Graphic Design Pricing Guidelines
Determining your fees can be tricky. There’s a fine line between too much and too little. You want to be competitively priced while also ensuring profitability (we are in business to make money, right?).

Flat or Hourly Billing.

The first step is deciding whether a flat rate or an hourly billing system is right for your business.

Hourly Billing

Here at Productions M.A.D.E. we work with both flat rate and hourly billing.
If a client asks us: “How do you derive your estimates?” we will tell them: “It’s based on hourly billing rates.” But we no longer give the client a line-by-line breakdown of how we’re adding up those hours. We also stopped showing them the hours we’ve actually worked, which we used to do. Sometimes we eat hours. Clients don’t like it when you go over budget. If a client stays “on scope” and we just go over budget because we misquoted, or the client was a little pickier than we expected, we will eat a number of hours to try and close out the project on budget. I think we would be willing to eat up to 20% of the project’s hours to try and come in on budget. This puts a little pressure back on us to work efficiently and to quote accurately. However, we make sure to let our client know the value they’re getting. We’ll trumpet the fact that they just got X hours of free design services so we could stay on budget. However, if the client is going WAY over budget, then we start billing them again, but at our hourly  rate.”

Our quote is an estimate based on an hourly rate. If your project goes over budget we will be billing you at $XX dollars an hour. We are going to work very hard to stay on budget. Our quoting is typically very accurate, but you need to be aware of this policy.’

Flat Rate Billing

When we work with a client who wants a flat rate. Should this be the case, we would be sure to discuss all of the project details and manage expectations at the onset.
We mostly work with fixed prices, for everyday artwork aka everyday prints. Sometimes hourly rates scares the clients off. They often ask for more hours to put into and in the end it’s a ridiculous amount of money I have to ask them to pay. The amount you know they won’t pay anyway.
In our fixed prices I include the amount of rounds of feedback we would do, the copyright (will it be a year, two years, or a buy out? Will it be for a magazine, commercial or the web? Will they sell it to someone else? etc.), how long I think I’ll work on it and the deadline. It’s a different price when a client wants a project done within 24 hours or when they want me to have a lot of freedom and the deadline is in 3 months or so.


Establish your rates.

At Productions M.A.D.E., we have different rates depending on the service. We design at $60/hour, develop at $80 and consult at $40/hour.
We also take into account the type of client. We have different pricing for graphic design, web design, illustration, consulting, project management, etc. It all varies on the client. If it’s a small start-up or big corporate gig. I can say the general hourly range is between $40-200.”

Deposits
At Productions M.A.D.E., we like to collect a security deposit before we ‘kickoff’ any project. Our policy is 50% of the project total for those under $5,000 and 25% for those over $5,000.
*Note that this is a non-refundable deposit.
**Another policy we have is a late fee; after 90 days, we add 15% to the project cost.

Other than the initial deposit required to ‘kickoff’ a project, our most important billing policy is the payment installment process.
At the beginning of every project, in addition to a detailed timeline, a client is given a payment schedule that identifies the dates and amount we will be billing along the course of the project. This method ensures there are no surprises regarding payment!

Our installment documentation looks something like this:

  • 12/15 – Payment Installment no. 1 of 4: $2,125

  • 01/15 – Payment Installment no. 2 of 4: $2,125

  • 02/14 – Payment Installment no. 3 of 4: $2,125

  • 03/14 – Payment Installment no. 4 of 4: $2,125


Of course, adjustments are needed here and there if a project is completed earlier or later than estimated, but that time is small in comparison to the time it used to take. It’s made things much clearer and more straightforward for the client, as well.

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