business January 14, 2021

Why do freelance designers’ prices differ so much?

One of these days, while talking to a prospective client, she mentioned that my quote was too high considering that on Fiverr, she could hire someone with good reviews for 25 bucks.
I’ve been keeping a relationship with the client’s brand, so I don’t think she was fishing for a price. The company honestly thinks that that quote is about right for what they need.

I quickly realize that we don’t speak enough about money and freelance designers’ quotes. Not sure about other countries, but here in Portugal, we avoid talking about money. It’s taboo. We feel guilty about making a lot of money even if we’re worth it.

So, this post is long overdue. Let’s analyze why freelance designers’ prices vary so much. Hopefully, after that, you can make an educated decision for your next project.

Freelancing is not a hobby.

It’s obvious, but most clients forget. We are freelancers by choice, but we have a business to run. That means paying our bills, putting food on the table, and having a decent and fair life. It’s our primary source of income.
However, to some people, that might not be the case. As such, they can afford to charge less and take each project lightly.

Freelancers don’t keep all of your money.

Once more, this depends if it’s their primary source of income. But even if it’s not the case, platforms like Upwork and Fiverr keep a percentage of your payment. So usually, designers will charge accounting that they will pay taxes or additional fees.

The freelance designers’ prices take cost of living in consideration.

Another reason why designers charge differently is their currency and exchange rate.
Going back to the initial example, 25 bucks in Egypt is a lot more than if the designer is living in Portugal. At the same time, a British designer would be making even less money than the Portuguese.

In Egypt, a designer might be able to charge that amount for fewer projects and have enough money to live a good life. On the other hand, both the Portuguese and the British designers aren’t making enough money to cover their basic needs.

Work/life balance is a consideration when quoting projects.

Freelance designers are like small companies; one person does it all. 
But, let’s be fair, who wants to work non-stop to the point of burning out? To avoid it, the designer takes in fewer projects and charges more.
Of course, that’s not the case for all. Some still charge less and take in a lot of work or, as we’ve seen before, they quote lower due to their life cost not being so high.

Quality and experience are undeniable factors.

You can search for the average price for designers according to their country and experience.
Entry-level designers will usually start by charging less as opposed to those that have years of experience. The same goes for freelancers vs. studios. Higher experience and quality requires more investment from the client. 

Work tools aren’t cheap.

Tools are certainly a matter of choice on the designer’s part. However, there are some requirements for hardware, software, and additional tools. A fast internet connection, a computer with a decent graphic card, and an external disk with enough storage are mandatory requirements. Other than that, designer’s software and management tools aren’t cheap. 

On the optional side, there’s the investment in workshops, courses, books, and conferences. While these aren’t everyday necessities, they allow the professional to improve and do a better job.

Each project is exclusive and requires full dedication.

When a designer sends you a higher quote, he will be working exclusively on your project. It means that he will put in time and effort to understand everything about your business to serve you better and provide the best possible result. So, in reality, you’re not only paying for the execution. You’re paying for everything that comes before and after the actual design process.

You get more than you need, even if you don’t know it yet.

When you hire someone on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr, it means you will get a one time job.
On the opposite spectrum, when you contract a freelancer, most likely, you will get more than you’ve asked. For freelancers, as with other companies, it’s important to establish long time relationships. Our reputation and future client opportunities are on the line.
For that reason, higher-paying freelancers will either present more work or additional assets that you didn’t know you needed before.

Additionally, in the long run, instead of looking for someone new when you need a hand, you have a great reference already. Even if it’s not design-related, the designer will try to lend a hand and help you anyway. 


Now you know why freelance designers’ prices can differ so much.

Please notice that I cannot account for all freelancers out there. There are some shitty professionals in all fields. But to account for that, you should enquire not only on price but, most importantly, about the process and your involvement during the project. Ask, ask, and ask some more. No question is unnecessary or dumb if it helps you to move in the right direction. A good designer will be more than willing to answer.

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