freelance rate

Hi all,
I can’t find any threads regarding my question, though I’m sure it’s been asked a trillion times prior. What and how to charge for freelance/projects?

The approach I have taken in the past is to divide my salary by hourly and bingo, I have an hourly rate.


Pull a number out of thin air and charge a flat fee.

Most of my projects include designing lines or random shoes and then research as well that needs to be conveyed back to home base.

Please share any advice or thoughts.

Thanks! :wink:

A friend of mine once said he took his targeted annual salary, doubled that, divided that by 2000 hours to get his hourly.

He then estimated the time it took to do a project, doubled that, and then multiplied by his hourly to get his flat fees. He only charged flat fees. This makes up for all those hours you spend honing your skills that the client benefits from. The value of an experienced designer on a project is that clients get a more focused deliverable that is more on target to their needs, production is taken into consideration, and all this done faster. This has a lot of value.

bottom line is-

you can charge only what someone is willing to pay. Yo’s guide is a good one, but alot depends on your experience and skills. There is also a difference if you are freelancing just for a few side projects or looking at building a business and establishing a steady income stream.

For my footwear design consultancy business, I typically have an hourly rate which all billing is based on, and do hourly estimates and breakdowns per project so the client can see the process and what is involved, but then set a flat rate for the project so i dont need to worry about hourly accounting and keeping track.

some projects go over my estimate, some are under. takes a while to get the budgeting process accurate, but in the end the bottom line will usually work out.

lots of variables are involved to determine the right rate. basically you need to evaluate your costs of doing the work (ie. opportunity cost or what you could be making someplace else with the given hours) and see first how much its worth to YOU. then set a number, work with your client and find something that you can agree on.

invariably no matter how you set your rates sometimes you will be too high for your client, and sometimes you will feel you didnt charge enough (after the project turns out to be a huge headache).

hope this helps,


a little digression- but in the same scope…

I have been following these discussions for a number of years and have always wondered- but rarely seen- any information about “ballpark” deliverables. I understand this is and endless discussion… but how many different concepts or designs are seen as a good weeks work, months work. How much development? If I take the Under Armor post, is that considered a day- 5 days, a month (although this seems like a stretch).

I ask because this all relates to time spent/charged. Like I mentioned, this is a bit of the old “chicken or the egg”… but what are general rules of thumb for work and detail- over a given time? (taking into account the design process of doing work, presenting, revision, presenting, revision… blah blah)

Sorry if this seems vague and drawn out- but there you have it.

not sure if i follow your question?

for deliverables, i usually provide-

A. Sketch concepts- 10 loose, small-scale drawings that effectively communicate a wide variety of initial design directions.
B. Preliminary design- 4 more refined sketches with detail notes and callouts that elaborate initial selected design concepts and further explore detailing and construction issues.
C. Final design- Final, detailed Adobe Illustrator line-artwork and specifications for first prototype, including all views, detailed technical drawings, graphics, and construction call-outs as required.

sometimes also do a second preliminary design phase depending on the project and depending on client request add renderings, or other presentation material.

total for the above is anywhere from 18+ hours depending on the project. a more complicated technical design will take longer than a relatively simple lifestyle project.

as for work over a given time, a lot i find depends on the client feedback schedule, but normally do my work on average at 1 phase a week. faster/slower also depending on my work load and the client’s needs.


Take your current pay…cut it in half…AND DOUBLE IT!

That helps a ton… thanks R.

along the same idea I had- but wanted a ballpark for, was what the workload is like for the typical footwear designer. I know what we have done around here- but was curious how the scope of work varied from place to place, generally speaking of course.

On average, essentially you offer one pure- solid- complete design (and all your knowhow) every three weeks or so for a couple thousand US dollars. I understand this is very loose… but your wisdom is appreciated.

workload varies designer to designer and company to company.

not talking freelance, but at my first footwear job, as a senior designer i did about 10 uppers and 4 outsoles per season for design, and development of about 300 SKUs (about 30 new uppers and 10 new outsoles) plus 150+ days in china. on top also did graphics (catalogs, hangtags, packaging).

some guys i know in larger corporate settings do 2 uppers a year and no development…

as for freelance, you also need to take into account working on multiple projects at the same time when looking at overall ballpark.


Thanks everyone for sharing your methods. That’s great and really helps.


Word- thanks bro!