$$$$$ ER design rates?

Two questions but I will start with the main question.

Q1- Client calls me up and has an emergency deadline that has come up. I work 10 days almost non stop to get the work done. Staying up and all the stress that comes with it. Client over the moon with the work and my effort in meeting the deadline.

My question is that if in 10 days I did 20 days worth of work and if my daily NORMAL deadline rate is $1000 per day then what would you charge the client?

a- 20 x $1000 = $20,000


b- 20 x $1000 = $20,000 + extra % on top for emergency tight deadline?

Does the fact that physically there were only 10 days and I am charging 20 days already cover not hiking my rate? Any input appreciated. Taking my $1000 per day rate how much would you up your daily rate for tight deadlined ER projects?

Q2- I bill my clients seperately for print outs as they prefer it like that. It’s part of the main invoice but print out costs are seperately itemized. What do you charge clients for printouts? Take A3 and A4 color inkjet printouts as example.

$25 for each A3 printout and $12 for A4 too high in your opinion? Any words of wisdom?

The amount of work that you think is 20 days worth could only be 10 days worht to me or 30. If you logged sixteen hours of work a day or if you have it written in your contract that your deadline was for twenty days, than you should definitely make them pay double. How are you proving that you did double the amount of work?


If you can back up the hours logged (in terms of hours and not days) you’ll easily get the money you deserve, especially for emergency work.

You didn’t settle this before you did the work? Big mistake. Best I think you could do is try to charge for the 20hours if you can prove it as mentioned, but adding an “emergency fee” if nothing of the sort was discussed beforehand is asking for pushback from the client.

as for prints, it depends on the quality. If just a normal inkjet from home it seems high. If a color laser print (like Kinkos), I’d double what you paid (say $10 per a3, $5 for a4). Again, you should have this set before you do the work.


I’d say you chalk this up to a learning experience. Clearly communicating expectations is awkward but extremely beneficial.

I tend to charge a emergency or hurry-up fee on clients who tell me they need a project in a week or less. Essentially they need to give me a reason to put them ahead of my other clients. I log all my hours and charge them for hours as well as the fee but I make sure they know what they are buying before they move forward with it.

Days are equal to hours. A day for me = 8 solid hours of work. So 16 hours of work in 24 hours time frame = 2 days work. Proof is in the pudding and the client knows that. Work would not have been finished otherwise.

From the other posts I see that I should keep it simple in the future by keeping it purely hours worked without bringing days into the equation (even though the day calculation is based on hours). I just find that clients digest daily rate better than hourly rate for some psychological reason.
Design coterie makes a good point about emergency fees the way he charges it. All information digested.

I will charge 20 days for this project. This particular client always pays up so no worries on that side.

Clearly communicating expectations is awkward but extremely beneficial.

Tell me about it. I have some clients who don’t discuss anything money related before the project. They just tell me to give the bill at the end and they pay up no questions asked. They trust my fairness very much.

Then with some other clients everything gets set in black and white before hand. I think I blink too much when I discuss money :cry: :wink:

I do what my uncle dose. He has a company in Seattle that installs insulation in the hulls of ships and not really a designer but it’s a good policy.

So if you take a job and the client wants to push the date up a bit, you charge then a bit more, maybe 20%. If they say they want it in a month and they call you and need it in a week, well then at least triple it. If they need it that bad well then they will pay it. I’d also have told them about this from the get go.

As you are dealing with billable hours, have you considered ‘time-and-a-half’ for hours worked over 8 per day, and ‘double-time’ for hours over 12? This is not uncommon for hourly, or non-salary positions.

On a slightly different note, do you guys differentiate between 2d and 3d work? I mean is your hourly rate for 2d and 3d work same or do you charge lower for 2d work? I used to start lower for 2d work but these days I charge same as time is time.

I will reiterate what rkuchinsky and others say:

Any work you do, emergency or not, should have some form of work effort estimate discussed with your client. Probably every designer in the world has clients like you describe - excellent, always pay, etc. - until that one time, and it’s usually cases like you describe, emergencies with large invoice. And then it’s bad, real bad.

An email with minimal words describing work, 10 day delivery, expected overtime, existing rate, and asking for response that you are correct. This is good enough to form a contract: offer, acceptance, consideration. And if things are so good between you and your client, one or two sentences can be enough in emergency.

It is generally unwise to surcharge for prints or other somewhat minor ephemera. If there is significant dollars spent, exotic or specialized processes part of your designer role’s special knowledge, then charge, with 10 - 15% markup.

It’s the lawyer’s nickel and diming phenomena: $300 per hour and 10¢ per photocopy = guarantee piss off. I experienced this same situation: large multi-billion $ corporation, huge projects, biweekly invoices above $100K and my accounting insisted tacking on $13 in photocopies and long distance phone charges. I as design lead and project manager got pulled into client’s CEO office by the CFO with our invoices on the mahogony desk to get 10 minutes of reaming over the $13, the $118K was no issue. It’s perceived value.