On Pricing Your Work: Be Fair to Yourself

Image credit: Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

What is your work worth to you?

A lot of designers and artists undervalue their work especially when they are just starting out in the industry as freelancers. However, you will eventually come to realise that you should always try to be fair to yourself when you put a price on your work.

The value you place on your work is the value others will put on it as well. Besides, I am sure that you would not want anyone to misinterpret “cheap” for mediocre work.

Pause for a moment and think about all the creative effort and never-ending hours that goes into your work. This is a great exercise for constructing prices for your services. Focus on making prices reasonable to the prospective market.

Your goal is to succeed in getting serious customers, build your portfolio and reputation and grow your business. Once you have accomplished getting customers, you eliminate the people who claim to want your services, but are not serious. Some of the telltale signs of this special bunch usually include the following:

  • Cheap; always desire to negotiate to lower prices;
  • Fail to understand your value-added;
  • Do not consider the creativity and hours spent on each design; and
  • Lack perception on art and design

Be fair to yourself and you will never have to work with those persons in your career.

Speaking from both professional and personal experience, the people who value quality will pay for quality. Fret not. The best decision I ever made for my graphic design business was increasing my initial prices.

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5 Replies to “On Pricing Your Work: Be Fair to Yourself”

  1. I totally agree! something I also learned early on, many people will devalue your work for you… IF you let them. I learned quickly their are a lot of people who want top quality work at rock bottom prices. And I must say that I think “part” of the problem, though I admit only part, is many freelancers and even companies from overseas (i.e. India, Pakistan, etc.) are pretty much low-balling the market and driving customer expectation of pricing down. Now don’t get me wrong, im not mad at them, I know everyone deserves a fair chance to work & support their family. And I realized we are very blessed and more “rich” than many other people in the world. But I guess that’s just the nature of the biz. There are many people who can do graphic design from home with a little skill, creativity, and the tools. But I would also encourage everyone, as Phil mentioned, to seriously think about how much time & energy, not to mention creativity & talent, goes into your designs. If we price too low, were busting out butts just to make ends meat. I have lost a client or 3 im sure due to pricing, but I also have many others who love my work and see its value. Some of the best advise I ever heard from other more seasoned designers: be fair to the client & YOURSELF in pricing, lay everything on the table upfront (like possible add-on charges) so there is no confusion down the road, and find a niche area of design you are good at & really work that niche. Don’t try to be all things to all people… it can be very stressful and you risk putting out lower quality of work.

  2. I love my indie friends online who write genre fiction – mystery, SFF, romance, and ever smaller gradations within these, but can’t copy their methodology: write a lot, charge very little, and essentially feed the voracious market who love the same, only more of it. They have been more than generous with help and advice.

    But my kind of writing is dead in the water if I try to adopt their pricing strategies: I write mainstream contemporary fiction on the literary end of the spectrum, and it takes me a very long time to do so.

    So instead I price where I think I should – and periodically run a 0.99 sale. Which sells a few.

    Several people have commented I price too high. I don’t think I do – and I’m wary of attracting the genre readers, because I won’t fulfill their expectations. Unhappy readers means bad reviews (one reader already left me a 2* because I was ‘too long’ for a Romance – which it isn’t – and she didn’t like the quotations at the beginning of my chapters because she could often not figure out why they were there until she was almost through the chapter; a feature, not a bug!

    It is a nice little niche if I can get it – indie literary/contemporary novels – and people who buy traditionally-published mainstream novels often pay more for an ebook than I charge ($8.99). I just have to get their attention. I think they will like my books.

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