I found it a little difficult to research how much a freelance graphic designer should charge per hour. Throughout my research, I also found the debate on fixed pricing versus hourly billing very interesting.

Just Creative gave me great insight into the reality of pricing graphic design services. Some key points I have taken away are:

  • there’s no exact formula,
  • my prices will affect my own outlook on my services and the client’s opinion of my services,
  • uncertainty is common,
  • pricing can be a good way to weed out the time wasters,
  • potential clients may think the prices are too high no matter what the price, and
  • starting out I will probably have to charge less than I would like.

Tuts+ also outlined nine factors to consider when determining prices. These include: expenses, desired profit, market demand, industry standards, skill level, experience, market positioning, level of service and who the client is (whether they are high risk, etc).

The AIGA Survey of Design Salaries outlined the average salary of a junior designer (print/web/interactive) in 2014 was $40,000 USD, and $60,000 USD for a self-employed designer – though I acknowledge this probably doesn’t include ‘junior’ self-employed designers and is a reflection of USA standards, not Australian.

After checking Seek (an Australian site), I found salaries aren’t often outlined for graphic design job advertisements. Though, from what I did find, the average salary offered to a junior graphic designer is between $35,000-$50,000 AUD (for a mid-weight graphic designer this jumps to $50,000-$65,000 and a senior graphic designer as much as $80,000-$100,000). I then used Pay Calculator to work out the hourly rate for a junior graphic designer based on the above figure, which equates to between $17-25 per hour (based on a 38 hour working week). I understand the above hourly rate is based on a salary where the employee is entitled to leave provisions, etc. So a freelancer would have to account for leave and potential periods of no work, among other things, in their pricing.

The fixed pricing versus hourly billing debate raises some interesting considerations. Miranda Marquit, a professional writer who has experience in graphic design, advises that clients often want a quote for the project rather than an hourly rate. Meaning, if you can estimate how long a project will take, you can transfer your hourly rate into a fixed price for the project. For example, if the hourly rate is $60/hr, and designing a flyer will take 2 hours, the quote could start at $120 and include a further price buffer to account for extra tweaking time. Miranda also discusses the importance of having an agreement with the client for any graphic design project. The agreement should outline what services and product the quote includes, and should cover the following:

  • number of revisions included
  • what exactly the designer will produce
  • provision for additional charges that go outside of the original scope of the project
  • additional fees, such as a premium for rush jobs

In the end I emailed AGDA directly to get a better idea of what freelance junior graphic designers should be charging. Steve from AGDA wasn’t able to give me freelance rates but he did advise the following for junior designers working within a studio:

  • Junior Graphic Designer (0-1 years) = $33,222 or $23.50/hr
  • Junior Graphic Designer (2-4 years) = $42,013 or $27.50/hr

I understand this isn’t all the information out there, but it gives me something to start thinking about. Since I am a student only halfway through completing my double degree (Graphic Design/Communication in Advertising) and I already have full-time employment, I would be looking to freelance on the side and not as my main source of income.

I also understand my technical skills aren’t yet as advanced as a graduate graphic designers, so I would need to work a little slower on projects to start with. Meaning I wouldn’t want to transfer this extra time spent on projects as a cost to the client. Meaning I would ideally want to charge based on “reasonable” job timeframes (whilst also considering complexity of job, etc).

I think I would only be comfortable charging a base rate of approximately $25-30/hr to begin, and would only be able to fit in approximately 5 hours of freelance work a week.

Below is a timesheet branded with my personal logo, which I could use as means to track my hours completed per week for a certain client/project.