Hourly rate for a UK designer for US client

Now I know this will have come up many times before about how much to charge per hour. I have done a shed load of work for a UK company who sell their to products to over 80 countries. They have a very successful subsidiary US company and I have also done a lot of work for them too.
The US company has asked me to artwork and design a new product brochure to replace their existing 64 pager. This new one will be much bigger.
They are super friendly to deal with, they pay on time 30 days ish and they keep coming back, that’s worth something. They will never be mentioned in Clients from Hell.
Since at this stage nobody knows how many pages and how long it might take, I have to be flexible. The Managing Director of the UK co. has said he prefers an hourly rate x the number of logged hours per month.
Generally things are more expensive in the UK so I’m unsure how to charge a reasonable balance on hourly rates. I have very little overheads as I have an office at home. I’ve been a graphic designer since 1970 and self employed since around 1980 I’ve done work for Marks & Spencers, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Coop, Mattersons, and worked for most kinds of UK industries so I’ve been around while.
I’m looking for figures here guys i.e. £35ph, £45ph, £70ph, etc, etc … Not a page rate.
Any helpful advice will be carefully considered. If you’ve read this far, thank you.

Figure out how much you want to be paid for it and work backwards on the hours.

I’d be looking for a substantial amount, say it’s £1,500

If you were to tell them £35ph then it would take you 42 hours.

If you tell them it’s £30ph then it would take you 50 hours.

If they say they expect it completed in 40 hours (1 weeks work)
Then you’re £37.50 an hour.

That’s the way I’d do it.

Yes, thanks Smurf. A fair enough approach except that neither them nor I know how big this project will be until it’s done. Hence my looking for a hourly rate and then it will be what it will be. For instance I have spent 36 hours on it this month and it’s nowhere near finished.

It’s always a tricky one this, but at the end of the day all designers and (other trades too), have to know what their trade is worth per hour, not per job, otherwise you might as well go and drive a bus. I mean what is the minimum any designer will work for? It’s no good saying I want to make £xxxx and it takes over 75 hours, then your pay is actually quite low. Appreciate your response.

Don’t think so.

I price work on what it’s worth. You’d drive a bus for the same price as any other.

If I was doing a magazine for a museum or an art gallery, the price is much different than that of the local community centre.

And I work with some pharma and they get charged more than I’d charge Joe Blogg down the road.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s an hourly rate based on stature.

I couldn’t possibly charge Joe Blogg mechanic £125ph - and I can’t charge the pharma companies £25ph.

I guess you really need to go away and talk with the client to find out what their budget is and what is actually feasible, the hours you have worked and how much that equates to now.

You can always say you’re highest rate is £90ph or something like that so they are at £3000 at the moment.

If they say they’re budget is £1000 or they say it’s a £10,000 you know where you’re at.

But really budgetary requirements could have ironed out at the start.

This is where I’d submit a provisional quote.
And you can only really quote the job once it’s decided what the content is and how many pages, and how much work is involved from your side.

At that - I’d provisionally quote at what’s comfortable for you.

You’ve already done 36 hours - £1800 enough to cover your work? Or do you need to go a bit higher or lower?

Thanks Smurf, all good points. I think what I’ll do is tell them for what I’ve done so far, around 40 pages, it’ll cost ‘this much’ and see how they react. I was working to their printed content brief and now they’re wondering if there is too much info. So I may have to back and delete some of the stuff I’ve done so far. Clients eh? I think in my heart I want to charge less that 50 an hour, purely because they and the associated companies are great clients. Thanks for your reply.

I once had a friend who ran a print house, and he used to say, “I call them customers, I don’t charge them enough to call them clients.” Ha ha.

Yeh it’s a tough spot. But find out the budget for the project.
I always start there.

I agree, but I’ve always found clients (or customers) reluctant to offer that info because they know you’ll spend up to that when they may have got it cheaper if they’re vague.

That kind of sentiment is best kept out of up-front business dealings, lest you are left shortchanging yourself. Maybe you’re worth 75/hr to them; if you quote 45, how will you ever know? They’ll take you for a sucker. Better to quote at the 75, and if they ask whether it could be a lower rate, then you allow your heart to offer a discount. That way their heart feels it too.

And moreover, they won’t take your knowledge and experience as seriously. I usually have two rates, one for commercial work and one for non-profit work. That way, if they balk at the high rate, you have some wiggle room, to a rate which is still comfortably profitable but not as low as you charge for non-profits, etc. That way, they feel like they are still getting an £xx per hour designer at a negotiated discounted rate and your credibility as a quality designer remains.

I start with the top rate and if they aren’t going to go for it, you then say something like, well my rate for non-profits, etc is £x p/h. I could offer you an x% discount on full rate to get a bit closer (maybe half way) to that. Win/win. They get you at what they perceive to be a reduced rate and you are still earning well. Don’t low ball it. They’ll trust your judgement less. If you don’t get the job purely because someone came in cheaper, you didn’t want the job anyway. I want to work for clients who value my abilities and experience, not because my price is better.

