I was hoping I would find some people in the industry that could help me decide what's the best price to charge to design (in this case) business cards.

What are standard prices for professional designers?

From a firm point of view? From a freelancer?

I don't want to overcharge clients but I don't want to ruin the industry by underselling my services.

  • 2
    Are you considering including printing, delivery etc in your prices?
    – e100
    Commented Feb 17, 2011 at 19:22
  • 2
    You won't ruin the industry. You'll disappear long before that happens.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 18:22
  • 6
    @Stan is that a threat? O_O It's been a while since the OP has logged in, actually...Uh oh
    – JohnB
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 18:48
  • 1
    @JohnB I meant it as a ;). As I think about it, I compete with talented students and amateurs all the time. Their expenses are a fraction of mine, but, for the most part, they won't last long as individuals as their expenses increase and the challenges of selling your fish increase. Also, everyone has to start somewhere. Usually, it ain't at the top of the heap for top dollar — for long.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 18:55
  • 1
    It would be helpful if you chose a correct answer @CBallenar. That way this question could be used to direct duplicate questions here. Without a correct answer chosen, it can't be redirected to. In addition, DA01 is deserving of the answer mark.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 19:42

7 Answers 7


I assume you are asking how much you should charge to design a business card. The answer to that is:

your hourly rate * the number of hours it takes you to complete the job

The key is to figure out your hourly rate. That is:

annual revenue $ / # BILLABLE hours you work per year

Your annual revenue is all the money you need to bring in to cover all expenses and leave yourself a profit for your salary.

annual revenue $ = 
desired salary + insurance + equipment + software + office supplies + etc

Your billable hours are the hours you can actually bill a client for doing work. This will NOT be 40 a week.

annual billable hours = 
(40 - non billable hours) * (52 - (vacation + sick days))

Non billable hours are all the hours you spend running the business rather than actually doing client work. High end firms hope to get 75-90% billable hours out of their billable staff. On your own, expect that to be closer to 50%, as it takes a lot of hours to just keep the business going (accounting, billing, marketing, travel, tech support, training).

  • Thanks, I was actually thinking of having an standard price per project. like $300 for individuals, $600 for corporations, $800 for a premium design and so on. The final price would be balanced with the amount of estimated hours of course. But it would be used as an starting point.
    – cballenar
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 19:37
  • 5
    Sure...the formula is still the same, though. Figure out your hourly rate * average time for the project = 'standard' project price.
    – DA01
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 20:06
  • 12
    +1 This is a fine formula, and the only realistic recipe. You need to figure out an hourly rate with which you can live. You'll be surprised how much you will need to charge just to make $0 (i.e. to cover all expenses)! ... Multiply the hourly rate with an approximate number of working hours you need - that will give you a price that you need to charge in order to survive. You can still look around what others charge, but this way, you will have something to compare against
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 23:57
  • @CBallenar Also consider different hourly "rates" as you suggest for different types of clients.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 17:03
  • Deep financial plannings.. so deep that I can see Adele rolling. Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 4:11

If you are looking for some answers on pricing, I read a really good article called: "The Dark Art of Pricing" by Jessica Hische if you haven't already seen it take a look it helped me.

A few bullet points:

  • Pricing hourly punishes efficiency.

    Pricing hourly seems much easier than flat rate pricing, but because you have to give clients a ballpark full-cost price upfront (the total hours you plan to work x hourly rate), you can end up in a very tough spot if you don’t have a firm grasp on how long it takes you to do things. You’re nearing the halfway point in the project and are already over the total hours you’re contractually committed to. What does this mean?

  • Licensing and Rights-Management

    Most designers take into account the hours they’ll put into a project when coming up with a price, but the seasoned professionals use it as part of the way they quote a project, and not as the only defining factor. Once you feel comfortable with your hourly rate and can somewhat accurately predict how long it will take you to do something, there are a few other things to consider that will boost your prices and turn this design hobby of yours into an actual sustainable career.

  • Correspondence

    They didn’t give me much to go on here aside from the actual work I’m creating. It sounds like a cool job, but I’m going to need to do some investigating before giving a proper quote. The biggest young designer mistake here would be to quote a flat fee without finding out what kind of usage rights they want.

