6 Tips for Newbie Graphic Designers Who Want to Increase Their Rates/Prices in 2017

In graphic design, it is important to avoid being a “commodity”. The founder and CEO of brand strategy design consultancy Blind, Chris Do, agrees that one of the things you’ll learn over time is that you’ll need to “make room for better clients”.

In order to gain more opportunities in the future, you’ll have to make the tough decision of leaving your comfort zone of existing clients.

As one self-taught graphic designer (Ben Burns) who moved from $400 to $30,000 logo designs said to me once, “It’d be hard for Tarzan to swing through the jungle if he never let go of a vine.” So sometimes grasping a new opportunity will take one hand as opposed to two.

Here are my six tips for budding graphic designers looking to make more money:

How Not to Work for Cheap

Every design project you complete takes you closer to being a better graphic designer.

It will be important for you to remain mindful that your value is increasing. With increased value and expertise comes the need to revise your rates. Do not fall into the trap of pricing your work at a lower rate than market rates just to land the next project.

Know your worth. One obvious indicator that you can raise your rates is being in demand.

Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Rates

Are you afraid to raise your rates? There’s absolutely no reason to feel this way.

Whether you studied graphic design in school or you’re self-taught, you should have confidence in your skill sets to know that you work is better than the competition’s.

When you think about every other professional out there (dentists, lawyers, doctors, architects, fashion designers, artists, etc.), they all charge what they know they’re worth.

For instance, let’s say you land a logo and identity project for a startup or established company; you want to come out the winner, so ensure you consider how much your client stands to make over the lifetime of the logo and identity.

All They Can Say Is No

Your ideas and time are valuable. If you feel your next logo design should cost $1,000 USD then charge that amount even if your previous rate was $100 (or significantly lower).

The worse thing that can happen is that you lose a prospective after you submit your quotation. It’s not the end of the world.

The people who understand the value your work will bring will pay what you’re asking. After all, creativity takes tremendous mental capacity, especially if you’re constantly doing custom work versus production work (templates).

Examine Your Present and Past Clientele

Some of you have been in busy for at least three years and you’ve just been getting by on minuscule earnings, even with a steady stream of design projects.

Perhaps it’s time you take a very bold step and being firing those nickel-and-dime clients. You know the one’s I’m referring to; they’re always asking for a discount and complaining about how “expensive” your quotations are.

But take my advice, this is a step in the right direction; this was the way I was able to charge more.

Look At the Prices of the Competition

It is important that you always try to recognise your value as your skills and work improve. As you grow, you’ll need to reassess your value as a graphic designer.

One way to tell what you ought to be charging is to take some time and examine the competition locally and internationally.

If you work is comparable or better than others in your industry, it’s one indicator that you should be offering your design and creative services for around the same price or significantly more — particularly if you bring more value to a design project.

You Are Not an Impostor

My final bit of advice to you, especially if you are self-taught, is to move beyond the “impostor syndrome”.

Just because you weren’t formally or classically trained in graphic design with a degree behind your name doesn’t make you any less of a graphic designer. Let your work speak for itself.

Go one step further and take some time to have clients write you a testimonial (three to five sentences) immediately after a design project completion. People like hearing from other people and not from the business/entrepreneur.

This will help boost your confidence to increase revenue. Once you’re able to embrace your abilities and authenticity, you’ll feel more justified in raising your prices.

 

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8 Tips for Making the Perfect Wedding Program

You’ve recently landed a design project to create a wedding program for an excited couple’s upcoming special day. Fantastic! My design process below offers some creative direction and inspiration to get the results that will satisfy your clients’ expectations.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than getting ready for the BIG wedding day. I should know since I got married back in 2014. You want all the details to be brilliant and exactly the way you dreamed them up in your head.

With all this in mind, when working for a bride-to-be, especially the ones who have an eye for detail, you’re going to need to be at your very best as you interpret what she says into what she wants. No pressure! You’ve got this! Besides, I’m here to help.

Here are my eight (8) phresh tips to make the perfect wedding program for your clients:

1. Meet with the happy couple and get a really good grasp on what their visions are for their wedding day – colours, mood, style, decor, etc. It’s important to ask all the right questions (examples below) in the first meeting, so you’ll have all the necessary information you need to get started.
What size wedding program do you have in mind?
What are the colours of the wedding?
What’s your personal taste/style?
Do you have some design ideas in mind?
What’s your deadline? [Always log your design times in a timesheet]

2. Afterwards, put together a simple or detailed creative/design brief based on the answers you received coupled with your creativity for what could be. It could be anywhere from a few sentences to a page or two. You just need to communicate the intended visual experience in not just words, but with images.

