you are good with numbers or not be sure to write EVERYTHING down so that you know not only what to charge but why.
- Work with clients that value you as a designer – This goes a long way. You will find so many people, even larger businesses, that don’t understand the value of having an amazing freelance designer on your team. These are the people that will expect everything for a little bit of nothing. They will try to talk you down when you quote your prices. Stay away from them. You want to work with people that are willing to compensate you for your work with no problem. Someone who wants to establish a long term relationship versus just getting a few projects here and there. These clients are more than likely willing to lock into a freelance design contract and you will get paid on time. You must remember that when snagging larger clients – the value system is a 2-way street. Be sure that you are willing and ready to give in return for them respecting your craft and you will go a long way. When clients don’t value you as a designer, you will likely get delayed payments and projects, often. That’s a whole different spill, that’s what you don’t want as a freelance designer.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” – When quoting a client and they proceed to talk you down – don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t get desperate for money and be willing to accept anything. That’s how this happened in the first place. You may get 6 “no’s”, but that 7th “yes” will be more than worth it versus spending your time working endless hours for less than minimum wage. When you quote your rates, be confident in your craft. By getting what you are worth, you will be able to design from a good place and give your absolute best rather than rushing through projects and looking for your next paycheck.
I can reassure you that by doing all the above, you will come to really excel as a designer. It will not only show in your work, but just your general everyday attitude. You’ll finally have time to live life and you will begin to love what you do, rather than dread opening up emails everyday.
So, if you’re a freelance designer and you’re feeling used, stressed and drained – take some time out to reevaluate and know your worth as a designer. Do a little research and don’t be afraid to ask for what your worth is.
Feel free to share some of your experiences as a freelancer below 🙂