great designers come with a price

why great graphic design requires a large investment

Why do top-skilled graphic designers charge so much? Why hire a specific designer when others offer the same services for less? These are questions I hear all the time in my line of work, especially from new business owners.

Even people who work with graphic designers regularly need to be reminded why they’re paying what they are. When it comes to investing your hard-earned money on great graphic design, the most important factor to consider is value.


Time doesn’t equal money

For graphic designers, time and skill are completely unrelated, so charging an hourly rate isn’t really all that fair. Each of us has a different set of skills and some of us work very quickly, while others work more slowly.

Speed doesn’t indicate skill level. Fast-paced designers like myself aren’t necessarily better than slower ones–we’re just so familiar with the work we do that it becomes like second nature. For example, some designers know how to automate their workflow using keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop and some don’t. Not knowing these shortcuts doesn’t make a designer less talented.

There are multiple factors that affect a designer’s speed, from knowledge of software to the amount of times we get interrupted during the day by other things (ie – kids, pets, phone calls, etc.) and these things can change every day. Some days the Adobe Cloud just isn’t on our side and Photoshop refuses to cooperate. Some days my creative energy soars and allows me to be really focused and knock out tons of work, while other days are less productive simply because it’s rainy outside and it’s bringing me down. [shrug emoji]


You’re paying for attention

Marie Masse always chooses my highest pricing tier because it gives her peace of mind. Although some weeks may be slow and not a lot of design work is needed, Marie says she is confident in her investment because she knows that when things do pick up again, I’m right there ready to support her.

My highest price ensures that the clients in that tier will receive the most attention from me. Their work becomes my top priority. This is one reason I even specify hours under each of my packages. That number merely represents the maximum amount of hours I’m willing to devote to that client per month.

Additionally, design services are priced to include markup. Most of the software designers use is cloud-based, which means we’re paying to use them every single day. Adobe Photoshop no longer comes in a physical form that you can pick up at Best Buy for $900. It requires a monthly subscription. Similarly, properly (and legally) licensing high quality fonts and stock photos comes with a fairly hefty price tag. The more we are able to spend on these types of things, the better attention our clients receive. We can maintain a level of quality and expertise that isn’t possible without such resources, continued training and/or hands-on work.


Quality over quantity

Time doesn’t equal money, and it also doesn’t equal quality. Whether or not all [insert any number] hours are used shouldn’t be a variable in consideration when choosing to invest in a graphic designer.

The price of a graphic designer should directly correlate to the value being received. Now, let’s be clear about the definition of the word “value”. I’m not talking about the actual amount of hours we work or the amount of pieces we design. I’m talking about the quality of the work received and the quality of the relationship the client has with the designer.

Personally, I like going all-in. I require a 6-month contract for all of my monthly clients because I need to get to know each client and their brand in order to do a great job. A style guide just isn’t enough for me to familiarize myself with a brand, and an “about me” page on a website isn’t enough for me to really understand the client and their business. It’s important to me that I understand the individual goals, audiences, styles of each client I work with, beyond just the visual aspects.

Value encompasses so many things from reliability to skill level. For example, the amount of times something needs to be redesigned is a sign of that service’s level of value.

It’s important to me that my clients can rely on my services for quality design work every single time. Whether it’s a simple social media graphic or a 20-page workbook for a course, I don’t half-ass anything for anyone. The amount of attention each client receives depends on their investment, however, the level of attention each client receives is the same, whether they pay me $600/mo or $1200/mo.

All the perks of working with great graphic designers should be reflected in our pricing. You can’t expect great quality from someone charging $5 for a logo, and even if you have had good experiences with inexpensive designers, they’ve already moved on to other clients and you’ll just have to get in line.

The next time you want to hire a graphic designer, consider what our prices include beyond just the tangible or measurable aspects. A great designer values value and provides clients with an experience they won’t receive anywhere else.

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Roger that. I’ll keep you posted!