A transparent and honest conversation around some of the most hushed yet hot topics amongst the freelance design community.
Hey guys glad to have you here and I’m looking forward to this series becoming a space where we can break through the secrecy and come together on topics that aren’t always discussed as openly as we would like.
Let’s kick things off with the most HUSHED yet HOT topic - Pricing!
We’re talking about pricing yourself and your work to an industry standard and in line with experience you have. I’m going to discuss my personal thoughts on this, share links to my personal pricing as well as answer a bunch of questions that came in from fellow designers in my Instagram community.
Happy reading and please feel free to share this post with fellow designers looking for some real responses to their most pressing pricing questions.
Join me on the gram' and feel free to check out this post to read some insights from other designers on this topic.
So, a little backstory on why I’m writing this in the first place. When I launched my website earlier this month, I bit the bullet and explicitly listed pricing guidelines for every single service I offer. It was met with a mix of applause for my bravery and concerns as to why I would disclose those details. I was cautioned around the fact that potential clients would walk away from me because of it, or clients might use my rates to shop around and strike better deals etc.
Now, I don’t question the validity of these comments and I’m aware that my decision may well result in less people contacting me, but I am still confident I did the right thing. Here's why...
Firstly, I now know that clients who contact me are doing so in spite of my pricing which means they truly resonate with my style and want to work with me. And that my friends, is worth its weight in gold to me!
Secondly, when I first began, I struggled long and hard to figure out what the heck my time and skills were valued at and how I price myself. No matter where I looked or asked, I couldn’t quite get a direct answer. All I wanted was a real life example of what an industry standard is, so I could price myself fairly while being realistic about my own skills and experience.
So, when it came down to creating my own website and platform, I felt compelled to be that person I was looking for, and I wanted to provide the pricing information I was so desperately seeking.
That said, it is a vulnerable thing to share details like your process and pricing so I hope that we can respect the sharing of this kind of info and instead of seeing it as a competition, we use this transparency to come together, raise the bar and send a unified message on the worth and value of our work.
You can check out my personal pricing breakdown on my service pages over here. I’ve also outlined my entire process here to assure clients that the price I charge reflects a holistic and wholesome design experience from start to finish.
To put the pricing in context, I need to mention where I’m currently at in terms of skill and experience. I have been freelancing for about 3 three years on a part time basis and my experience includes working for print studios in Australia and the US and a handful of direct clients working on projects that required motif and illustration work as well as repeat prints.
My pricing is reflective of the entire custom process and service I provide. So, taking all this into consideration I feel comfortable with the pricing I’ve listed and I’d say these are probably mid-level rates for custom design so there is definitely scope to review it as I grow my experience and add to my skills and portfolio.
Now, the part I'm sure you’re here for - the answers to YOUR questions!
I received these from fellow designers in my Instagram community. Before we dive in, I just wanted to highlight a couple of things - my experience and insight is predominantly within the Australian and US market. I have however, cross checked my info with a UK based designer to share info around that market.
Secondly, the pricing and numbers I’ve mentioned are a base and reflect what prints sell for on an average and what the fashion industry is used to paying when they purchase from print studios etc. A custom design process however, provides your clients with a lot more than a print on a fabric header. So it's important to consider your time and all the admin related effort and costs when quoting for a custom project.
Okay, let's get to these questions!
What is a ballpark pricing for simple repeat patterns?
First let’s define simple. We’re talking 1-2 motifs, minimal detail and simple layout. I personally wouldn’t go below the AUD350 mark for any kind of custom designed exclusive pattern. This is a good starting point for simple patterns and can be scaled depending on your skills and experience.
I know the standard price for fashion + textiles is $450ish. Do you charge more for detailed work?
Yes! Don’t forget, a personalised custom process and ongoing access to YOU, is part of why you charge what you charge. The average may be AUD/USD450 but I’d say really involved prints can go much higher depending on what’s involved. Hero prints for fashion can go up to AUD800-850 and for homewares like bedlinen prints etc you are looking at AUD1200+
How do we charge for detailed watercolour illustrations? Eg- a single stem flower.
Okay for something like this, I would say work out a price based on the number of hours it is likely to take you and times that by your hourly rate and you should have an indication of how fair the price is. Single illustrations are too small a project to include the full custom process. An a la carte option is probably best in this case.
So, for a job like this - I would talk to my client and agree upfront on a certain amount of time it would take me to do the illustration and any extras or revisions they require, would be an additional charge.
Would love to know how the prices translate to the UK market?
Okay, for my UK designer friends the average sell price for a custom print is around £350. (I've confirmed this with a fellow designer based in London) If I were to translate that to Australian standards it works out to around AUD640 which is pretty on par with the rates here.
What service do your clients use to pay you?
For all my Aussie clients I request direct bank transfer. International clients use PayPal. There are nasty fees associated with services like PayPal but it’s just the safest way for me and my clients so I go with it. I should add all my projects are quoted in either USD or AUD.
Okay, I’ve just looked back on this post and it’s gone longer than I expected and I still have a few questions left so I’m going to hit pause here, let you take it all in, and come back to the rest of the questions over the next couple of weeks.
Here’s what’s ahead…
...It’s great to know pricing per print but what kind of annual salary does that equate to?
...Do you licence your work, is there is formula for that?
...If a client finds us too expensive, how do we earn?
...Where do I set the standard? How do I know what I’m worth?
I also have some handy links to share for your further reading so please check back in when the next post is published. I really hope this was a valuable read for you guys! Share it around with anyone you think might benefit from it and spread the word that pricing is no longer a taboo topic ;) Not here anyway! Comments on this post open so leave me your messages, questions and any feedback you have and I will take it all on board. I'm also happy to receive a DM over on instagram so find me there and let's keep talking.