Time is money.
This is especially true for freelancers who get paid by the hours they put in or the project that they finish. Graphic design is one of the most in demand freelance stints today where competition is tough. As a freelance graphic designer, it is important that you get what your time, work, and talent are worth.
Why Graphic Design Hourly Rates are Tricky
When you are a full-time employee, your company would take care of taxes, health care, licensing, and other business essentials. Usually when the employee receives their pay, it has already been calculated so that what they get is only their net worth.
This is not the case for freelancers.
As a self-employed worker, you need to take care of taxes, health care, and other necessary payables as prescribed by law.
The amount you charge for your work may not also be the same for all projects that you take under your wing. This rings true especially for people in the graphic design field. Each project is unique and comes with a different set of targets and expectations and rules from the clients. Every project you design will demand different amounts of time and test your skill and talent in different levels.
Hourly vs Per Project: A Graphic Designer’s Dilemma
One of the first dilemmas that may derail you when setting charges for your services is whether to go for hourly or per project rates. Once you get settled on what works best for you, it becomes easier to pinpoint what constitutes your service fees.
Graphic Design Rates per Project
Getting paid for every project you work on means you don’t need to watch out for the amount of hours you put in. Graphic designing is creative work. And for people who are committed to this craft, it is easy to get carried away and lose track of time. This is a no-no if you are paid by the hour.
With a per-project payment basis, it is more convenient to switch back and forth between projects without having to keep a close eye on how many hours you invested. Being conscious of this can even interfere with one’s work because the artist cannot be fully immersed into their creative zone.
The downside of per-project payment for graphic design is that you need to quote a price even before you started. There is no knowing how much work a project will demand out of you. You may overrate or underrate a project and find out later that it demanded little or more of your effort and time. This miscalculation may be most common for novices.
Another disadvantage is that you need to provide a timeframe to your client in terms of when you can finish the project. This is later translated into a quote which the client accepts or refuses. Because of this set time frame, you need to be rigid as to meet the deadline that was agreed upon. Otherwise, you may ask for extra time and may need to come up with a new quote. Remember that your performance, in addition to your actual finish work, will also be a deciding factor on whether clients will be repeat patrons of your work.
Graphic Design Rates per Hour
Getting paid based on the hours you put in is the most straightforward payment term in graphic designing. This is the safest route because the designer is salaried in the traditional way. When things get sticky with your project and you need to put in extra time to finish, you are sure to get paid for the extended hours.
Getting paid by the hour also means not having to worry about scrimping your work to fit in a timetable of deadline. You do not have to compromise the quality of work just to make sure the deadline of submission is met. As a creative worker, you get more freedom to focus on the project itself and get into the zone of creating rather than regularly check if you still have enough time left.
This luxury of freedom affords you to tap on your creative side more closely and produce a project where you pour in as much skill and talent without being bothered by schedules.
Before you decide to get paid by the hour, you need to decide how and what constitutes a work hour that your client will pay for.
This can get a bit tricky. Do you count your lunch hour and break time? Is the amount of time spent researching also gets billed? Clients may also have their take in terms of what constitutes your work hour. They want to ensure that the hours they pay you for are only for the time you spend on their projects and not on anything unrelated. When naming your price, such as $75 or $100 per hour, the clients may feel this to be steep as compared to when you quote a price for completed work.
Weigh your options by knowing what kind of project you have at hand. Does it require research? Is it a big project that will map out for months? For such cases, it is wiser to charge per hour. If in doubt, get a freelancer agreement that gets you covered.