3. It’s time to choose a colour palette that captures and complements the colours and intended atmosphere/feel of the wedding. Remember that as their designer, part of your job also includes educating them on certain things like why one colour works over another and why some colours should never be combined.

purples-and-meanings

4. Find inspiration in what the couple likes…better yet, loves. Ask them to show you some examples of designs they fancy. It’s a lot easier to build on that and gives you the clear proverbial roadmap you’ll need to conjure up some ideas. [Don’t try to read minds]

5. Experiment with the creative direction using a combination of things:

Rough sketches offer tremendous flexibility to figure out concepts, so grab your pencil/pen and paper and get started;
• Design the bare minimum first (experimenting with fonts and layouts only), using the software you typically work in. Adobe InDesign (tutorials to get your started) is always my go-to software for work in print;
• Work fast and see if you’re on the right track by comparing work in progress to first creative/design brief.

philblog_small
My design process, where quickly put everything down on paper

6. Start adding requested colours, accents, and backgrounds (images or colours). Now comes the fun part, where you get to really personalise the design to reflect the wedding colour scheme by pulling inspiration from – bridal party outfits (dresses and suits) and accessories (like bouquets and ties, pocket squares, and lapel pins from Ocean Boulevard), plate settings, decorations, and so on.

wedding-image-pexels
Find inspiration for the colour palette in the planned decor | Image Credit: Pexels

7. Present two to three great options to your clients. Honestly, that’s typically the best approach to take. Flooding your clients with four or more options can get really confusing and overwhelming, so create as many designs as possible and then shortlist your top three.

8. Fine-tune final choice and make changes with a combination of client feedback and your own ideas. Make sure to give your clients the correct file format for print. May I suggest a high-quality PDF file (300 dpi).

So after all that, here’s the custom wedding program that I created for a very HAPPY couple!

Specifications:

  • Rustic Elegance
  • 3.5 inches x 7.5 inches
  • Double-sided
  • Purples and golds
  • Full colour
  • Card stock paper

 

presentation-of-program
The finished product features gold accents against a gradient backdrop of purple and mauve

To the designers, I hope you found my tips useful and I wish you good luck with your own creative projects for your clients’ wedding. I know you’ll do a stellar job.

If you’re getting married soon and you stumbled on this blog post and you’re interested in having Phresh Ideas and Designs craft your ideal wedding program or wedding stationery (invitations, save-the-date card(s), wedding program, directions/map card, table number cards, menu, etc.), drop me a line. And feel free to look around and see what other services I offer.

What Are Some of the Biggest Fears Every New Graphic Designer Encounters?

Two graphic designers sit down to discuss the initial struggles of pricing logo design in this interview via The Futur (link to YouTube Channel).

Half-way through the interview and everything already resonated with me. I’ve done this for the majority of my entire freelance graphic design career.

The hardest part is usually figuring out what to charge and for whatever reason there’s usually a fear that you’ll turn prospective clients away.

But, as I’ve come to learn for myself (first-hand experiences are invaluable), to get the kinds of clients you want, your prices have to be at a price point that demonstrates the value you’ll bring to each project.

At the end of the day, it’s all about believing in yourself (your creative ideas and abilities).

Enjoy the interview. It’s filled with insight and personal experiences that I’m certain you’ll find clearly relatable.

7 or 8 Tips to Help You Arrive at Rates That Define Your Value

As a freelance graphic designer, you spent your time giving and gaining new design experiences, whilst creating a client list and a reputation for putting out quality work. You acquire client testimonials, because tooting your own horn just isn’t going to cut it.

Every year you question whether or not you’re charging clients the right amount for design work completed; you look at the prices and you think you have. But have you really?

In business, knowing or even discovering your own monetary worth is one of those instances that requires a sometimes really long and hard look at all that you have done and accomplished as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Take time to do the following:

  1. Examine your present and past clientele
  2. Evaluate your portfolio of work
  3. Find someone established and positioned as an industry leader and ask for advice
  4. Look at the prices of your competition locally and globally
  5. Join forums for freelance designers
  6. Make the tough decisions on pricing your value
  7. Lose a few prospective customers who aren’t ready to pay you what you’re worth

To get your business to the next level requires a lot of effort in heavy-lifting. It’s a lot like moving your friends furniture to their new apartment that’s on the fifth floor and the place has no elevators only stairs. You know its going to be back-breaking work and sweat pouring down your face, but it’ll all be worth it knowing you’ll be rewarded (not with pizza and cold beer).

Don’t be afraid to raise your prices. Only you can do what you do and if people are lining up around the block just to work with you then that’s a good sign you’re worth more than you first thought.

How did you discover your true value as a designer? Share your story below. We could all learn from it.

How Commercial Artists Evolved into Graphic Designers Thanks to Paul Rand

“Ideas do not need to be esoteric to be original or exciting.” – Paul Rand, American Graphic Designer

The 1870s ushered in the current era of logos. The first logo to be trademarked was the Bass Red Triangle in 1876. A young commercial artist would come to enter the world of logo design some 60 years later and shake things up.

Paul Rand was a remarkable talent with an illustrious career than span nearly six decades. He possessed a knack for translating numerous corporations’ visions into a memorable corporate identity with enviable staying-power. Think IBM, UPS and ABC.

His belief in the survival of a logo was that it ought to be “designed with the utmost simplicity and restraint.” The simplicity of his logo designs would never lead you to draw the conclusion that the approach was a precise one and with its origins grounded in very complex theory.

Paul Rand's eclectic logo portfolio included some of the globe's biggest brands
Paul Rand’s eclectic logo portfolio included some of the globe’s biggest brands

Rand was often times reputed in some instances for presenting only one concept to his clients because he felt that specific design was the solution to their companies’ problem(s). He left them with the option of using it or not but ensured that he was always paid for his efforts.

Some of his logo designs cost upwards of USD $100,000.00. Rand proved that not only is a graphic designer an artist, but the creative individual is equally a business problem solver.

In my opinion, he should continually be recognised as a pioneer for his contributions to design and as a graphic designer, I am very grateful to the genius that is Paul Rand.

For more on Paul Rand – www.paul-rand.com

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