Freelance Character Desing: I'm lost



  • Hi! Hope you are having an amazing day!

    I just started as a freelance illustrator and character designer but I think I feel a little lost.
    What's your pipeline as a character designer how do you charge the work or how do you make de quote for your client?

    Someone asked me for character designs but I don't know how should approach it.
    Do you ask first what should you submit to your client (like turnaround, character sheet, expressions, etc) or do you have like a bundle and charge it per work. Like exploration phase it's x amount and the turnaround it's x amount?

    Also how do you know how to charge , if it's a big or small company how do you change your prices?

    They gave me as an advice I should have my hourly rate but I think sometimes I take more time than I expected and I'm under charging.
    In the end they take a lot of time to give feedback and usually they have to many changes so in the end a job of 3 days or 1 week becomes a job of 2 so you end loosing money (I endend losing money :C)

    A lot of clients where I live pay $4 usd per hour and usually they expected a character design to be 50-100 usd but I don't know if that's the average for character design (for animation or a company)

    Also do you have any advice of contracts and how should I redact them?

    Also If you have any experience advice (like how do you negotiate with clients and how does your pipeline looks as a character designer-illustrator) it would mean a lot to me If you share it.

    Thank you

    Have a nice day!! ❤


  • Pro

    @Elisa-Gonzalez-O-Magaña I can't really help with the pipeline and such since this is not my market, but $4 USD per hour is terrible!! That's lower than minimum wage... If clients in your area pay this, I suggest looking for clients in other areas. You can work with anyone anywhere in the world with the internet, so find people and companies who value you 🙂

    For estimating the time it takes, you will get better at it with experience. At the beginning if you're not sure and keep under estimating, add 5 hours to your estimate when giving them a quote.

    And remember you don't have to lower your rates to accommodate cheap clients... Instead, hold your ground on fair prices and find clients who have the money to afford you! They do exist 🙂



  • Holy crud 4$USD? Where do you live?? That's criminally low.

    I have a hard time charging people high rates too, but recently, I tried it out, and threw out double the price of what I'd usually do it for. And they denied. Then I reduced it by 10% and they still denied and said bye.

    I didn't get the commission, but I still felt like a winner. And I just gained back a bunch of free time from not getting it. Sometimes time is more valuable.



  • @NessIllustration Thank you for replying.... you are right. I guess I got afraid that if I came to expensive no one would ever hire me but as you say with the internet I can find better clients who value what I do (but I should value myself first 🙂 )

    Do you still sign any kind of agreement before working with clients? Like with how many revisions would you do and such?

    And that's such a great advice, adding more hours if something happens that you didn't take into account.



  • @Frost-Drive In Mexico (the minimum wage is really low here but I know there are better paying rates) , I guess I just encountered bad clients...the wages are really low in Mexico but I've seen really good paid jobs. Maybe I will try to find other clients around the globe.

    And you are right, I guess if it´s a comission that gets me thrilled even if the pay is low I will say yes but if I don't feel like the time-money-fun aspect is worth it , better to turn it down.

    Thank you for replying!

    As for when you start a comission do you sign like an agreement with the client?

    PS: (by the way your youtube channel seems like fun I just suscribed)


  • Pro

    @Elisa-Gonzalez-O-Magaña Absolutely! I never work without a contract. Gotta protect our behinds 🙂

    It can be hard finding clients that value us, but it's worth it! I get emails or DMs almost every week from writers who want me to illustrate their children's book. I give them my quote, and never hear from them again LOLLL ^^''' But every once in a blue moon, one will say "Yep that sounds good to me, when can we start?" and that's a moment worth waiting for 🙂



  • @Elisa-Gonzalez-O-Magaña

    Hello! I sometimes do contract work like this.

    When working with a larger company, I've always been asked for just an hourly rate, not a total price for the work. Sometimes they will ask for an estimate of time, but that is after they detail for you what exactly is expected. For example, if they need 5 or 20 characters, or if they need designs and poses etc. Also, they know it is an estimate, not a guaranteed amount.

    When estimating the time I always tell them MORE time than I think it'll take, that way I am finishing things faster than they expected and I'm not stressed for time. This makes us both happy!

    To give you an idea, in my area (San Francisco, California) $30 an hour would be a cheap rate.

    For small companies or independent people, I would make them detail out for me exactly what is needed so I can gauge the amount of work, estimate higher than I think it'll take and then times that by the hourly rate I would like. I would detail in my contract how many revisions they are allowed to ask for, and then an hourly rate if more revisions are requested on top. I would also specify partial payment upfront and at the end, and what happens if they cancel but you've done a lot of the work already. I would also ensure images are allowed to be used in my portfolio after
    the product launch.

    Do not do any work without a contract or a written agreement - ever!


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