I find it very difficult to charge clients for "extras." In my particular case this is usually consulting and copy writing. Clients expect my input and often leave me with little to nothing to work with so I'm doing basically their sales pitch in addition to their deliverables. Sometimes they call me just to ask my opinion if a particular marketing avenue seems good or forward my contact information to a publishing company to work with them directly.

Us designers largely know that these are different skills but clients don't. They'll send me something like, "I need a flyer for a the 4th of July. Go to our website and include Product XYZ. Going to have Acme Co. print it out on some A4" --- no other information is provided.

For me especially this is problematic because my strength is probably about 80% in my ability to deliver very effective Messages. I could probably charge significantly more for my writing and consulting than I do for my design work. I just don't know how.

Just raising my rates seems very difficult because I don't feel many clients will understand the higher rate is because they're getting more from me than they would from other designers.

So how can I start charging people for that additional value?

Related Questions:

  • 1
    Charge hourly rate... Problem solved. Or add the hourly rate to things that were not included in the flat fee. Have different rates (e.g. coding, marketing, communication, design.) They'll work a bit more if they see you charge for every minute spent on their project. If they do this to you, that's because you're doing something right too and you save them time. There's no shame in doing extra work and being some kind of virtual assistant sometimes if you're paid for it! They actually love designers who aren't just "robots-with-no-initiative!"
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:12
  • 1
    My clients often come with the same requests as yours but I'm paid 100% for it and they actually want to work with me because I just know what's the best for them; I organize them. They don't have time to waste on copying files from a website or finding pictures, they're busy making money with their own business and prefer to pay me for this. That's another niche of clients. If you're good at serving them, be happy, at least they leave you ton of creative freedom :D (but charge per hour though!)
    – go-junta
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:16

5 Answers 5


Quote a price, then itemize on any estimate/invoice.

If a client sends a broad statement like you've posted....

First ask questions even if you know the answers to them:

  • Will you be providing the copy to use or is that something you want me to come up with?
  • Do you have high resolution images you'd like to provide?

Then respond with an itemized list of services and costs. "Okay, that'll be $XXX. Here's the breakout:"

  • Copy writing : $X
  • Editing: $X
  • Photo Retouching: $X
  • Stock Photography: $X
  • Design: $X
  • Total $X

(Be careful not to over itemize.)
You'd include this same break out on final invoices.

Even though they agreed upon the Total cost, asking targeted questions and showing the itemized list allows you room to raise rates based upon specific services. Get your clients used to seeing this break out. It not only assists in informing them about all you are doing for them, but that way later, when you price higher, it is clearly justified. And if they start balking at pricing, you can respond with "If you provide the copy to use, we can eliminate the fees for copy writing (or whatever)."

  • 3
    I've had this backfire on me. Client said "OK, don't edit and subtract $X from the total quote" and I ended up editing his copy anyway (because it really needed it). I suppose I should have said "your copy needs editing. Do you want me to do it for $X?"
    – Voxwoman
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 17:10
  • 13
    @Voxwoman No, because the client has already removed that line item. Hard as it is to resist, if the client says "don't edit the copy," don't edit the copy. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 19:03

Just raising my rates seems very difficult

It's pretty easy. Send out an email to your clients:

As of day X my normal hourly rates for work will be increasing from Y to Z.

You may lose a few clients, but eventually, you'll gain new ones that appreciate the work they're getting for the price.

One reason clients start asking you for all the extras is likely because you're inexpensive.

  • 4
    "One reason clients start asking you for all the extras is likely because you're inexpensive." - too true Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 14:30
  • 2
    I've always wondered about this. It seems to be in human nature to misuse cheap resources. If you begin with 2 guys with a identical workload and identical skills, but one is cheap and the other expensive. Then magically the cheap one has to be worse and gets dumped with all those extra stuff that will eventually lead them to slide in job quality. And in no time the cheapness has been validated by human actions. Learn to say NO, this grows your value more than being nice. Dont do those extra tasks...
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:34

Clients expect my input and often leave me with little to nothing to work with so I'm doing basically their sales pitch in addition to their deliverables.

This is your problem. Define in your scope of work what exactly you will provide and what exactly the client will provide. If the client is supposed to provide copy, spell out "Client will email a file with the copy for the flyer." Do not accept "Go get it off our website."

If the client is saying "Going to have Acme Co. print it out on some A4," create a Preflight Checklist and make them fill it out, or fill it out on the phone with them.

You have allowed your clients to train you to do their work. Push back.

  • 2
    "You have allowed your clients to train you to do their work. Push back." Too true, also accept that sine clients are worth losing.
    – user19660
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 20:56

It's not difficult to raise your rates if you can validate them. In your design brief or quote you should bill a few additional hours if you know you're spending time to develop content. I would look at your year-to-date projects and see if you can ball park the time spent wether it be in design, development, customer one-on-one. You should never cheat yourself or your hard time.

I believe it has also been discussed this is why some prefer to price and do jobs based on the particular project instead of hourly rates. Also, this helps when bidding by project. Normally when I bid on a project I give a project price based on what I see and I almost double that and I inform the client this is if there are issues with content, files, time not discussed, etc. etc. Same could be applied to hourly as in it could take you between four to nine hours depending on content. If I were you I would review your time spent and when you inform the client or price to a client you can this is for this. Either way you shouldn't be working for free, wether you add it to your design or on the brief bill it as something entirely different get paid for it.


Well... the Universe has a way of giving us things we didn't expect to receive which seems to be the case here. No matter HOW MUCH you stress the fact that you do designs, people for some reason naturally trust and seek you out for other things, DON'T BRUSH THAT AWAY!!! Investigate it more and add those services to your Business. I encountered the same exact thing with Business Development. You may want to shift from "Graphic Design" to "Corporate Identity" all together where you get paid to map all these things out for them.... THEN do the design work and get paid for that as well. Study more into that, I guarantee you're already pretty much doing that anyways without knowing it... Just GROW with the flow :)

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