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I was asked to write and design a 2-page flyer (A4 size) for an industrial product. I would like to charge AED 1000 for this job.

I was also requested to find a printer and get the flyer printed (1000 copies to be printed in 4 colors); I find that the print quotation is just above one third the price I want to charge for my services - AED 380.

Is such a big difference OK?

  • 1
    This question is certainly on-topic per meta conversations: graphicdesign.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2718/… – Ryan Apr 18 '18 at 12:58
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    Why would print cost govern the price? I mean you are wirting and designing. That is at least a magnitude more important than printing. – joojaa Apr 18 '18 at 13:58
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    Consider a scenario where two clients request very similar designs, requiring the same work (and your AED 1000 is standard for both of them.) One client wants you to print one of these fliers. The other client wants you to print 1,000,000 of these fliers. Do you feel that should change how much the design is? – corsiKa Apr 18 '18 at 17:16
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    There is a very old joke, the punchline of which is "Hitting it with a hammer: $5. Knowing where and how hard to hit: $995." There is also a story about Seymour Cray and an early failing CDC 6600 (the machine that made his reputation. He was called in to consult. They described the symptoms. He went into the machine room, sat down, and THOUGHT for two hours. He then opened one bay, disconnected one cable, cut a few inches off of it, and reconnected it. The machine never gave any more trouble. No record exists of the bill for his service call. – John R. Strohm Apr 18 '18 at 20:48
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Print costs have nothing to do with the design costs. These are two separate things.

A design could be simple taking an hour or less, or it could be complex and take many hours of work, but the cost of printing it would be the same regardless, assuming the same printing spec such as number of colours and ink coverage.

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    Well, nearly the same; one design might use more ink or require special colors or whatever, increasing the printing cost—but that could just as easily be the simpler and cheaper one to actually design. Might be better to just say that the two costs have little to do with one another. – KRyan Apr 18 '18 at 19:07
  • @KRyan I have edited the answer to make it clear that I assume the same printing spec, number of colours, and ink coverage, – Billy Kerr Apr 19 '18 at 9:06
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In a capitalistic world... you are free to charge whatever you want to charge. It makes no difference if you charge 100%, 200%, 500%, or 1000% more than any printing costs.

The only thing which matters is... what will clients be willing to pay.

That being posted, I would always charge a markup on any carried costs. If printing costs X, then I would charge X+(X*0.2) for printing (20% markup) as a minimum for printing.

It can also be wise to require printing costs be paid in advance, especially for large printing bills. The last thing you want is a client sticking you with a printing invoice for a lot of money.

Design fees would be above and beyond any printing fees.

So, for example...

If printing costs $500 + $50 for shipping
You intend to charge $600 for design
The total project cost is $1,260, landed
-----------------------------------
(550 + (550*.2)) + 600 = 1260
-----------------------------------
And a $660 (non-refundable) deposit is required before printing is done (if not sooner).

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    Rather than X+(X*0.2) you could just write X*1.2... – curiousdannii Apr 18 '18 at 23:12
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    6 of one....... – Scott Apr 18 '18 at 23:23
  • @Scott the suggestion is much clearer, especially as it doesn’t have the redundant brackets – Tim Apr 19 '18 at 0:58
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    ...... half dozen of the other ..... I could make it (X + (X+20%)) as well... or (X+120%)... how it's written is fairly irrelevant. Because it may be clearer to you that does not mean one way of writing is clearer to everyone. Dealing with artists it's not often a bad idea to be more explicit with math.. X*0.2 makes it abundantly clear how to get the 20%. While X*1.2 may be more concise... it's not as explanatory. I specifically chose to write the equation the way I did for a reason. – Scott Apr 19 '18 at 1:13
  • 'X*1.2' is fairly self-explanatory; it means 120% of X. I'd argue getting rid of the (redundant) parentheses and the second occurence of X does make it clearer to everyone, but clearer still, especially if you want to avoid being math-heavy: "For printing, I charge 120% of the costs at minimum." – Marcks Thomas Apr 19 '18 at 10:14
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You need to charge what you need to charge for your design services.

If the client is also asking you to manage the printing of the project, you need to charge for your services managing the printing of the project.

This, BTW, is extremely common practice. How you charge is up to you. You could just charge a flat hourly fee for your time spent coordinating printing, or you could charge a standard markup to cover your end of the printing.

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Converting your amounts to dollars, you are charging 270$ for the design and copy of the flyer, which sounds decent for such an item. Then there's another 100$ to print 1000 copies of this flyer, which again sounds about right.

Then, printing fees are in no direct relation to design fees, so comparing the 270$ for creative work (a quality service where you use your time and mind to deliver) with the 100$ for production (a quantity service where a machine replicates on paper) makes little sense. If they wanted 2700 flyers then both costs would be 270$.

So, to give a broad answer, YES it is OK ! :)

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EDIT: In my opinion: don't feel guilty. Reason: you are getting to keep less money than you are spending on the printouts, due to taxes.


Just a reminder to take taxes into account.

I know you're not in the US, or NM, but I figure you'll have similar tax structures to give you headaches.

I am assuming any sales tax and shipping costs are included in the 380 for printing.

So, 1000 gross income, 380 for expenses, thus 620 net income...

  • 70 goes to NM gross receipts tax of 7% of gross
  • 93 goes to self-employment taxes (payroll+medicare+social security if not self-employed) of 15% of net
  • 62 goes to federal income taxes, assuming around 10% of net (usually 15%, but deductions result in effectively 10%)
  • 21 goes to NM state income taxes, basically a third of what federal got

So, that is 70+93+62+21 = 246 going to taxes...

  • 1000 gross
  • 620 net (after 380 expense)
  • 374 in-pocket (after 246 taxes)
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    I don't see how this answers the question. – WELZ Apr 18 '18 at 18:09
  • What’s an “NM”? – Cai Apr 18 '18 at 18:47
  • @Cai New Mexico (They are just providing a local example) – WELZ Apr 18 '18 at 19:21
  • @WELZ the "answer" is that after taxes they are making less money than they are spending on the printing. So "no, don't feel guilty" – Ghost8472 Apr 19 '18 at 22:25
  • @Ghost8472 you didn't say that. I suggest writing that, and only then elaborating. – WELZ Apr 20 '18 at 0:10

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