Custom Design Resell

Soooooo, I have a returning client who wanted a double sided business card that incorporated elements from some of her previous materials and then some new elements. She is the leader of a support group, and sent the proof to a couple of her staff members for review. The first round didn’t go over so well, so I made a new design based off of the review and then incorporated some additional elements that she wanted added. OMG info overload on this business card but it’s what she wants (teeth gritted & moving on as I have strongly been encouraged to do by you guys!!).

A couple days ago I emailed out the new design to my client, as well as the group I saw that she shared the proof link with. In the past the returning client has been my only means of contact and dialog. I have not heard back from her yet; however, I did hear back from one of her staff members. The staff member loves the new design and wants the same design for herself, of course with the contact info changed.

Now, basically she would just be buying a template, right? Her price would be significantly lower than that charged to my returning client. However, the design, colors, fonts, wording, etc. was a custom design specifically based off of the retuning client’s ideas and given materials (as far as I know). Is it ok to sell it to the staff member? Do I need to consult the returning client before I sell it to the staff member? What would be proper etiquette here? The returning client never mentioned anything about individual cards for her staff members and was only charged for the one design.


Are you saying that everyone in the organization has different designs for their business cards? If so, they don’t seem to get the whole consistent branding thing.

Anyway, I might handle the problem by emailing back and writing something similar to this: “Just to make sure, you’re asking for the same design as _____'s business card, correct?”

I would do that while also copying the email to the team leader. This way, you can be sure the team leader knows about it. If she objects, you’ll find out soon enough. If the team leader doesn’t respond, you can probably take that as an indication that she’s OK with it.

I don’t know anything about the them, other than the items the leader has asked me to make. From my understanding it’s a community support group not a formal organization or business; and there isn’t website or profile page. I was introduced to my client via the now defunct small business I was a freelancer for. This is the first time I am working with her outside of the place I used to work for. Thus, in reference to the support group itself, I don’t think anyone has a business card or anything of the likes that ties them specifically to the support group other than the leader, my initial client. The support group leader and I have not talked about branding. As originally I thought this was a one off flyer deal. I made a flyer, later a poster and invitation, and her most recent order was a bookmark and business card. Everything that I have made since the original flyer design, has all been based around elements from that flyer.

So maybe “staff member” was the wrong title, sorry for any confusion. But this other person who is also in the support group, I assume helps to run it, wants the same business card, with her personal contact info added. She is making up her own title, as the title of the leader is “motivational inspirator”.

In conclusion…

Well, Just-B, I applied your advice, and I copied the leader on my follow-up. She was actually cool with things AND they want to have a sit about branding and coming up with a monthly schedule for items. Seeing as this is my first regular solo client (outside of working for an established business & being the “next available” designer), I am now charged with coming up with a package deal.

Internet research can be very tricky on helping to develop pricing. As someone on the forum pointed out, in short, how do you compete with folks charging bargain basement prices? There are so many reasons why prices are the way the are ( whether “low” or “high”)…demand, skill level/experience, socio-economic status, global region, etc. Another issue, at least for me, my biggest issue, is seeing the value of my work. My work is usually received well, it’s getting outside of my own judgmental head that can be the issue. I am still a newbie (3-ish years at it). I don’t plan on getting anymore formal education outside of my associate degree, I can’t afford it…so, for the time being this will be a learning while doing process.

You don’t.

You sell your experience, skills and expertise, assuming you have them in the first place, competing on price is a lose-lose approach. You’ll never be able to go low enough and survive, plus you’ll attract cheap clients who will always want blood from a stone.

If you are in the states, look at the graphic arts guild guide.

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I will look into it for sure. There’s also always the thought of “am I charging too much”. Let’s see what the guide says, thanks for the reference.

Congratulations! That’s how it works; show people that you have more to offer than they originally expected and sometimes they realize the value and send more work.

Some clients insist on great work, know the difference when they see it, know where to hire the talent, and expect to pay a premium for it. These are the best clients, but they’re also the most difficult to get.

Other clients just want cheap work and don’t appreciate or can’t afford quality. They’re the ones who you don’t want anyway.

However, some clients do appreciate and want quality, but they’re inexperienced or naive and think they’ll always get great work on the crowdsourcing sites for very little money. They’re mistaken, of course, but these are the clients who are open to something better if you can demonstrate that you’re worth the extra cost.

The crowdsourcing site “designers” are typically people overseas, many have little to no formal design education, most are amateurs, many are teenagers trying to make pocket change, many work in sweatshops in poorer countries, and many steal ideas from others or sell the same design over and over.

Crowdsourcing and cut-rate designers never analyze the needs of clients, never consider the client’s competitors, rarely make an effort to design for the target audiences, and don’t develop strategies custom-designed to accomplish the client’s goals. Even when they might want to, they don’t have the time since it’s simply not doable without time and effort. They’re too busy banging stuff out for dirt cheap to do anything more.

It’s really a matter of leveraging what you offer and convincing clients that what you offer is worth the extra money and that it will pay off for them several times over.

