I am looking to start my own freelance business in Wales, and just researching pricing. Particularly that of Identity projects. In previous employment, I was never privy to the pricing of jobs, at printers who never did any print jobs for freelancers or at studios where print was handled and again not privy to pricing. Just looking for some advice. Thank you.

  • "When deciding upon pricing an identity project should the price include print costs?" NEVER
    – Rafael
    Dec 11, 2023 at 15:48
  • Thank you Rafael. This was my guess as well but I was just a little unsure. I Possibly didn't word the question that well.
    – Tom
    Dec 11, 2023 at 16:05
  • Let me post later a detailed answer. The comment was a bit impulsive :)
    – Rafael
    Dec 11, 2023 at 16:27
  • ....depends upon your business model... Some prefer to subcontract print services, in which case you would include (and mark up) printing costs. Others prefer not to subcontract print services, in which case you would not include any pricing for printing.
    – Scott
    Dec 11, 2023 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


An initial note. I realized later that the question is more specific for identity projects. Aka branding manual. My answer addresses that but also mixes it with other printed projects.

I have worked with large printing companies with big corporate clients.

Sometimes they offer "the design" of the product for free. It is not free of course but they are paying a designer internally and the overall profit pays the salary. These "designs" are something like the layout of a page, reports, etc.

In this case, they simply do not want this minutiae to be part of the invoice or something like that, because the project is big enough.

But when the design is more specialized, and more is expected, like a branding design, or an ad campaign, of course, the value of the design is sometimes more important than the initial printed material.

But even if this is the case, you can not compromise a printed product for free for several reasons. Not in a particular order:

  • You are devaluating the printed product.
  • The client might be confused, not only on the real value of both, the design and the printed product, but potentially "demand" the same free product later on.
  • You need to be prepared for any potential problem with the printed product. It probably needs to be reprinted by a mistake on the data or something like that. Regardless of who is responsible.

I understand you could use this as a gimmick for sales.

But what you should include is the printed material to be presented during the design process. Mockups, dummies, etc.

Only if you have real control over small projects, some digital prints for example, yes you can include some initial prints, and clarify the cost of subsequent prints.

This can also be the case for a printed cooperative manual. You can offer 2-3 copies as the initial package and additional cost for additional prints.

This means that you have control and experience of how many pages your manuals have. You have the sections and the extension of each section defined.

Some clients may perceive that if you are offering something free included in the initial price, you are inflating your prices, so thinking of some kind of abuse. After all, yo can afford to give "free gifts". So It could not be the best strategy.

Of course, you could offer a free print in a particular case, but I would say you should avoid doing that.

There can be a case where you offer the print product outsourcing it.

In that case, of course, you should consider two additional costs for the client, that probably are not disclosed, but considered internally.

A. A supervision fee. You should not blindly trust your provider. You need to supervise every step. Printed samples, plotter for the sheets, color tests, etc. And make the client sign them. This can be a fixed amount depending on the design. Flayers vs a magazine for example.

B. A profit for the buy-sell transaction. This can be a percentage of the printed project. It is not the same as the net cost of 1000 flyers rather than 5000 magazines. But this means you are liable for any problem during the print. So be careful with this model.

C. You could also ask for a sales commission from the print provider. This way the print company is responsible for the product. The risk is that in the future you could be expendable for future projects. But if you have a good relationship with this provider, it can be a long-term relation with them for the projects you send.

There can be some other business models of course.

  • Thank you Scott and Rafael for taking the time to answer my question and I apologize for the late reply.
    – Tom
    Dec 18, 2023 at 16:19
  • All this ties in with what I was thinking which is great, as it shows I'm on the right track. Thanks guys !
    – Tom
    Dec 18, 2023 at 16:21

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