How much should I charge?

  • I really struggle with this. I get asked often how much I charge and I can usually say it depends on the size/detail of the work. But sometimes they ask me how much per hour I charge. I have NO idea!!

    How do you guys break it down to hourly pay? And how do you get comfortable and confident to not short sell yourself?

    Iโ€™m really needing help in this. Today after ai told them how much I charge per hour they asked me how I even make a living charging that little. Iโ€™m used to being a stay at home mom who makes nothing- so anything sounds better than that to me, especially doing something I love.

    Please help!! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

  • Pro

    @juliemillardart I'd say your last sentence exposed the root of your problem. "Anything sounds better than nothing to me, especially doing something I love."

    When pricing though, it shouldn't matter how much you love what you do. It shouldn't matter how little money you need o come in.. It only really matters how much what you're offering is worth. A lawyer can easily charge $200-300 per hour. I'm sure they like what they do. And I'm sure they probably don't need quite that much to survive. Doesn't mean they should charge less. The service they're providing is valuable. And if they charge $5 an hour it would look HECKA suspicious. People wouldn't be thrilled at the bargain, they'd be like "This sounds wrong, is this guy THIS bad? Did he get his diploma in a cereal box?"

    By pricing too low not only you're selling yourself short, you're appearing unprofessional.

    Illustration is skilled labor, and a rare skill at that. It takes years of practice to master. In a studio, jobs start at $20-$30 per hour minimum. As a freelancer, you have to charge about twice more to account for taxes to put aside, vacation, health insurance, down time between projects, and all the other stuff that comes with being a freelancer. So $40-$60 per hour should be a minimum.

    But also, you don't have to charge by the hour. You can charge however you want. I don't charge by the hour because it's only compensating me for the time I put in, not the value I'm providing the client. In freelancing, "value-based" pricing is common. It takes into account how much usage and revenue the client is getting out of your work. Are they putting your art on products to sell? How much money are they making from that. If they're making a million, you're owed more money than if they're making a thousand. You can do value based pricing either by asking for a % of royalty, or calculating a flat fee based on a % of their expected revenue.

    Another reason not to do hourly pricing is that it often doesn't properly compensate for copyright licenses. It shifts the focus to compensating you for your time, rather than compensating you for your intellectual property and the right for them to use it. Gigs paid by the hour are often work for hire, which means they get all the copyrights of everything you created. This is typically a very bad deal for artists.

  • @NessIllustration thank you for taking the time to respond. This information is really so helpful. The last thing I want to portray is that my work is unprofessional or cheap. Thank you so much!

  • As always @NessIllustration crushes it ๐Ÿ™‚

    @juliemillardart I don't believe there is a specific way for you to get comfortable asking for say $60 an hour if that feels absurd to you. You just have to do it and fake the confidence until you get enough people saying yes for it to become a norm ๐Ÿ™‚

    A good business rule of thumb is that your pricing should be high enough that at least 25% of your potential clients tell you "No" because it's too high. You can always come down to accommodate them. But if virtually everyone says "Yes" then you are too low.

    I also think it's important to really know how many hours a project will take so you can offer more options. Make sure you meticulously track your hours so you know how much time you actually spend on a project. At some point it become 2nd nature to know and from time to time I'll do an audit.

    I recently had project where they wanted a fixed cost so they knew what to budget. They weren't sure how much revenue they would make, so I asked them to outline exactly what they wanted in detail and I developed a project based cost based on $70 an hour and I was pretty sure the project would take about 15 hours, added 5 more for cushion. That fit near the top end of what they had stated they had a budget for. Then I negotiated a % gross revenue commission clause for something like 1% if it made over $25,000 for a set amount of time.

    So you can get pretty creative with the pricing, but only if you can confidently wade into those waters and talk about it openly with the client.

  • I'm a total novice at this, but I recently got a ton of great information from Anoosha Syed's youtube video about how to price illustration work. She has some great perspective on how to break down an hourly or fixed price for yourself and your budget. It's an hour long and she talks fast! Have your notebook ready! Here's a link:

  • SVS OG

    The basic problem here is that many stay at home moms have no confidence in their value, which if you think of it, is immense! Think of it this way: If to do your work, and you had to hire day care or household help, or even delivery services, would you turn a profit? Because when you take this profession seriously, there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything. I am living this lately and I'm to the point where I groan when I realize that, dang it, we've eaten everything in the house yet again!

    I don't know exactly what kind of work you're doing, but the answer below concerns finished artwork, like portraits or children's books:

    I am sort if in the same boat as you right now with illustration, but I am determined to ask for an "industry standard" price, if only because I remember that back when I used to paint oil portraits, I did the first few for low prices and the clients tried to critique every little brushstroke. What I noticed was that, the more experience I got, the more I was in demand, and the more I raised my prices--the more respect I got! Sure, I improved with experience, but I don't think I was five times better than before just because I charged five times as much (once I had reached a very respectable industry standard). That showed me that I was charging too little at the beginning. There really is something to charging the going price as soon as you can, if for no other reason than to get respect from your clients and not to undercut other artists. But also, it gives you some breathing room to keep exploring and improving your work.

    Also, I wouldn't charge by the hour, except for revisions after an initial round appropriate to that phase of the work. And then make it enough that the client has to at least think carefully about what he/she wants before adding to your workload. With a per job price instead of an hourly rate, though, you won't end up cutting the hours just to make the client happy, and another plus is that everyone knows what to expect from the outset.

  • @Valerie-Light thank you! Iโ€™ll check it out!

  • @NessIllustration Someone recently approached me to create two illustrations of a cartoon character of mine to use in a fun newspaper for children. As far as I know, they will be giving away the newspaper for free. However, I feel the quote they provided may be too high ๐Ÿ™‚ Keyword: may. I still need to get more details but wanted to use this opportunity to ask if I would appear unprofessional if I reduced their offer?

  • Pro

    @danielerossi As in... they offered you like $1000 but you think you should be paid only $500? :o That's a new one! Why would you do that? If they have the budget and are happy to compensate you properly, then accept it!

  • @NessIllustration Exactly. I guess itโ€™s a higher amount than Iโ€™m used to and Iโ€™m just starting out.

  • Pro

    @danielerossi Oh hun, it doesn't matter that you're just starting out. You have much to offer with your beautiful art! Clearly the client believes your work is bringing them that much value. Please don't sell yourself short. Not only it would not be to your own advantage, it would make you look unprofessional, unconfident and maybe even rude. I assume they're happy to be able to pay an artist a good rate for their great work. Let them!

    Plus the sooner you start taking and accepting higher offer, the sooner it'll start feeling normal for you. Because the problem here isn't that they're offering too much (they're not), it's that you don't feel comfortable with this money because you don't believe your art is worth it. This is something for you to work on, not them. Lowering the amount will not fix the issue, but gaining more confidence will, even if you have to fake it until you make it. Please accept it and congrats on the gig ๐Ÿ™‚

  • @NessIllustration thank you so much! โค๏ธ

  • @NessIllustration Wow youโ€™re right! I never thought of it that way. Iโ€™m printing this piece out as a reminder. Thanks!

  • @danielerossi why would you reduce their offer? If they are the publisher they know what they should pay and may actually be paying you less.

    You never take less then offered unless you can pick up more on the back end.

Log in to reply