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How to price your services

I don't know a single designer who hasn't at one point doubted how much to charge. Design is a job that has lots of competitions and lots of tiers.

When I started my business eight years ago, I guessed how much to charge for each project, and more often than not, I would undercharge.

As web designers, we often suffer from impostor syndrome. As a result, most of us doubt our abilities, and sites like dribbble can really hit our egos.

I've doubted myself many times, thinking there are "better" designers than me for a project. I've come to realize this mentality belittles my work and forbids me from charging what you are worth. I don't want you to make the same mistake. So, let get started…

Don't give away your work.

I'm not against doing pro-bono work. However, I am against paying to work.

Design software, courses, hardware, etc., all cost YOU money. So when you decide not to charge for a project, you are paying to work.

A common mistake I see often is thinking that something is easy and will only take you a few minutes to make. For example, I vectorized a few logos because "I have the tools, and it is easy."

In reality, I have the tools because I've paid for them. My computer and Adobe subscription both cost me money. So when you give away your work, you are paying to work.

In these types of projects, consider charging the minimum to recoup your costs - or consider raising your prices so that other projects pay for this type of work.

Know your baseline

You need to know what your competition is charging for the same kind of project.

A few books in the market supposedly tell you how much to charge for a project. Unfortunately, in my experience, these books are often wrong.

The market, services, and technologies are too many variables to consider, and every business is different.

Eight years ago, my friends and I called a few professional designers and asked for quotes. Almost every design studio saw through our lies.

So, I wouldn't recommend it.

However, a designer agreed to meet with us and told us his pricing strategy:

See how much value they are going to get, and price accordingly

Ok. So it wasn't as straightforward as we wanted. But so far, it is the only pricing strategy that has worked for me.

So, either way, let me show you how I determine my prices.

  1. Know how much you spend on your business (without projects)
  2. Investigate how much the kind of life you want costs
  3. Determine how many hours a day you want to work
  4. Multiply it by 20 (which is the number of weekdays in a month)
  5. Ask yourself realistically how many projects you'd like to work on
  6. Calculate how much each project would cost you

That should tell you the minimum per project you should charge. So, for example, if I want to earn 10K a month with four projects, I know I can't charge less than 2.5k per project and that it can be longer than 40 hours (a week) because I need at least for of these projects.

However, as you may have realized, the pricing does not only depend on you. So keep an eye on the market. Even if you believe your services are worth a million dollars, if the market does not think so, you will not get paid.

Get to know your clients.

I want to go back briefly to what this designer told me. Knowing how valuable are your services to your clients will help you price them more easily.

For that reason, I recommend getting to know your clients before sending a quote. The easiest way I've found to do it is to schedule a discovery call and ask all the necessary questions.

These questions help you understand your clients' scope, financial situation, expectations, marketing efforts, and budget.

After the call, I usually give myself a day or two to rate my prospects.

Depending on the discovery call, I rate them according to 3 categories:

  • Do I like the project, and can I do it?
  • Do I like the client?
  • Do they have the budget?

If they approve the three categories, I send them a quote. If not, I kindly explain that I am not the right person for the job.

Conclusion

Pricing your services is not always an easy thing to do. However, it does become easier with experience.

But there are a few steps you can take to help you determine what your services are worth, the minimum you need to charge to make it viable and know if your clients can afford you.

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