Designer Secret: Negotiating prices

Designer Secret: Negotiating prices



Dear clients, here’s something you will not hear a lot of designers say out loud; in many of cases you can negotiate quotes given to you by designers. That’s right; if the give price is too high for your business, you can strike a deal with the designer you want to hire. How should you approach the creative in order to lower the price, you ask?

Just ask!

If you cannot afford the price, either because you are a starting freelancer, startup company or passing through a rough patch, just ask. You lose nothing by asking the designer nicely and politely if there is possibility for negotiation. Explain your situation and tell them about your budget. The designer will then let you know if they can help you on not. At Veodesign, we provided a few times reduced quotes for small companies and freelancers who were on a tight budget because they asked nicely and were honest about their situation.

Beware though that if you are full of it and trying to save a buck when in fact your business is doing great, we designers will recognize your greedy nature. It is common practice for most of us designers and entrepreneurs to research the companies we provide quotes for. Be reasonable and don’t attempt to fool us.

What are quotes based on?

In this article I wrote about graphic design pricing, I explained in depth pricing factors. To sum up, most designers will base their quotes on an hourly-rate (based on experience, skill and monetary needs) and estimate the amount of hours needed to complete the work. Obviously there is always a profit margin – that’s the money that will allow the creative to breathe and have some cash left when all the bills are paid. That margin, which is usually kept secret from you dear clients, varies from a designer to another: for the same type of work, I know some creatives that charge literally the double of my hourly rate (good for them).

Designers, like sellers and service providers in different industries, have a break-even point they will not go under. It’s simply not worth it. For instance, if a web designer’s hourly rate is 60$/h and they are asked to provide a quote for a very simple WordPress-based website, they know that briefing, designing, making revisions, programming and integrating the CMS will most likely take at least 20 to 25 hours, setting the break-even point to $1200 to $1500. If they charge that, their margin profit will then be very low (or non-existent). If that web designer charges $2000 for a simple WordPress site and you know their hourly rate to be around 60$/h, negotiating might bring results for you, client.

In many cases, creatives will offer to take away some services or features in order to provide you with a lower price. That is a common and fair practice; more features means more hours of work. Ultimately, the question you should ask yourself if you want a lower price is the following: What are you willing to give up to pay less?

Don’t abuse your designer’s generosity

Designers who lower their price for you are doing a favour. I cannot put enough emphasis on this. They accept for your sake to make less money. I don’t know about you but I don’t know a lot of companies that would accept to give me a lower price on a product or service because of my financial situation. Try it with your electricity bills, with your phone bills or in a clothing store… I guarantee that your chances of getting a lower price are extremely slim.

If your designer accepts to sacrifice their time to help you out, the least you can do as a human being is being nice and respectful to them. If you disagree with this statement and believe a designer’s only purpose in life is to serve your every need, if you believe they should be treated badly, you will find soon enough that rebates will become scarce. Why would a designer do you any favour when you don’t appreciate their work and generosity?

Being polite and understanding will open you many doors, and not only when hiring designers, but also in life in general. People will be more willing to help you and give you occasional freebies. Try it; you won’t be disappointed.

About the author

Tina Mailhot-Roberge is a graphic designer, illustrator and co-founder of Veodesign. She holds a BFA in Design from Concordia University, Montréal. She loves to help people and wirte about arts, design, web and technology. Find her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.