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Why do you charge so cheap?

1 March 2008

Articles, Freelancing

Why do you charge so cheap?
Choose your language / Elige tu idioma:englishespañol

I have recieved many comments about this topic, even recieved emails blaming me of degrading the design industry… “your work is great, WHY ARE YOUR SERVICES SO CHEAP?”

But, do i really charge that cheap?

I earn about a 400-500% of the salary of an employed graphic designer in any company of my city, and i also work when, how and in what i want to.

If my services are cheap… what happens with this employees? The design companies get a lot of money, but that’s not disloyal since it’s the client who pays it.

Who says i’m cheap?

Usually rich countries companies, that have a partial vision of the business, they don’t take in to account why i am “so cheap”:

  • When they see the quality and quantity of my portfolio they think that SOSFactory is a studio, but no, i’m freelance, this way i have minimum expenses, and that’s why my hour-price ratio is pretty good.
  • I live in Spain, the life level is lower than in in the USA. So with a smaller salary, i’m really very well paid… but if i lived in the Philipines? I’d be millionaire.
  • They don’t think in the work path. I have a business plan, i started charging 50US$ per logo, 3 years later they were 300-500US$… in 3 years they’ll be 1000US$.
  • Because i do my best in every order, and i know that quality sells by itself, without the need to invest even a cent in publicity.

How much should i charge?
They always refer me to the designers ethic code, the one that tells you what you have to do in every moment… But what happens if i don’t have many clients but i have bills to pay?, Will the code author come to pay them?

Codes are fine, they help to understand the profession… but only you can price your work.

Why i don’t charge more?
No soy buddhist… or fool, i’d love to charge more, if i don’t do it it’s because i don’t have clients that pay that much. I’ve always said it, my work is worth as much as my capacity to sell it.

I think long term, every time i have stable clients that exceed my work capacity, i rise the prices. If like me, you star without any economin resources, you have no option but to work cheap… but always giving the best of you… the good ones rise, the bad ones will always be cheap.

The educator mith?

When you say you’re cheap because you have no clients, the answer is always the same… you have to educate the client, explain the importance of the design, that good designs cost money… that things are obvious for them in any other profession.

And i say… if every time a client offered me a pittance to design i invested 10 minutes explaining all that, i’d luckily work 1 hour a day.

No sir!!!, i’m a designer, not a teacher, the ones that don’t appreciate my work aren’t welcome. Lucky me, i’ve been working hard for various years and i can allow me to do that, but when you’re staring many time you have to do it.

Who degrades this profession?

  • Those companies that subcontract me, they charge 600-800US$ for every character desgin, of which i take 300US$… and thankful, because unfortunately the seller is more important than the product itself.
  • Those “american” companies that the only american thing they have is the name, that subcontract companies in the Philipines, with 40 people in a 40m room to whom they pay a miserable ammount while they get a lot of money.
  • The “fast food” of design, those mega-companies where what matters is quantity and not quality, where there’s no passion for design, and what matters is filling their pockets making garbage.
  • Those websites dedicated to design contests, those websites where designers bid for projects in horrible conditions, where we reduce our prices as much as we can and more to get the job while the site gets the bigger part of the pie.
  • The design “schools”, where what matters is getting the maximum possible ammount of people in a classroom (as long as they pay the fees), to later on give them a “designer” degree and find out that they have been wasting their time and money, since all a designer needs in passion for his work, the rest is on the internet… and free!!!
  • Mediocre designers, the ones that are designers because they have to do something in their lives.
  • The defeated ones, those who dedicate to complain about how bad are our works valued instead of working to find solutions.

But wait!! i’m not blaming these of anything, i simply think that in this business there’s space for everybody… it’s out fault, designers of vocation, if we were brave enough and mount our own business, leaving the mediators behind, we’d all earn more… the client would pay a reasonable price and would get a good product, and the designer would have a dignified and profitable job.


(only if you are passionate and are prepared to give everything of you)

Abandon the mediators as soon as possible, mount your own business, work hard and cheap if you need to… every time you have more work than you can do (during a reasonable time) rise your prices, if you’re good you’ll rise in a short time, and then you’ll start enjoying this profession.

Until then they’ll tell you that you’re cheap, you don’t valorate yourself, that you degrade the profession, but you’ll laugh on the inside… because you know it’s only a matter of time until you get the possition you deserve.

This post was written by:

- who has written 96 posts on SOSFactory Blog.

My name’s Sergio Ordoñez I´m illustrator, graphic and web designer. A selection of my work is included at SOSFactory. If you want to support this blog, please be an active member: tweet the posts, participate in the discussions and the exercises :)

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  • Juvesatriani

    “my work is worth as much as my capacity to sell it” words I ever heard from a talent guy like you..:) GBU

  • Cased

    Your from greece and you speak english and spanish and design the best ive seen in along time. Very impressed and I read your F.A.Q’s and you speak the truth man. Real talk!

    • Sergio Ordonez

      Thanks buddy but I’m Spanish :)

  • Isis Marques

    This post is one of my favorites ever. A realistic and true vision of a raising professional.
    I’m a “school” designer, I’ve been studying since 2008 (and before, 2004, I was gratuated in Education Sciences), but I agree that everyone needs to start and the most important is to have talent and passion to study and grow by yourself!
    I’ll launch my new portfolio in a few days, eventually I’ll need partners, hope someday we can produce things together! =)

    Thanks for all the content you share.


    Hello Mr Sergio, this article is the best I have read in my life, concerning my career as a freelance graphics designer. My area of specialization is logo design and I am from Nigeria. Here, in the local parts actually, people have a problem with valuing abstract things like services. But they still understand its to some extent and are ready pay, but not so much at all. I have learnt from your article that I dont have push them all away and reject their offers. I should rather focus on more works, portfolio, results and clients. Thanks.
    Victor, Nigeria.