Of course, all of that depends on you being able to back up a high hourly rate, but from what you say about your experience, I am guessing you can.

1 Like

I’ve read lots of podcast/Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/author designers argue in favor of abandoning the hourly rate and determining fees based on something called “value pricing.” Briefly, this means factoring in how much value your work brings to the client and charging accordingly. For example, a brochure for a mom & pop bakery will be of modest value to the owners, but a similar brochure might be of much larger value to a big-name company at a trade show promoting some new multi-million-dollar product. That’s not the full argument, but it mostly relies on that concept.

Despite having heard the argument a dozen times, I still don’t entirely buy into it. It might work for those who command top dollar and have clients waiting in the wings, but this description doesn’t apply to most freelancers.

In my opinion, something more realistic considers the value the work brings to the client, the size of the client, and factoring those things into a base hourly rate. In addition, overhead, availability, past history, experience, potential hassles, unbillable time, desire to do the work, etc., all need to be factored in.

As for that base hourly rate, it depends.

It makes no sense for a fast, experienced designer who gets the work done in half the time to charge the same hourly rate as a novice. That kind of hourly pricing structure would lead to the experienced designer only making half as much as the novice. In other words, the faster and better you might be at something the more you need to charge.

In addition, someone living in London or New York City will need to charge more than someone living in Bismark, North Dakota since the cost of living differs dramatically.

It’s really a matter of factoring everything in to come up with a base rate that covers all your expenses, taxes, and downtime. Once you’ve done that, you can add how much you’ll need to charge to make the profit you want to make. If you want to, and the client warrants it, you can add the value-based thing on top of that.

What I try never to do is give an hourly rate to clients. Most clients aren’t savvy enough to realize that a good, experienced designer is faster than a beginner, so the higher hourly rate might seem unreasonable. If a client insists on an hourly figure, I’ll give it to them, but I’ll preface it with an explanation that I get things done in fewer hours (and better).

There’s also the matter of freelancers just plain needing work, with almost any work at any price being better than sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. A possible strategy to deal with this is to mention your usual rate (fixed or hourly when necessary), then pause for the client’s reaction. If they balk, ask them what fee they would feel comfortable with, then negotiate something in between.

I understand all this is uncomfortable for most designers. We didn’t go into this business due to our natural sales skills. Nonetheless, it’s a skill that needs to be developed or freelancing will almost always turn out bad.

1 Like

I had a doctors (GP) office look for prescription pads to be designed for his office.

He wanted 150 sheets per pad and 24 pads, presumably to last the year.
A doctors prescription pad isn’t all that exciting. But weighing it up. He would roughly have €150k from handing out prescriptions.

Or at leas repeat prescriptions which can cost €20 and even at that if all were repeats, still adds up to about €72k for the year.

I quoted say the what a doctor costs for a visit which is here €60 a visit.
I quoted €60 for the price of the prescription pad design. It was a bit more for the printing, gluing etc.

The quote was like this

€60 design
€250 print of pads
€310 total

The doctors office then had the nerve to request no design fee.

I wouldn’t waiver on the price. The price is the price.
I literally said to him that I don’t go into his office and demand he treat me for free.

He finally agreed to the price.

€310 for prescription pads that earns him €70k+ a year.

They still have script pads over there? Not allowed here anymore. Everything is done via the net. And even then they call to make double, triple, extra sure with special chocolate sauce that the doctor actually called it in.


Actually I shouldn’t say “over here” … here in NY at least. Other places in the country are still living in the 50’s lol :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeh, pretty much the way it’s done here. However, since COVID I only call the GP and my script is sent to the Pharmacy and I just have to call it in to the Pharmacy, so times are changing.

Hey, we have chip and pin in our credit/debit cards though. And nobody uses cheques here :smiley: :smiley:

My brother lives in Michigan and he’s shocked how far behind the banking systems are :smiley:

Guess we have different priorities! :smiley:

Everything here has the chip too. Again … in NY I can’t speak for the rest of the country. I still do use checks on occasion … but it’s rare these days. However we do have some places that simply won’t take debit or credit as they refuse to pay a percentage of their profits to the big corps for the fees they charge to allow their use. So they are cash only businesses. I just can’t go cashless … I have to have some green in my wallet

Yeh, my brother was over last Christmas and he had to sign using his credit/debit card, the guy in the shop didn’t know what to do, my brother explained he can’t use the pin machine as there’s no chip in the card. The guy in the store had to get his manager…

It was weird :smiley:

Yes, places here won’t take card either due to the fees. But it’s rare. Most places now want the card.

We have contactless payment cards here - just hover the card over the machine to pay up to €50.

But anything over that requires pin.

I pay for stuff using my phone now too. It’s so handy.

1 Like

©2021 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook