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How to Charge What You’re Worth: Navigating Pricing and Negotiations as a Freelance Designer

You deserve to be fairly compensated for your skills, expertise, and hard work

UX/UI Design
3 minute read 

One of the most challenging aspects of running your own freelance business as a designer is determining how much to charge for your services. Many designers struggle with pricing and negotiations, often undervaluing their work and not charging what they're worth (I know because I’ve had this problem in the past and I get asked about it all the time). However, it's crucial to understand your value and charge accordingly to ensure you are fairly compensated for your skills and expertise. I wanted to share some advice and suggestions to help you charge what you’re worth.

Know Your Worth

Step one is to understand the value you bring to the table for your clients. Consider your years of experience, expertise in a particular design niche, portfolio of work, and the results you've achieved for your clients. Take the time to research the industry standards and competitive pricing in your market. You can use freelance job forums and websites like https://www.designjobsboard.com/ or www.ifyoucouldjobs.com to see what rates others are charging and use this as a reference point. This will help you set a baseline for your rates and understand the value you provide to your clients.

Define Your Pricing Structure

Once you know your worth, it's important to define a clear pricing structure for your services. There are several pricing models to choose from such as hourly rates, project-based rates, or value-based rates. Each has its pros and cons, so choose the one that aligns with your business goals and allows you to charge what you're worth. Ensure your pricing structure is transparent, easy to understand, and clearly communicated to your clients. Remember, you could have a pricing structure for small teams and another for corporate clients if you need different price points for your business.

Consider Your Expenses

When determining your rates, it's crucial to consider your expenses. As a freelance designer, you're not only charging for your creative skills but also covering your business overhead costs, such as software subscriptions, equipment, office space, and taxes (along with holidays, pensions and sick leave). Make sure to calculate your expenses and include them in your pricing to ensure that you're covering your creative work and your business costs.


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Value Your Time

Time is a valuable asset as a freelance designer. You should charge for your time and expertise accordingly. Avoid underestimating the time it takes to complete a project and be mindful of scope creep, which can cause projects to go beyond the original timeline. Set clear boundaries and communicate them with your clients to ensure your time is respected and compensated. If the project changes or things are taking substantially longer than planned, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your client and negotiate if necessary.

Be Confident in Your Pricing

Confidence is key when it comes to pricing and negotiations. Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth and stand behind your rates. Remember that you're providing a professional service, and it's important to be compensated fairly for your skills and expertise. Be confident in communicating your value to your clients and justify your rates based on your experience, portfolio, and results.

Learn to Negotiate

Negotiations are a common part of freelance work as clients may have different budgets or expectations, so be prepared for these conversations. But remember, it's essential to hold your ground and not undervalue your services. Be willing to explain the value you provide and justify your rates. Be open to finding a compromise that is fair for both parties, but do not settle for rates that don't align with your worth. A quick tip: Don’t offer a discount without good reason or clients may come to expect or request a discount each time they hire you.

Build Relationships

Building strong relationships with your clients can help you charge what you're worth - your goal might be to become more of a partner for your clients rather than being seen as a freelancer. When you have a good working relationship and a proven track record of delivering high-quality work, clients are more likely to value your services and be willing to pay your rates. Focus on building long-term relationships with your clients based on trust, communication, and delivering exceptional results. This takes time but is absolutely worthwhile.

Charging what you're worth as a freelance designer is hard work and takes practice and exploration to get right. Don’t forget that your pricing will change as your expertise grows and you offer more value to your clients. Luckily, as freelancers, we’re in charge of our own business decisions so we can adjust our pricing until it feels right! Remember, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your skills, expertise, and hard work.

If you want to find some additional resources on running your freelance business and negotiations, check out a few books that have helped me over the years: