Freelance Graphic Design Rates 2018: How Much Should You Pay?

Wondering how much you should be paying for graphic design work for your business? We were too! We dug into the different factors that affect freelancer graphic design rates and laid out what you can expect to pay for each based on a variety of factors you need to consider.

On FreeeUp, each freelancer sets his or her own rates and works to provide estimates based on your project’s scope, goals, and outcomes. The guidelines we lay out here are a great starting point to help you budget your upcoming graphic design work, but are not hard-and-fast rules on what a designer may charge.

Factors that Affect Freelance Graphic Design Rates

There are a lot of factors that can affect what you can expect to pay for a freelance graphic designer. Again, all of them set their own rates and can charge based on whatever factors they deem necessary for their work. For the most part, these factors can be divided into three categories:

  • Freelancer Location
  • Level of Experience
  • Type of Graphic Design Work

This list of factors is by no means exhaustive, but does account for a majority of the variation you’ll experience among designers.

Location, Location, Location

In the old days, proximity used to be a rock solid, impassable barrier. For the most part, freelance graphic designers had to be local to you. Now, however, with the gig economy, the world is smaller than ever thanks to technology, which, naturally, has an impact on the cost of freelance graphic designers.

Most graphic design these days is done electronically, so the files can be sent around the world. But print isn’t dead. Even if you work with an international graphic design freelancer, you can coordinate printing and shipping of any printed pieces to make sure you’re getting the most economical price.

Where a freelancer is located has a big impact on the rates they charge for graphic design work. You can expect to pay more for a graphic designer from the US or UK than you would for one from the Philippines or India.

When you’re choosing whether you want a graphic design freelancer from the US, from outside the US, or if you don’t have a preference, take into consideration language barriers, time zone differences, quality of work, and, of course, rate.

With online marketplaces like FreeeUp and the ability to take advantage of instant communication, freelancers are now taking advantage of new opportunities by making themselves more available and more visible to clients around the world. They can, and do, promote themselves and present their work online.

Choosing a qualified graphic designer that matches your needs becomes much easier, andcommunication on projects follows suit. It’s a great time in history to be a freelance graphic designer, and, of course, a great time to hire one who is just right for whatever project you have on the table.

Level of Experience

Graphic design involves more than just moving pictures around on a page. Not surprisingly, the level of experience a freelance designer has makes a big impact on their rates. When you compare someone who has been designing for 20 years against someone new to this type of work, there’s going to be a rate gap.

If you want someone who can take a project and use their past experience to bring life into your brand, you’ll likely want to work with an expert-level freelance designer. On the other hand, if you are comfortable providing a lot of direction and working back and forth on revisions, a basic level freelancer might work great.

There is an endless pool of highly qualified and talented graphic designers out there to choose from, and each one is competing for the gig and brings different strengths to a project. Some price by the hour, while others prefer fixed bid projects. Most graphic designers will discuss your project with you and communicate their pricing structure ahead of time. Some projects are fairly clear cut, while others are more complex, and the freelancer will take that into consideration when discussing rates.

There is no rigid template or rock solid guide for pricing in graphic design. Though it is generally within the confines of competition, sometimes a match between a designer and client may mean paying a bit more. Every business seeking graphic design freelancers should understand that each designer is independent and proceed accordingly. Each one’s process, design style, and approach to client relationships is different, but the goal is always the same: mutual satisfaction.

Type of Graphic Design Work

You may think graphic design is graphic design, right? Well, there are actually a lot of different types of graphic design. While many of the design skills are transferable to the different types, a lot of designers have preferences on the types of work they do and have strengths where they shine the most.

Some different types of graphic design include:

  • Layout — Simple text and graphic layout that usually doesn’t require building new design elements. This type of project is usually good for newer designers and those with less experience.
  • Web design — Creating graphics for digital marketing channels, all the way up to designing an entire website. Quality can vary greatly in this category, so consider a designer’s portfolio alongside their listed rate.
  • Print design — Designing publications that will be printed in hard copies (newsletters, billboards, postcards, etc.), as well as other merchandise (mugs, t-shirts, pens, bags, notepads, etc.). You’ll want a designer experienced in the specific requirements of your print project to make sure all goes well.
  • Branding — Creating or refining the graphic representation of a brand and building elements from scratch. You’ll likely want the most experienced, highly professional graphic designers for branding projects since this work will be the foundation of your brand.

