I have an entire page about that, but the short answer is around $115/hour. If you think that’s a crazy amount and that I wear diamond-bedazzled Chuck Taylors, I can assure you that is not the case, and you should read about where that number comes from and what it covers.
Long answer: How I decide to bill a project (ie. fixed fees vs. an hourly rate) depends a lot on who the client is and what the specific details of the project are. For all of my ongoing clients I bill at an hourly rate (I have a few clients with a lot of stakeholders so sometimes we can end up at a dozen rounds of revisions—it’s good to be billing hourly in these circumstances). For new clients and for certain types of projects, I might switch to a fixed fee, but I like to find out more about the project first.
For example, you might be thinking “Well what does a four panel double-sided roll fold brochure generally cost?” Again, this depends on you and your content, and how many rounds of revisions we anticipate, so before I come up with an estimate, I like to get a sense of the project.
I can tell you a few base costs though:
It’s difficult to do even a basic website for less than $2,000
Wordmark logos (for a small business or small non-profit) will start at $700 and go up depending on level of customization, number of initial concepts, etc.
Logos with icons (for a small business or small non-profit) will start at $1,200 and go up depending on complexity, number of initial concepts, etc.
Logos for large companies cost more and will likely be a fixed fee project (logos for large, established companies have more intrinsic value so designers don’t tend to bill hourly for those—cost of the logo is based on its anticipated exposure and value to the company).
Process can vary quite a bit depending on the client and the type of project, but here are some general touchpoints:
Estimate—If you email me as a prospective new client, I’ll take the details that you provide about the work you want done, and write up an estimate for you. This estimate might be formal and on letterhead with a full breakdown, or it might just be a summary in the body of an email—again this depends a lot on the client and the project.
Contract—Once you agree to the estimate and want to engage me to do the work, I’ll send you a contract to sign and a deposit invoice (generally for 50% of the estimated cost). If the contract is for multiple ongoing projects, it’ll be a general contract with general language (and an accompanying Scope of Work document to hash out the agreed upon details of a particular project). If the contract is for a single one-off project, then the contract language will be geared to that project’s details (and this means if we decide to embark on other work after the project completes, then we’ll need a new contract—this is why I tend to err on the side of a general contract from the start, as it will cover all projects we embark upon). Once I receive the signed contract and deposit, we’ve got an active project going.
Timeline—We’ll establish either a loose or a strict timeline (depending on your needs or my availability)—with key deliverable dates for larger projects (1st draft, revision cycle, final product delivery). For small projects lacking strict deadlines, we can be a bit looser with this—it eats away at the budget if I spend too much time creating workback schedules. A larger project can afford this time but a smaller project should have less admin.
Design work—The exact details of this part of the process can vary greatly with the type of project, but generally I’ll prepare a first draft of the design (either in part if it’s a large project, or in whole if it’s a smaller project), you’ll give feedback on the general look and feel, and any edits to the content, and I’ll prepare subsequent drafts until we arrive at an approved, completed piece.
Payment & delivery—Once again, this can vary with project, but generally speaking once we’ve got a signed off completed piece, I submit to you a final invoice and you receive all of your production-ready files upon payment of that invoice. The order this happens in tends to be more relaxed for my longstanding established clients. For those clients I usually deliver the project as soon as it’s completed, and submit monthly invoices for ongoing work.
Long answer: I probably don’t want to get into tweaking elements of a logo—it’s basically stepping on another designer’s work and I highly recommend that you either get that designer to make the change, or consider allowing me to give you a proper logo redesign or even just refresh. A logo refresh is when we take the spirit of your logo, or elements of your logo, and reinvigorate or modernize them. This way we can ensure harmony across your logo rather than something designed piecemeal by several different people. If you’ve ever seen an old house with multiple incongruent additions, you know what I’m talking about.
The cost of a logo depends on many things. How many concepts would you like to see? How much illustration is involved? How customized is the type? How many rounds of edits will it take to get us there? And finally—and this is crucial—what is the intrinsic value of the logo? The value of a logo/brand varies drastically depending on what that brand is. Nike, Apple, Google, Adidas—these are brands that have very recognizable logos, so their value is very high (as in millions of dollars). A non-profit, small startup, or a sole proprietorship doesn’t have or need that kind of brand recognition, so the value of the logo is considerably less. This is why logos for larger companies will generally be fixed fee, while a logo for a small startup might be billed hourly.
As a very rough guide, the startup/non-profit logos I’ve designed have come in anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000.
Just like with logos, the cost of a website can vary greatly. But again, I can tell you that it’s usually very difficult to build a website for less than $2,000. That’s generally the starting price for selecting and buying a theme, getting WordPress installed and set up, skinning and styling the theme to your brand, plugging in content for 2-3 pages, and launching. Even the most basic websites take some time to set up and customize.
If even $2,000 seems like too much too spend, I recommend that you set up your own website using a service like Squarespace. You don’t get a ton of customization options, but they have professionally designed templates and you pay a small monthly fee for the hosting and access to their premium templates.
First off, let me say I’m not a programmer. This means that the websites I build are created in WordPress, fully themed and skinned to your brand, and updatable by you. I can do minor coding as it relates to styling, but not functionality. If you’re just looking a website to show off who you are, that doesn’t have any sort of complex custom functionality programmed into it, then I can do that no problem (this website is a good example of the type of website I can create for you).
There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want, as long as you’re flexible and open to suggestions.
As a consultant you’re not only hiring me to do the work, but to also provide recommendations based on my experience and expertise. It’s great to have a solid vision for what you’d like, but time and time again I have clients come to me knowing exactly what they want (in theory), and then not liking it at all in practice. If you’re open to exploring directions that might differ from your original intent, you might be surprised at where we can end up.
For example: whenever I embark on a logo project where my client has very prescriptive directions on what they want, I always make sure to present them with what they’ve asked for, as well as a second or third option that’s nothing like what they asked for. And guess what—most of the time they don’t end up selecting the one they asked for. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and not realize all of the different ways to explore an idea—and it’s my job to show you things you might not have considered.
So I can certainly try to bring to life the idea that you have in your head, if you’re open to exploring alternatives as well. We might end up somewhere completely unexpected and equally valid!
I’m often surprised by how many emails I get from new designers or design students seeking advice or wanting to interview me for a class. In an effort to keep from repeating myself again and again, I’ve written a blog article with a bunch of miscellaneous advice that you can absolutely choose to ignore. I’m just winging it like pretty much everyone else. The things that work for me won’t necessarily work for you, but if it helps, I’m happy to pass along what I’ve learned.
I get a lot of really positive responses to the way I present myself on this site, and most people appreciate the level of detail and frankness about who I am, how I see myself as a consultant, and how I view client relationships. But very occasionally, someone (usually another designer) will email me just to tell me that they think it’s very presumptuous of me to lay out boundaries the way I do.
One of the main benefits of working as an independent consultant is that you are master of your own destiny. If I’m miserable with a project or client, I have the ability to change that. I also have the ability to turn down any project or client that gives me a bad feeling (and guess what—my gut has never been wrong when it came to taking on clients or projects that had even the tiniest of red flags at the outset).
My frankness and level of detail on this site is for both of us—I want you to know who you’re partnering up with, and I only want to attract people who are like-minded. Hopefully I’ve given you enough information to decide that.
And if you’ve read through all of this and decided that you hate my guts, that’s totally fine! You really don’t need to contact me to tell me that!
Justafrog is the home of Leigh Peterson, a freelance graphic designer located in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada.
Copyright 2023 Leigh Peterson. All rights reserved. All portfolio content is displayed for promotional purposes only and is the property of the relevant client.