whos charging what

I’ve finally launched into offering freelance design, and am a bit skeptical about what to charge. I don’t have much competition due to what i specialize in, and what competition i have takes them twice as long to accomplish what I do. does that mean I should charge the same rate and double my hours or double my rate and charge the exact hours?
I’ve seen the past posts on this topic, but no one has ever posted what they charge. with the economy in the toilet, has anybody reduced their rate as to entice more business?

q. does anybody know what the leading design groups’ charging rates are?

q. what are you charging?

q. what do you offer (in general)?

it would appreciate any input on this, helps to understand our surroundings.

<in the land of the blind, the one who can see is king>

“We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” -Linda Evangelista, 1990

You’ll be very hard pressed to find people willing to give up that information. That’s part of the game and strategy. Charge what you think you can, what it’s worth to you, what you think it’s worth to the company, what’s competative, etc…
Any numbers I could give wouldn’t really help much. From interns at $10/hr to a big well known consultancy at over $300/hr. That’s a huge range so pretty much a non-answer. You have to judge yourself and where you stand among your peers and also judge what people will be willing to pay you for what you do. It takes some trial and error in the beginning. Good luck.

very good points, that’s kind of what i had in the back of my mind. thank you very much for the input! much appreciated!

“Don’t stay in bed…unless you can make money in bed” - George Burns

Why don’t you charge the true hours, and undersell the competition, both on quality and price? If you are truly competing your goal should be to close them out. If you get a project offered to you that you know will do well, but the people might be short on capitol. Do it for free, and charge on the back end; take like 3% of sales (NOT profit, try to get more out of profit).

In a recent Design Glut interview, Dror Benshetrit said he doesn’t charge by the hour. Paraphrasing: We’re not lawyers or plumbers. Sometimes our best ideas come in 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 5 weeks. The quality of the idea is what you should be selling, not the time you spent working on it.

I’ve been charging a flat $75 per hour for any freelance work that come in the door - for the last 10 years.

But for the last 10 years I’ve had a day job, so the freelance $$ has just been for the kids college tuition war chest.

No, don’t do this. It’s a bad idea for so many reasons, esp. if you are not experienced in royalties or have the type of clients that ask for this and don’t have capital. (hint: if they don’t have capital to pay for the designs (5, 10$K), how are they going to have capital to tool up, market and sell the product)!

Your rates are only something you can decide. It depends on the industry, you selling ability, your skills, your experience, your competition and your clients.

Set a rate that you think is fair. Present it to the client. You’ll quickly know if you are in the right ballpark.

And, yes, you don’t need to charge by the hour, but almost any client if quoting for a fixed rate will want and hourly budget so they know what they can expect for the coin.

Put it another way, design, is rarlely ever purchased by price alone. Underselling doesn’t necessarily work as it’s not a simple commodity like milk or eggs, where price is pretty much the only factor where the product is relatively interchangeable. Your skills, work, experience and reputation are what they are paying for and the only thing that matters with respect to determining the value of the final design you can bring to the table.


RK your right, but only most of the time. It’s business, the business people I know are not worried about saving the masses. Maximizing the profit is up their ally.

I myself have never done the free thing, I just know it can be done. If I were to I would get the contract to have some clause that if the projects fails to bud into fruition, I get compensated.

I would never ask for royalties over a fee, especially not after witnessing a company put a designers work into production and then lie to him and tell him they weren’t using his work. All the risk is with the designer.

I don’t charge by the hour either, all flat fee per phase billed by phase. If I worked it out hourly, it would be a lot more than $75 per hour.

Billing by project rather than time & materials would make things a lot easier than justifying billed hours to the original quote (not that I’ve ever had to). It takes me forever to put together invoices… trying to gauge how much I should charge to what they are expecting to pay.

I guess you would need a strict contract about the scope of work and scope change fees? Some clients would bleed you out with their indecision

I should explain my $75/hr comment more.

Almost every client wants to see a quote before you begin. For a while I quoted by the project, but then they asked how I arrived at that number. I couldn’t say it was gut feel, or the potential value of the final work, so I had to distill it to a vernacular that most people understood - hourly rate. Rarely do I spend the quoted number of hours on a project. I’ve only blown a quote twice. After a while you get pretty good at running a profitable freelance gig.

The client sees $75/hour, but I’m really quoting a project. I arrived at that number after a plumber charged me $70 per hour.

im pretty much with you richard, design is not a matter of fixing a car - and it should be measured by capability. but i do get stuck trying to think about the clients view. if the competition receives lets say 4k for a job in 40hrs, and you can do it for 3k in 20hrs - most clients (pure businessman) will use you just because of price. now if your work was vastly superior to the competition, wouldnt you want to get paid 5.5k, so that the client pays for the hightened value? If this is so, you have to charge 4x the competitions rate, ridiculously higher - where the client might be a bit discouraged.

but i think yo’s method of flat fee is a bit for the higher end designers, designing for higher end clients (more capital), and has a very good point about charging a client based on value (and bills) - where you charge the same whether it took you 5mins or 5weeks. I like that idea, reduces the stress a bit - allows you to be you.

now if your ability vastly outweighs your competitions, is this when you break away from hourly rates and move to flat fees??

to note, royalties leave ALOT of crucial points of business left open - and have been burned by that already. one project, still no pay, 3 years…

richard and yo, hope you aren’t still hurt about the office thing.

Okay, I would like an opinion on another item related to this topic. What is the typical rate of a mechanical design engineer relative to that of an industrial designer? I am not referring to higher-end analysis, such as FEA.

For example: A mechanical design engineer develops a plastic injection-molded housing (SolidWorks, Pro-E, etc.), hands it off to an industrial designer for consultation. The ID imports the model and updates the appearance by creating a new surface model (Alias, Rhino, etc.). The ME imports the surface model back into his/her 3-D CAD software, and completes the design so injection-molded tooling can be created. The engineer will also check assembly motion and fit of parts (interference, collisions, etc.).

Given this scenario, should the typical rate of the ME match that of the ID, or be higher or lower? Like the ID, the ME is self-employed and pays for his/her own license of software, equipment, etc. as with any small business.

no sweat. never did feel any “hurt” :slight_smile: all good here.