That’s not an exhaustive list, but it starts to give you an idea of the different types of design that exist. Each type requires different knowledge, requirements, and skills. For example, web design and print design are done in completely different color systems (RGB vs. CMYK).

Each freelance graphic designer may be an expert in one or two of these styles, and be mediocre in the others. Other designer may have skills and experience in all the design types, without excelling at any one in particular, and be able to help with multimedia projects.

It’s important to be clear about your expectations and needs so you can connect with a freelance graphic designer that can complete your project up to your standards.

What Should You Expect to Pay for Freelance Graphic Design?

On FreeeUp, freelancers set their own rates, but there are guidelines on hourly rates you might expect to pay for different locations and levels of expertise. You’ll notice the rate ranges are large, especially for the US, UK, and Canada designers; this is a common theme among freelance graphic designers and even among freelancers in general.

Here are the rate guidelines we use at FreeeUp. These are all listed as hourly rates:

United States, United Kingdom, Canada:

  • Mid-level: $25-$35 per hour
  • Expert: $35-$75+ per hour

Philippines, India, and similar countries:

  • Basic: $9-$15 per hour
  • Mid-level: $15-$25 per hour
  • Expert: $30-$50 per hour

Again, these are just guidelines. Every designer works at different paces on projects. Experienced freelancers will know approximately how long a project is likely to take and can provide an hour estimate before starting the project. When you engage with a freelancer on an hourly basis, you pay for all the time they put into the project — research, design, exporting files, questions, and revisions.

Other ways graphic designers charge are flat rate by project or ongoing retainers. Flat rate by project is exactly what it sounds like — you and the designer discuss the project, agree on a scope and cost for the project, and move ahead.

Retainers are also great for ongoing client/freelancer relationships, especially when your needs are predictable and repeatable. For example, maybe you need one blog header, five social media graphics, and one email banner each week. A retainer in this example allows you to maintain predictable graphic design costs and assists in a strong ongoing working relationship.

Each graphic designer on FreeeUp sets their own pricing and provides their own estimates, so be clear about what you’re asking them to do, trust the estimates they provide, and ask for advanced notice on any deviation from the original expectations. As you can see, rates vary greatly and open communication is the best way to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Finding the Right Graphic Designer

Rate is just one thing to consider when choosing a freelance graphic designer. Sure, price is important, but each and every freelance graphic designer is an individual artist, and therefore has a unique style. Most are trained to be able to match the style of your brand, but when it comes to a creative field like design, you want to find a good fit.

A lower-rate designer may match your brand’s style really well, while a higher rate artist just doesn’t mesh. That’s why it’s important to look through designers’ portfolios as part of the selection process. Those who are consciously and thoroughly examining portfolios of different designers are the ones who will know what is right.

For example, you may struggle if you hire a more eccentric designer who uses lots of colors and patterns if you’re a conservative brand that uses lower tones and simple design elements.

Graphic design is incredibly important to the memorability and impression of a brand. Humans are all visual creatures primarily, and graphics help us quickly decide our opinion about a company. When you’re onboarding a new designer, make sure to be clear about your brand standards and what you expect from them. That is unless, of course, you’re hiring said designer to create and document your brand standards.

Setting Graphic Design Rate Expectations

Again, each freelance graphic designer sets his or her own rates — hourly, project based, or retainer. But the guidelines documented above can be used as a rule of thumb to help in the important decision of hiring a freelance graphic designer.

Within each category, rates for designers can vary greatly based on location, experience, and they type of design you’re looking for. When you’re hiring a freelance graphic designer, be sure to evaluate their rate, their portfolio, their working style, their understanding of your needs, and whether it feels like the right fit. Rate is just one factor to consider in the process. An important one, yes, but only one.

Conclusion

The guidelines laid out in this post are designed to help you with a confident starting point. The information is by no means fixed and finite, but provide the reliable, necessary data to help you find, evaluate, and hire graphic designers for your business. After all, it’s all about succeeding in your business, and making sure you get the most value out of your investment is of the utmost importance.

If you’re curious about freelancer rates for other services, you can check out our pricing guide. Here you’ll learn approximate rates freelancers in different locations and of different experiences charge for their work.

Once you determine what type of graphic design help you need, create your free FreeeUp account and request a freelancer. Be sure to include information about your project in the request so you can get connected to the right type of designer for your needs — because as you now know, there are a lot of factors to consider.