Azzcat Blast

Design stories & tips, peppered with life's little tidbits

Your Rate is Too High!

December 5th, 2009

Really? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m seriously considering raising my rate. Why?

Because I’m Worth It.

Every. Single. Penny. When you hire me, you hire:

  • a project manager
  • a creative director
  • a researcher
  • a content editor
  • a writer
  • an art director
  • a buyer
  • a site planner
  • a designer
  • a programer/devleoper
  • and more

My clients are small business owners.

They don’t work with large agencies. But they don’t want their cousin’s daughter’s best friend to ‘draw’ their logo. Nor, do they want their sister’s son (who’s taking a Dreamweaver class!) to put together their website.

My clients are smarter than that.

They realize the importance of their company’s brand. They need logos and signage. They need websites and ads. They need brochures and direct mail. But they’re not sure where to start. They need a more than a pretty layout.

That’s where I come in.

Logo Design

You need a logo? If yes—better hire someone who understands the physical applications of logos/branding. Someone who will craft a brand that won’t land you in copyright litigation after you’ve bought that pricey electric sign or painted your truck fleet.

Web Design

You need a website? If yes—better hire someone who knows about coding standards, search engine optimization (SEO), user interface (UI), social media, typography, design and more.

Print Design

You need a brochure? If yes—better hire someone who can put together the right design on the right paper with the right printer—to save you money.

So, is my rate too high?

Nope. Why? All of the above and

Because I’ll Still Be In Business Next Year.

Yes. That’s a point that needs to be made. Spec work. Crowdsourcing. Bidding sites. Getting the lowest price for design services pretty much guarantees that your designer can’t afford to stay in business. Think about it—you get a great deal on oDesk from some provider. Super cheap. Cheaper than US minimum wage. You’re happy. So happy, that six months down the line you want this person again for another cheap project.

But the designer has disappeared. Poof!

Why? Could be any number of reasons. Could be because:

  1. She/He was good and got a ‘real’ job. With benefits.
  2. He/She was bad and got a ‘real’ job. In another field. With benefits.
  3. She/He was really good. And smart. And raised rates. Maybe even buys own benefits now. And won’t work for less.
  4. He/She was really good. But not so smart. And went bankrupt. Lost the iMac, the internet and the house.

Tough break. Time to look for a new designer.

Your Work is Fantastic, But…

This week, I had the pleasure of a buyer actually writing back to me (as opposed to summarily dismissing my rate as “too high”:

Catherine,
I’d be interested in speaking with you, but I think you had a typo in your application—you bid $XX an hour. Please let me know that that was an error.
—R

LOL, Typo! But, what was he really asking? Why the *^%$ I don’t charge peanuts/near or below minimum wage like so many others? Or is he just naive? So I wrote back, politely educating him and wishing him luck:

Sorry R—no typo. I charge $XX/hour on oDesk (to which they add their %). My oDesk rate is actually discounted from my direct rate b/c I don’t have to do invoicing, etc.
I normally bid/project, with contract outlining deliverables, sign-offs, etc. if you’re interested. My pricing is competitive. My work excellent and a good value.
Thanks for your interest. Good luck with the provider you select.

Yet he wasn’t finished. He wrote back, with a bit of sarcastic tone:

Catherine,
Your designs are fantastic, and to be booked through December at a rate of $XX is extremely impressive. I appreciate your interest, but that is more than I want to spend.
— R

“Fantastic”—really? I’m flattered. What should I do? Feel guilty? Lower my price? Or walk away?

I walked.

And picked up another client that very day.

Oh, Yeah—I’m worth it. Every Penny.

2 Responses to “Your Rate is Too High!”

Joseph McCullough
March 11, 2010

I’ve just recently got comfortable with this mindset. However, since I am not very talented yet, I’m keeping my prices low. Since I honestly do value myself at about $20 an hour, that’s what I’ll charge. As I become more proficient, I’ll raise my rate. Luckily for me, though, I’m just a college Freshman still living at home! So I can charge low to bring in more clients for experience sake but not have to worry about not being able to feed myself. 

Catherine
March 11, 2010

Don’t undersell yourself. Remember, as a self-employed person, you’ve got to cover every expense that EEs don’t: vacation & sick days, insurance, retirement, equipment, software, utilities and double taxes.

I know it’s hard when you see ads for designers who seemingly need to know every application and programming language under the sun–for $15/hour. Don’t fall for them. Even unskilled labor like housekeeping, charges $20/hour.

You might consider setting project rates. Clients prefer knowing what the project will cost, rather than a vague hourly number. As you gain experience, you’ll actually get a ‘raise’ because you’ll complete projects in fewer hours. While you’re in school, try to take a business or entrepreneurship class. You’ll never regret it!

Thanks and good luck!