These were the words spread across the message board to alert the members of the metal music forum of a need for a designer. Someone, somewhere, needed a logo for their band. In return, they showed they were willing to pay someone to do it for the sum total of $20.
Some people joked around, and some basically said that he was nuts for offering so little.
Me? I was polite but blunt. “No offense, but $20 for a logo? Bump it up to $100, you’ll get more bites and a better logo. Anyway, my 2 cents on that and if you can bump it that high, give me a call.”
Fair enough if you ask me. Just some advice from someone who does it professionally. Well, the peanut gallery just loves to chime in, and this was a fun bit of retort! Someone decided to point out that “Dude, in this Effing economy work for whatever. It’s just art. Get over yourself and make a quick $20.”He ended it with this little pearl of wisdom: “Don’t try to price your stuff as a BMW when it’s a used car economy.”
So I made a rather blunt point about how it cheapens the work and the field, but if someone was desperate enough for it, more power to them!
But the last point they made stuck with me. Pricing yourself as “high-end” in a tough market… that’s a damn good point! In this case, it was total bull (since $100 for a logo tends to be less-BMW and more, say, used Honda), but it was still valid.
In this modern market, we’ve seen logos go from $10,000 corporate identities to $120 symbols for a small store. In a lot of ways, its always been like that, but today there are even websites that will give a small web start-up a logo for free based on generic text and clip-art. All the while, graphic designers around the world get angry and mad at this practice and how it “cheapens” what we do.
Does offering something for free cheapen something that normally would cost anywhere between $250 – $1000 to do? Well, yeah, it does. It takes it away from being a skill and turns it more into a commodity in the sense that its almost worthless. Yes, The Sistine Chapel was a commission, but he got paid well to make it. That’s basically the entire point I’m trying to make.
So, as designers, what should we do? If you are at a BMW-level of quality and demand, do you keep your prices or do you lower them to stay competitive? Well, its up to you, really. If you find keeping a fairly decent price tends to attract a better type of client or you’re able to keep it up, then stay there. If its getting to the point where your prices are just too much for people, even those who have been faithful and love your work… well, now is the time to start lowering your price.
What is the main key in this? What is the secret formula? It’s simple: Never got lower than 20% what you would charge for the job.
You get a client who wants a logo for their web start-up. The logo they described to you would cost them $1000, all rights included. They can’t afford it and want to go lower. If you can, you go down a little based on what you think works. If they want it for less than $800, think about if the logo will add to your portfolio, if this possible client will result in more connections that will, in turn, equal more work, or if this is just something that’s going to sit there… or pay a bill.
Most designers already know this, so this article is more for the people… well, like me.
Say you’re semi-well known. People have seen your stuff, they like it, and they want to hire you. The problem, though, is that they can’t pay you much, if at all. Here’s a good example: There’s an artist named Christophe Szpajdel who has done over 7200 logos in his nearly 20 years as an artist. His rate? Anywhere between $50 to as much as he thinks. In return, he’s garnered a reputation as a workhorse and the man in the field of death and black metal logos. It pays the bills.
In the end, working with people to get a price you’re happy with, as well as one the client is happy with, means more work and exposure for yourself. Does that mean sometimes lowering yourself to make yourself about as affordable in a used-car market when you’re a BMW yourself? Sometimes. Then again, if you’re already a semi-used Volvo, you don’t have far to go.