The Graphic Artist Guild’s handbook pricing guidelines need to be taken with a grain of salt. A client living in New York City or San Francisco is used to paying higher prices and charging high prices. On the other hand, a client in Casper, Wyoming or Kingman, Arizona will be used to paying less and charging less. Even so, the handbook is a good starting place with lots of valuable information about a lot of things.

I found it interesting and bought a copy when I first started, but instinctively knew it didn’t really work for the marketplace I was in. At least it gives you, as you say, a good starting point. Combined with your local market forces, you should be able to determine the right level to pitch yourself at.

When I first started working for myself, after the first year of trading and picking up clients, my accountant said to me, ‘Double your prices.’

Like most people starting out, I’d stayed on the cautious side to make sure I didn’t lose potential work by being seen as too expensive. I had enough clients to keep my head above water and they were OK. They paid on time (mostly), and gave me repeat business, but, I wasn’t getting the kind of work I really wanted to be doing.

At first, I balked at his suggestion, thinking I would price myself out of the market. Instead, the opposite happened. I started picking up the kind of clients I wanted to work with. Of course, you have to be able to justify the prices, in both the quality of the work and the service / knowledge you have to offer, but by this time, I already had around five-six years of studio experience in London agencies.

If you are good enough, but your prices are too cheap, top-flight clients won’t take you seriously. If you were in the market for a high quality watch and you saw one that had all the features you wanted, it was the finest quality, but only $49.99 and all the other equivalents were in the thousands, you’d assume it was a counterfeit knock-off.

Naturally, you can’t charge more than market rates, or you will price yourself out. Since that first year, any price increases I’ve implemented have been incremental, but that advice was some of the best I’ve ever had. Notably, he didn’t suggest it from the outset. It has to happen once you have enough of a track-record to back it up.

With the employed agency experience I’d had, I’d worked with good clients, but after going freelance, the calibre dropped and I risked continuing this trend unless I put myself into the market I wanted to be in. If you are good enough and have enough experience – and if you are really honest with yourself and not deluding yourself, you’ll know if this is the case – don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. Thanks

If you’re not there yet, work your socks off to get to the point where you can play in the same sandpit as the big kids.

If you are not sure, you can always post your work here in the crit pit. You’ll always be able to get an honest, fair (if sometimes, hard to swallow) critique.

You are so right… after reading this and rereading it, it was like lightbulb went off. Once again, thanks so much for the input. Even when I have submitted things to critique and it’s felt a little harsh, I do take all of the comments on here to heart and try to work with the advice that I get because in the end it is very much so helpful.

Try not to. In this business you need to develop a thick skin. They are objective criticisms intended to help you grow. Never meant personally.

Those of us who have been doing this a long time know how difficult it is to get to the point where you can charge decent money – because you have a decent service to offer. I just wish I’d had a resource like this when I was starting out, instead of having to learn the hard way.

If you are going to grow, use it. Someone will usually take the time tell you where you’re going wrong, or where there are weaknesses that need tightening up.

If they do take the time, it is probably because they see some promise. Those $10 logo merchants, usually get very short shrift at best, or often just ignored completely. If people offer a critique, it’s because the work is worth critiquing in the first place.

Stick with it, it’ll be worth it in the long run. You just have to find the path you want to go down and work your backside off to achieve it.


Reading the OPs responses here, I’m not clear if the card created for the first person is appropriate for the second person. If the card was created for a business that is being run by the first person, if the second person does not work for that same business, it would be unethical to sell the same design to the second person.

I’m not sure why you’d be selling it at all. It was created for the owner of the business. If the second person is an employee, then it’s just a name change on the business card.

We are working through it and right now better assessing the needs of the group (not business), like among other pieces wanted, how many other level business cards and the info. to be added/subtracted. I may be misunderstanding you but, yes, it may just be a name/contact info. change but I am still going to charge them something, it’s still time spent. At the time of the original posting, to me, in seemed like I was selling the other group member the card because where she is someone affiliated with the group she did not order the card but wanted the same thing. From my brief experience (as compared to most of you) anytime I go into something thinking it’s going to be a 1 minute update the client always sends me back to make a number of changes that are not in the original charge. This time I just want to be prepared and not feel like a dummy doing extra work for $0.

Any time there are changes that are outside the agreed upon contract (you are using contracts, right?) you write up a change order adding cost to the bottom line price. What I meant was more along the lines of if the person is a member of the ‘club’ then the card just needs a name change, which falls under the “minimum order charge.” If 10 people need cards, that’s 10 names, and still might fall under “minimum order charge” if it’s under the 1/2 hour or hour or whatever you split that to. We don’t do work for free either. We split to 30 minute increments with a minimum of 1 hour for desk work, 4 hours for install work.

No contract but now that I will be working primarily for myself I know that that is something that I need to have prepared for clients. This was just a client that came over from my previous employer. I think I mentioned somewhere on here that that business folded over the summer. Currently, I am making a website for my new venture, which will focus on designs for memorial keepsakes (something I get the most enjoyment out of designing). Hopefully, by the end of the month I will have the site launched for the Forum’s viewing pleasure and critique. I will definitely have a very clear terms and conditions page on the site!!! Even though there’s little to zero coding involved it is still a bitch making a website.

Thanks everyone for all of your advice. I have a lot to think about and work with here.