Freelance designer rates?


I was asked to do some design work for an indie brand. I wanted to see how much you all would charge to create 10 looks? I don’t have all the info (of course I’m going to ask for more info), but I figure I should charge for:

  1. Creating a mood board
  2. Creating initial sketches
  3. Revised sketches x ? (Should there be a limit on this)
  4. Final sketches with details so it’s ready for manufacturing.
  5. Also possibly making a tech pack (or a least a few measurements) because it sounds like they want to make a brand but unsure what goes into it. :person_shrugging:

Should I charge hourly or a flat rate? For my pattern making or sewing services I charge per hour, but this seems to have many layers so I’m not sure. Thoughts? Comments?


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You should not charge a flat rate, charge by the hour. Take your current salary or your desired salary (based on yrs in the industry/ your level) and divide by 52 (weeks of the yr) then divide by 40(full time hours) and that should give you an idea. Also make sure to add up the cost of the programs you have to pay for to do your work. Divide it out as above and add the end number to your per hour rate.

I’m not a designer, but I do freelance, so at least I can lend a hand here. I agree with @Mofodie. charging pre project is very difficult to me, particularly when it involves so many pieces. At minimum, I’d go through each task, decide how much time it would take, then double that time for an estimate.

If they insist on paying you per project and not per hour, then just give them this number. I prefer to give them the rough estimate and then keep them updated as I work in case anything is taking me longer than I initially said. I try to work like my mechanic… give them the rough idea, and keep them updated, but don’t make any promises… you just don’t know until you start working.

To make things simple- you can just take your salary (or what you think is fair given your location/experience level/ etc) then divide that by 2 to get an hourly rate - so an $80k salary roughly equates to $40/hr.

Of course, a salaried job gives you lots of perks, like days off, discounts, software, internet, workspace, etc.

I’ve heard some people say- take that rate, in this case, $40/hr, then double it, to get what you actually should be charging. Bc the cost of doing freelance has a lot of costs unrelated to the actual work, like responding to an email related to the gig or doing your own invoicing. If you are billing 20 hours of freelance you might actually be doing 30 hours of work to maintain your computer, etc.

Buuuut, I would counter that with- what are you getting from this job (learning opportunities, connections, resume additions)? And what’s realistic to ask for? It’s not an easy time to try to ask for a lot of $$ from freelance clients, but I think the good clients will pay you fairly, probably not extravagantly.

I like to see that doubled hourly rate as my goal rate. I rarely get my goal rate, but, if it’s a client who is offering me very low $$, I respond with this high number, and usually we can meet somewhere in the middle. It works for me and them, so everyone is happy :slight_smile:

I have, on occasion, taken gigs which pay me a lot less, but offer me a chance to do something or work with someone I know will give me a great learning opportunity or push me into learning a new skill I probably wouldn’t really put the effort into learning on my own.

There’s no right answer here- but I hope this is helpful!

I would also check out Sew Heidi, she has a lot of freelancer videos and classes, if you need a confidence boost or just some basic guidelines on how to set up invoicing etc, she’s definitely a good place to go! Good luck!


Writing a very clear proposal can also be a big help, and cut back in a lot of the back and forth, making deadlines and deliverables (and payment schedules) very clear.

As Design can be very subjective, writing a clear proposal outlining the number of revision rounds can be very helpful. Oftentimes clients- especially at a start up- have no idea what they want, and keep asking for round after round of changes. Getting paid hourly helps combat this, but oftentimes new clients don’t realize that every time they ask for little things (“Can I see this in purple? What about if the straps were wider at the shoulders? What would it look like if we cropped the leg?”) that involves you firing up the computer, re-cadding and making changes, and these multiple revisions can add up quick. I usually like to outline they get 1 or 2 rounds of revisions in the proposal, and they let them know that additional changes are charged hourly. That helps prevent some of the crazy back and forth, and then the client’s “surprise” over their bill.


I would suggest charging by the hour always. Calculate a detailed estimate and chart it all out. It is hard but necessary.

When quoting a freelance rate you should consider pto and insurance. Say for example your full time target salary is 80K per year. At a minimum you would be getting 10 holidays, 5 sick/personal days and 10 days vacation plus health insurance and fica/ui if you were full time. I would add the cost of insurance/fica (an estimate of course) and then divide by 47 instead of 52 to include pto. I would divide by 45 or 50 instead of 40 hours because realistically at that level you would be working at least 45/50 hours. So if target is 80K, then add maybe 20%-25% and divide by 47 and again by 45. 80k*20%=96k/47 wks/45 hrs = 45.39 per hour. You would only reach this goal if you were freelancing 100% of your availability which rarely happens unless you are full time freelance. For projects vs full time freelance, I would add more to that rate up to what the market will bear. Idk what current rates are and budgets range widely company to company. With the current labor demand I would imagine you can ask for more but idk. You always run the risk of aiming too high or too low. Ask around and then aim for a bit higher than the medium. This reply is a bit late but I hope it helps. Good luck!


Always charge by the hour if you are able to. I give an estimate of how many hours each part of the project should take. Get a written contract always, unless you are close friends. PDnD’s estimation of how to determine your hourly rate is spot on. Sew Heidi encourages one to merely drop 3 000’s from your annual salary to determine the hourly rate ($60,000 turns into $60/hour) but in my opinion this leads to an hourly rate that is far too high.