The much skirted around topic of pricing...

I've been working on refining my pricing process, and have encountered some issues. I'm not really in a spot where I can turn down work, but some clients are downright insulting with what they expect to pay.

Any tips on pricing from some more seasoned freelancers?


I had the same problem years ago. It wasn't until I set a firm floor, a bare minimum that I'll accept for work, that I started actually making a living. I've turned down so much work over the last few years and even though there are times I wish I had that extra money, the clients I have refused to compromise my pricing for eventually comeback and comeback aware of the additional costs and benefits of working with me.

Aside from passion projects and personal favors, don't compromise your floor because you need something to stand on.

The model that works best for me is to create my estimates based on the time it will take me to complete each step of the project, with plenty of buffer as everything seems to take longer in real life, than in my imagination. Tack on your hourly rate (for either hourly or fixed bids), and stick with the formula no matter what.

If a client is not willing to pay your estimate, you can offer to do less work (3 logo concepts instead of 4, or only include 2 rounds of revisions in your bid and overage is hourly), which will reduce the total price of the estimate but does not devalue your time. If the perspective client still doesn't want to pay, let them go.

This effectively sets a firm rate for your time, and helps you filter out perspective clients who do not appreciate what you do, or what it takes to do it right. I understand that you don't want to let projects go, and turning down $$$ is hard at first, but working with a client that doesn't value you is the worst kind to have.

The book The Business Side of Creativity: The Complete Guide for Running a Graphic Design or Communications Business by Cameron S. Foote has very good insight into pricing.

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