Designers: Why Flat Rates Can Raise Your Value

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Plenty of designers have a set pricing strategy when it comes to charging clients for their work. Many prefer to charge an hourly rate, which is specific and ensures that you won’t be undone by scope creep or other issues.

But what if you feel undervalued by your current clients, and hourly fees just aren’t cutting it anymore? Today, we’ll explore the sticky issue of properly valuing and pricing your design work, so that both you and your clients will be totally happy with every exchange.

What Is Valuable?

Value is one of those things that has a different meaning for everyone. Some clients you work with will find your personal design aesthetic quite valuable and worth paying extra for, while others will value your flexibility and problem-solving skills and will pay you more for that.

Ask yourself what you value most about the work you do. This will serve as your guide in determining what type of client to go after.

A Difference Of Values

If the majority of clients you work with are primarily concerned with the functionality of your deliverables and don’t care about your other attributes as a designer, that may be a sign that you’re not hitting on a large enough pain point for them.

People value solutions to problems that really bother them. If you really care about visual aesthetics, for example, but your clients don’t, it’s time to either find new clients, or shift your priorities toward solving the problem that’s really keeping your current clients up at night.

Flat Rates Equal Higher Value

Obviously, there are pros and cons of both flat and hourly rates, and variations within different design industries. However, when you charge a flat fee, it tends to indicate a certain level of trust and confidence on your part, which is attractive to higher quality clients.

When you charge an hourly rate, it can often lead to disputes about times and other annoying “nickel and dime” minutia that can sour a relationship with a client.

Keeping Up With Yourself

An obvious problem more experienced designers still charging hourly rates tend to run into is maintaining the same value for their work as they increase their skill level, and thus their speed. When tasks start to take you significantly less time than they used to, how do you maintain your income? Do you lie and pretend you still require the same number of hours? Or is there a better solution to be had?

You could take on more clients to make up the difference, but that can be stressful and not worth the headache. You could raise your hourly price, but you can only charge so much per hour before you price yourself out of your market. Who’s going to hire a designer who charges $1000 per hour when they can find one who charges a reasonable flat fee?

$20K For A Website?

You may know you can get jobs done faster thanks to your greater experience, but your client doesn’t know that. They’re going to assume that the project will take a certain number of hours, and if they’ve never worked with you before, it’s going to be rather off-putting to see such a huge price tag.

Knowing what your work is worth in a global sense will help you give an accurate and fair quote every time.

Fishing In A Smaller Pool

The problem many designers have when deciding how to charge their clients is that they serve too many different markets. One client might own a small dental practice, and another might be a Fortune 500 company. This type of variety can be crucial to your survival during your first few years of freelancing, but it can wreak havoc on the way you value and price your own work.

Do you charge a small business the same rate you’d charge Coca-Cola or Microsoft? Of course not. It’s important to start specializing in a certain type of client as soon as possible. The more specific you can make your niche, the better.

Focus On Design, Not Money

With flat rates, you have a payment expectation that’s reliable and hassle-free. Flat rate designers prefer to focus on providing the best solution for their clients, trusting that their clients value their work enough not to balk at the sum.

You may have heard the saying: “When you don’t need the money, people are eager to pay you.” Confidently charging a flat rate removes the edge of desperation and fussiness that can sometimes characterize the hourly designer.

When you perceive your work to be worth a certain amount no matter what, clients will translate that as higher value.

Author:

Addison is the author of Food Identities, a blog that explores the crossroads of food, design, and culture. She's written some things, designed other things, and eaten a whole lot of food.

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