Pricing yourself...ugh

  • Does anyone else struggle with pricing like I do? When someone asks me what I would charge for a piece I get simultaneously thrilled and horrified. I don't want to work for pennies but I don't want to chase them off either. A small publisher has approached me and I know they want ME but I'm still so not confident with this stuff. Got any experience or wisdom on this subject? The money topic just makes me cringe!

  • SVS OG

    From past experience - set an hourly wage for yourself, with a minimum price, like charge a minimum of $20 for a piece, and then pay yourself $60 an hour. so if a piece takes 45 min, it's $45, if it takes 15 min, it's $20. that's just an example, but hopefully it makes sense. Don't sell yourself short, and don't forget if you have research time in there too. It works pretty good for estimating too, if you know about how long something takes 🙂

  • Wow, I wish I could charge $60 an hour. I'm not anybody though. I need a rep to do all this thinking for me!

  • @gimmehummus
    its hard, but there are plenty of videos on this topic. I think Will Terry and Chris Oatley had some really insightful ones.

    i would setup hourly rate and then do an estimate or let the client see what you can do for some given time and then re-adjust. Remeber and let clients know that they are not paying you just for the time spent, but also all the time you spent to learn the craft. And also as you get better, you get faster.

    I cannot speak for myself much, I didnt do much paid work.

  • Its hard, first you have to start accepting and respecting yourself as a pro. Than ask yourself, what do I need to figure out what you need to earn by hour, (as @Lynn-Larson said 60,00 is a normal hour rate. ) If you want to be a pro, you have to force yourself to become a entrepreneur, so Bulling is a part of that. You can do it!

  • I feel the same, I am terrible at it.
    Even an hourly rate, I have no idea of what it should be. besides I am terribly slow, so slow that it would cost an absolute fortune if I charged by the hour!
    And I often can't evaluate how much time something is going to take me
    good luck!

  • I was told to not set an hourly rate and that you should look at the project as a whole then give a price. The advice said you don't want the clients to know what your worth hourly for some reason. I was really confused by this and still am, how else does one price time and effort? I like the idea of setting your private hourly rate that you don't share, you use it to gauge the project and give a price off of that. In this way you can price yourself according to your beliefs and not seem like you're over or under selling yourself according to an hourly rate.

    Don't sell yourself short! They want YOU!

  • SVS OG

    @bharris Yeah, it's a private hourly rate! I would never tell someone how much i charge an hour, just look at the project, guestimate a time, and then use that pricing for the quote 🙂

    Unless it is a job i wouldn't want/don't have time for, then i would give an insanely inflated price. if they are willing to pay it then woohoo hehe

  • SVS OG

    I agree--it is useful to privately know how much you would like to make per hour, but that isn't something you need to tell clients. What is more important to know is how long it will take you to do a given illustration (give or take) and how much you want to do it, how busy you are, and how much you need not to lose the job.

    Over time I have kept track of about how long it takes me to complete illustrations, so now I have a pretty good idea (though there are always outliers--some that just take forever and others that seem to just flow really quickly.)

  • @audrey-dowling What you said is exactly my problem. I can never estimate how long something will take. Every time I go to start a new painting I think I'll pay attention but then I get caught up in the fun. Note to Adobe - include an auto time tracker on each file!

  • @gimmehummus Ow I have the same problem. But than in time, you'll work faster. Sometimes I work long on an assignment, and sometimes it doesn't take that long and it gets into balance.

  • I estimate my web design work which should translate roughly to this I think. There are a few sites that will break down what you need to make hourly based on your goals and yearly expenses. I started from this point then I have a pretty good idea of what certain tasks, projects will take me but I also buffer this with how much I think I will need in terms of dealing with the client. Client's don't like to see an admin line on their invoices so I roll this into the overall cost. Some clients will have more revisions than others and some need a ton of hand holding. So always consider any research you might need and how much admin work you will need to do for the project. I agree with others as well, if you don't need the project to make ends meet tack on a little extra. This will help you mentally make the transition as well when you need to up your fees as you grow. For time tracking I use manually and to gauge how much I am spending in each app and goofing off 🙂

  • Lydia your work is good!
    Definitely charge more than you think you're worth. it's super scary but you won't end up resenting your client at the end of the day. There will always be changes, even with a great client. It probably won't be as fun as doing a personal project so make it worth it to you!
    I had to learn this the hard way. But with every project I up my prices and I get a bit bolder. You'll get there. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Don't forget when pricing it all depends on what rights the client is acquiring and how the art will be used.

    Who owns the original artwork?

    Kill fee?

    First rights or all rights?



    Changes/client alterations?

    It's not just about the time and skill involved but also about future monetization as well.

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