What to Charge for Designs/Sketches

Hi all!

I am considering taking on a project for someone who wants a bag designed with a lot of functions/features (technically an invention). We have already had multiple phone calls and video chats, and I’ve already spent a few hours researching ideas and sending him images of things I like so he can see if our taste level is aligned. On our last chat he asked me what I would consider charging, and in the past I’ve only had a couple freelance gigs where I would sew a physical product and get paid per garment. Since this project is just for design, and not sewing the product myself, I don’t have any experience as to how to charge for designs. He seems open to me charging hourly or a one-time payment for all the work, but I told him I’d need to think about how to go about this. Anyone have experiencing charging for designs/sketches? I’m also fairly certain that once we land on the design, I’m going to need to provide specs and a BOM for the person making the sample. So there’s a couple things to consider here for what I charge him. Any input is much appreciated, thanks!

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Whichever you choose- either hourly or on a per project basis- I’d recommend that you write up a proposal, and send it to him to have him sign, and then have him pay- ideally in 2 or 3 parts- once the project is started, at a review point, and then once the project is completed.

Outline what the scope of the project is, what you will provide (sketches, tech packs, ai files, etc) and due dates for all the points outlines. Also state at what point he can ask for you to make revisions; that way if the project goes on and it becomes one of those “and just more change…” situations, then you know you are being compensated for your time.

If you decide to get paid hourly, you need to provide and estimate of how many hours actually doing the project, from start to finish, will take- and make sure you include any research time you have already done, and will continue to do. That way, he’ll be very clear that the project will be 30-35 hours, at such & such a rate. And if there are any changes that he keeps making, then he’ll know that anything above your original estimate will cost him.

If you do a per project basis, you’ll need to do the same thing-- but be very clear in what the project entails and what will not be included in the original scope of the project (ie: “oh, can you also do a wallet that matches this”).

Doing a proposal takes time, but it will make things very clear as to what the project is, and what you will make from it. If he’s a good guy, he’ll appreciate your professionalism and your good faith of letting him know what you’ll be designing, and your forthrightness about the cost.


thank you for the helpful detailed advice =)