  • What We Know

  • Pricing for Presentation

  • Sample Usage Scenarios

  • How do you know if you priced right?

  • Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about pricing?

  • The Pricing Domino Effect

  • 6
    This answer could be improved by pulling out a few key points/quotes from the article that is linked.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 21:14
  • How good are you compared to your competition? Especially local competition.

  • Is there a lot of competition in your area?

  • What's the local economy like?

  • Are there a lot of small business?

  • Do the businesses seem to care much about branding, or is it almost entirely word of mouth?

  • How much time do you spend on a given project?

Pricing is probably one of the hardest things to figure out in this field. There is no perfect answer, just different opinions.

That said, a decent measure I'd go by is at least 1.5 - 2x what you would be willing to work for per hour at an hourly job. You'll spend more time looking for new clients, negotiating, briefing, and pitching to clients than you will doing work on the clock.


In addition to the sorta-mathematical ways to determine a price shown above, the soundest piece of wisdom I've heard regarding this is "Don't submit a rate unless you're embarrassed by it"

  • 6
    Horribly ambiguous quote. Embarrassed because it's so low, or embarrassed because it's too high?
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 0:55
  • 5
    I thought it implied that whatever you offer is too good for you - in this case, an offer you think is slightly too high
    – user22723
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:24

If you are charging a flat rate based on the project, as you mentioned earlier, make sure you give a clear description of what that covers. Some clients, as I'm sure you know will ask for many revisions while others will gladly accept what you design for them on the first round.

So setting clear expectations around your 'fixed price' will help avoid awkward conversations later about how they need to pay you for overtime when you never really set hours to begin with.

Try to discuss:

  • Time lines on when you will receive copy or anything you need from the client and when they will receive concepts or the final design
  • How many revisions are included with your price
  • What files will they receive at the end when you are finished.

I encourage you to visit the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA.org, for pricing models, guidelines, competitive strategies, and psychology (the value of aesthetics in dollars). Search for "pricing" from their home page.

Support them.

As an aside: A request for "business card design" is actually a cry for a brand identity program. Establishing a brand identity for your client first makes all the stationery requirements for the enterprise a cakewalk. Work on the program and everything else will begin to fall into place harmoniously, aesthetically, and practically. Your client will recognize your brilliant logic.

Then, as part of the above established brand identity design criteria, I would propose various layouts for promotional materials.

This is more than merely responding to a simple request. It is recognizing what is really needed by a potential client. Separate design from production. Price accordingly.

  • 1
    Do you honestly follow the AIGA pricing? I find it exceptionally unrealistic for anything other than major design firms.
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 20:26
  • @Scott You left out a word. Yes, I honestly follow the AIGA pricing guidelines. I don't fix prices, tho'. Everything depends. There are differences in markets and specialties. AIGA is the first to admit that their information is for guidelines only. I'm a designer. I look for solutions and compromise. Now, If I could only control my "artistic temperament."
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 1:52
  • errr... I didn't leave out a word.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 3:08
  • 2
    @Scott "guidelines" :)
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 3:25
  • 5
    +2 A request for "business card design" is actually a cry for a brand identity program. Establishing a brand identity for your client first makes all the stationery requirements for the enterprise a cakewalk. Work on the program and everything else will begin to fall into place harmoniously, aesthetically, and practically. ...then -1 Your client will recognize your brilliant logic.. Net +1. :-) Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 0:10

If you are designing for less than 25 an hour I probably wouldn't hire you. You bid too low you loose, you bid too high you always win. You either get the job, or they can find someone cheaper. It's important to read the client needs and get as much information as possible before submitting the final bid. Sample information need for a BC would be:

  1. Can I see the logo for the card?
  2. Double sided design?
  3. What is the turnaround for the project?(rush is extra duh!)
  4. How many people in the company are going to need cards?
  5. Have you considered the printing style type?
  6. Do you have a sample for me?
  7. Do you have a local printer?
  8. Have they requested the fies in a particular file type?
  9. After alllllll this, then you ask then for what information they want on each cards. And to send it to you in one e-mail. Not 2 emails, one email.

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