How much should I charge as a new freelancer getting started?

How much should I charge?

This is the first article in a new category I’m starting for my blog: Reader Questions. I’ll be answering questions that I’m often asked by young designers just starting out in their careers. If you have questions about freelancing, graphic design, web design, or anything really, I’ll do my best to find the answer for you. It’s not like I’m some wise old world-renowned designer pro, but I’ve learned a few things over the past 5 7 years as a freelancer.

Our first question is from Nick Elam who contacted me through Facebook:

Hey Paris,
We got the brochure (actually it was a rack card because we didn’t want to spend a lot printing brochures) printed. They look nice. I got Office Max to print them for us because we only needed 100 and Office Max is pretty good at small print jobs like that. (The Green Printing company you suggested would have been great had we needed more than 100…)
Someone received on of the cards last night and asked me how much I would charge to design a postcard for their company. As a beginner, how should I decide how much to charge? They said they could handle the printing, they just need an eye-catching design. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this. So far I have just done volunteer work. Could you give me some advice?
Thanks,
Nick

Thanks for the question, Nick. Pricing is a challenge for every new freelancer. It’s hard deciding how much your passion and energy are worth.  Here are a few things to remember that will make the process easier.

How to decide what to charge

  1. Watch the clock. Start timing yourself today. This will give you an idea of how long it takes you to finish different aspects of your job. Figure in how much you need/want to make per hour and you’ve got an idea of how much to charge. Using this information is key to giving an accurate quote in the future. Even if you don’t charge by the hour, knowing a rough estimate of how long a project will take can save you from over committing yourself.
  2. Ask questions. Every job is different. Get as much info as possible up front. I send my clients a survey, or questionnaire to help better understand each project before giving any specific prices. You don’t want to get locked in to a project at a certain price without knowing the details. The client may not think to mention [random detail], because they assume it isn’t a big deal. Well, [random detail] is a big deal, and will probably cause the project to double in price. It is your job to gather the info. You’re the professional. You’re responsible.
  3. Look around. Consider what other people charge for the same service you offer. You want to be priced competitively, especially if you’re a new freelancer. Why would the client pay you a great deal more for the same thing they could get cheaper from someone else? You better have one heck of a portfolio if you expect to charge high above the industry standard for your services.

Taking the time to get things right from the start will save hours in later. Using this process should help you come to a more exact quote in less time and with less headache.

For those interested, I would probably charge between $250 – $1,000 for the job Nick mentioned in his question.

Check these links out for more detailed info on figuring our exactly how much to charge:

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parisvega

Earth rider. Product Manager/Designer guy by day. Dirt, plants, wood and concrete by night. #permaculture

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