What A Graphic Designer Costs


Budgeting For A Designer

So you’re in the market for a graphic designer. You’ve looked at websites and portfolios, talked to friends and colleagues about people they know, maybe tried a family member or friend, or tried to learn on your own. But now it’s time to hire a professional. How much should it cost?

Two things are working in your favor (and against designers): one, there is a flood of graphic designers entering the market; and  two, the recent recession has driven many to lower rates in order to survive. You can find graphic designers at ridiculous rates these days. Anywhere from $0 to $200 an hour with the old adage “What you pay for is what you get” not really applying in all situations. So finding a graphic designer that suits your budget needs is pretty easy. There are a few considerations before choosing a graphic designer (more on that here), but once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of designers it’s time to set your budget.

One of the most talked about issues among freelancers is the reluctance that customers have about sharing their financial goals because it makes our job more difficult. For people who create art it helps to know as much as possible about the final product.

The overall budget may impact the amount of time a graphic designer can spend on a design, or what options are available for the final print such as paper weight, ink types, paper finish, and quantities, for example. Having an idea of how much you want to spend will greatly help a graphic designer make decisions about the design work. Even if you are unsure of what to spend most graphic designers will give you a free consultation to help better define budgetary concerns.

A Sample Project

Let’s say that you want to try putting together a brochure. You know that your customers are asking for information and that you could benefit from having materials to leave behind for people to pick up and peruse. To print 100 to 250 Brochures you can expect to pay $150 to $300 depending on the printing company and their options. Note: I would avoid trying to print materials on your desktop printer – this turns into a bigger hassle than it’s worth and has many defects in print quality ultimately making your business appear cheap.

Then add to that graphic design services and you might see costs laid out like this (more $ = higher rate):

  • $ or $$ Concepts or comprehensive layouts (aka “comps”)
  • $$ or $$$ Front + back layout & graphics, full color
  • $ Edits/Revisions
  • $$ or $$$ Photography
  • $ or $$ Stock image licensing
  • $ or $$ Photo touch-up, color correction for printing
  • $$ or $$$ Copy writing
  • $ or $$ Final edits, checks (more if getting press checks)
  • $ Delivery

If you have a budget in mind a graphic designer can make suggestions to meet your financial goals by customizing the above list to fit the margins. For example, if you are looking to spend under $500, including printing, I can suggest that we go without concepts or comps, limit editing and revisions, and keep images to a minimum while you provide the text. For a basic package like this I would ask for between $150 to $300 for the layout and creation of any custom graphics. I would also suggest a paper size, weight, finish, and quantity that would be in the range of $100 to $150 dollars from a professional print company, saving you anywhere from $250 to $50.

It’s good business for graphic designers to work with you this way and if you are ever in doubt you can ask for a detailed breakdown of costs.

Solo vs. Studio

Worth mentioning is the difference between solo designers and design studios. Generally speaking solo designers or artists will be less expensive while studios largely charge more. The trade off is in the resources. Studios will have a wider range of equipment and talent and can give you a pretty comprehensive service if you need a website as well as printed material or other marketing services.

Solo designers, while often lower in cost, tend to specialize in a field such as book cover design, or logos. This allows them to be really good in a narrow field, sometimes working for larger studios to fill in talent gaps. Going this route you are likely to end up with real talent for the specific job you need done, but ask for a wider range of services and you’ll probably see quality diminish.

Budget For Success

As always there are exceptions to the rule, but no matter what you look for having a budget will help make your project successful. It helps the designer determine what options are available to you and ensures that you get the best quality work for your needs. If you want to control for costs, it’s better to share information than hide it. Most designers are not out to nickel-and-dime you to death – that’s bad business. But if you don’t quite have that trust you can always ask for a breakdown of costs.

Any thoughts? Please leave a comment and don’t forget to share with your friends as well.



Copyright 2014 © Robert C. Olson