How to Get Paid in Full as a Graphic Designer

Written by Nicola Brown on October 3, 2017

One of the biggest challenges that freelance graphic designers face is getting fully compensated for every component that goes into the final product. Many clients aren’t aware of the back-end work and money that goes into making their dreams come true. Here’s how to ensure that you get paid in full as you perfect your art as a freelance graphic designer.

1. Include Costs Within Your Hourly Rate

When calculating the hourly rate to charge your clients, consider more than just the time you spend designing. Work out your average monthly costs for purchasing new fonts, brushes, graphic design software upgrades and any courses or workshops that you take to refine your skills. Add up these costs and divide the total by the average number of hours that you work. This will give you an hourly fee to quote to your clients. If they’re skeptical about the fee, break down the number so that they understand the out-of-pocket costs needed to bring their projects to life.

2. Stipulate Ancillary Costs in Your Contract

Make sure that you account for the ancillary costs involved in completing client work. Are they requesting a specific font that you don’t already have, or do they need you to source or take photos for the project? Make sure to itemize each of these expenses in your proposal or contract so your clients understand how much each item costs. If an item is too expensive for a client, offer an alternative so they understand the difference in costs between their ideal project and other options. The happiest clients are ones that get to choose how much they spend.

3. Be Explicit About Numbers of Revisions

One of the best ways to ensure that you get paid for your work in full is to explicitly state how many design revisions you’re willing to do, and specify that any more than the agreed upon number will cost extra. Make sure this appears as a specific line item in the contract that you sign with your client, and explain what will happen once the agreed upon number of revisions has been exceeded. Many designers experience “scope creep” with their work, when the client continues to ask for changes and adds unexpected hours to a project.

4. Expense Everything

If you’re set up as a sole proprietor, corporation or another type of registered business, you can expense all your business-related costs. This includes the extra costs that add up, like transportation to and from photo shoots and subscriptions to design magazines. Make sure you keep accurate records: hold on to original receipts and update your accounting records regularly to stay on top of your expenses.

The most successful graphic designers are those who adequately capture the full-range of time and money required to deliver client projects, and ensure they’re getting paid in full for their hard work. Always be open, honest and upfront with your clients about the costs for each project, and you’ll both be happy with the results.

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