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Resourceful Designer podcast: Offering tips, tricks and advice for starting and growing your graphic or web design business.

Hey there, creative minds!

Today, I want to chat about something that I've seen buzzing in the design community – hourly design rates. Recently, I stumbled upon a discussion in one of the many Facebook design groups. It got me thinking about a common practice, especially among freelancers just starting: charging by the hour.

For the entire extended story, please listen to the accompanying podcast episode.

Let me paint a picture for you. This enthusiastic designer was juggling a full-time gig and dipping their toes into freelance design. They were debating whether $40 per hour was too much. It was almost double their day job's hourly rate, but they worried it might scare off potential clients.

The advice poured in, but what struck me was how everyone seemed fixated on hourly design rates. Some suggested bumping it up to $50 or even $60, while others thought starting a bit lower might be wise. But hardly anyone talked about the pitfalls of this billing model.

If you're already pricing your design projects based on value or as a project or flat fee, kudos to you! You're ahead of the game. Feel free to skip this, but hang tight if you're still billing by the hour. I've got some eye-opening insights for you.

The Hourly Design Rate Hustle

Let's break it down a bit. Picture this: you're at your regular 9-to-5, earning a steady paycheck. Then, you venture into freelance design and charge $50 an hour, more than double your hourly salary from your day job. It seems like a smart move, right? You need only work a fraction of billable hours to earn the same income.

Here's the catch. Not every hour you put in is billable. There are days when you're knee-deep in non-billable tasks like admin work, self-improvement, or catching up on emails. Suddenly, those “billable” hours you thought would match your full-time gig feel like a mirage.

The Efficiency Conundrum

Fast forward a year or two, and you raise your hourly design rate. You're more skilled more efficient, and the work is flowing in. Yet, here's the kicker – you're not making significantly more money. In fact, you might be making the same as when you started.

Why? Because you're getting better. You're becoming a design ninja. And guess what? Efficiency increases with proficiency. It's like levelling up in a video game, but instead of a prize, you get paid less for the same work! You're working faster, so you have fewer billable hours.

The Innovation Factor

Now, let's talk about the game-changer: innovation. Over time, tools get more innovative, workflows get slicker, and tasks that once took ages now happen in a blink.

Remember the days of manually crafting drop shadows in Photoshop? Perhaps it was before your time, but trust me, It was an art form in itself! Now, thanks to innovation, it's as easy as one click. The result? You save heaps of time but lose out on billable hours.

The AI Revolution

Oh, and don't even get me started on AI. It's not about robots stealing our jobs. It's about them making us superheroes! Imagine needing a specific image for a project, but it's taking hours to search, and none of the stock photos fit. With AI, you can create the perfect image in minutes, leaving you with less billable time.

Value-Based Pricing: Your Superpower

So, here's the thing – billing by the hour only holds you back. It doesn't acknowledge your growing skills, it doesn't celebrate innovation, and it doesn't make room for AI-assisted brilliance.

Instead, shift your mindset to value-based pricing. It's a game-changer! You're not just a designer; you're a problem solver, a brand enhancer, a creative force—charge based on the value you bring to the table.

Sure, there might be exceptions, like when working with an agency. But for direct client relationships, value-based pricing is where the magic happens.

Stop Billing by the Hour

So, designers, let's raise our mugs (or styluses) to bidding farewell to hourly design rates. Embrace your worth, celebrate your growth, and allow your creativity to flourish without being tied to the clock. And hey, if you've got thoughts on this, leave a comment below and let's keep the conversation going! Cheers to pricing freedom!

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcription of this episode. This transcript was created with the help of AI and transcription tools. It has not been edited for errors or accuracy.

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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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