Like many freelancers, when I decided to go full time freelance back in March of 2007, I was unsure what to charge. After polling my freelance friends and other designers and doing a little googling, I discovered the amazing rates calculator on Freelance Switch and personally determined that I should charge $35 an hour, based on the costs in my area and my desired standard of living.

About six months later I was accepting a couple of new jobs a week and felt busier than a kid with attention deficit on Ritulin and energy drinks, so I decided to raise my rate to $45 an hour to (hopefully) slow things down a little bit.

Anyway, all of this preamble is just to say that choosing your rate is a personal thing, so there is no right or wrong rate, but you should consider a few things when coming up with one that is right for you.

A Few Things to Consider

Here are a few things to consider when choosing to set your freelance rate.

Your rate should be higher than what your friend is being paid per hour at a local agency.

Why? Because you need to cover your costs. Consider in your rate things such as rent, telephones, internet, and other costs that agencies calculate over and above the wage they pay their designers.

Collis Ta'eed, founder of Freelance Switch and (I think) designer of the Freelance Rates Calculator put it this way:

"The best thing to do is sum up all your costs and divide by the number of hours you think you can bill a year." - Collis Ta'eed

I mostly agree with this, but take into consideration that if you live in an area with relatively low living costs, you may price yourself too low and get more work than you can handle, like I did.

Your rate should fit with your moral values.

What I mean is, if you feel like you're gouging your clients, you'll come off as apologetic and unprofessional in your communications. Choose a rate that you believe is fair based on your costs and desired standard of living.

Your rate should in most cases be relative to the industry you work in.

For example, in a study performed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2007, the average income for a graphic designer by industry was:

  • Specialized design services: $48,790
  • Newspaper, book, and other publishing: $39,390
  • Advertising: $46,990
  • Printing: $38,880

Also, here's a breakdown from Simply Hired, who allowed me to generate a nice graph on their web site today:

Average Web Designer Incomes

Basically, these figures indicate that as graphic designers and web professionals, our rates can vary anywhere from $45,000 to $75,000 per year, so ideally you'll want to choose something that fits into this range.

Related Information on This Topic

Here are some links to other useful articles and tools.

In Closing

What to charge is ultimately a personal decision, but you can make it easier on yourself by considering some of the factors I've mentioned above. If this article has helped you or if you disagree, please comment below. Also, I'd appreciate if you would digg or stumble it, as that will help to share it with others.