Graphic Design Costs and Pricing Guide

It’s painful to keep having to search for quotes on graphic design services

On one hand, you may be comfortable coming up with the money, but on the flipside, you are sceptical over what you are getting. That’s because it’s hard to tell if the quoted prices have been jacked up or not for personal reasons rather than quality work.

That said, if the designers you’ve found are able to furnish you with more details on what you are paying for, all the more you may trust them to work with you. 

However, most times this is not the case because many designers wish to know the scope of the project they will be working on before committing to it.

Hence, I’ve created this graphic design costs and pricing guide for your reference.

Factors to help you plan your design budget

Determining your design budget is probably the most pressing question you have. Let’s get into some more detail and help you understand how to budget for your design needs.

Paying for graphic design services depends on a wide range of factors, including speed, depth, tastes, scope, research and volume.

Our average customer comes to us for the following reasons:

  1. To improve the look of their material to show something presentable
  2. Creative work isn’t their thing, saves their time getting someone else to work on it
  3. Not so much of design or the concept, but they find it easy to communicate with us

Scope:

Web design – graphics and static work on the website without building, development or coding involved

How Do I Plan My Graphic Design Budget?

Know what you want

The fundamentals of working with a graphic designer are the same as working with other service providers such as copywriters, coaches and consultants.

You have to be clear with what you are looking for. Not so much with how your designs will look, since that should be developed when working with your designer. 

Before looking for a designer, you should first be strategic with your plans and company direction. This will save you lots of time, money and headaches down the road.

Here are some questions to help you crystallize your thoughts and plans quickly:

  1. What are your business goals?
  2. Why do you need to engage a graphic designer’s help? 
  3. Could you do it yourself or just go with what you have?
  4. How do you think a designer can help you reach your goals?
  5. What are the objectives of having created the design? Get more leads? Increase sales? Brand awareness? 
  6. Do you foresee yourself asking for a designer to help you on a regular basis or just one-time?

Plan your project

Cost or pricing of any graphic design work will depend on at least one of these.

Content

Content is king and graphic design is the cream to top it off and bring your content to a whole new level. Graphic design is important but not the first thing you should start work on.

Before you decide what kind of graphic designer, your budget and the design concepts and ideas suitable for your project, you need to first be ready with your text, copy, and any information you want to publish.

If you need professional help to add graphics or create a design for you, you must first be ready with some context of what you’d like to create. For example, if you’d like to create a lead magnet or an eBook to help people with personal finances, you must first put down in words what you’d like your audience to read or consume.

The volume of your text will allow graphic designers to determine the amount of work required to spruce it up.

Service

What are you looking for exactly in a graphic designer?

The average customer we work with expects our designers to not just be professionals and skilful people who turn something boring to something engaging and creative. 

He or she also expect our designers to be detailed-oriented with the content. Our customers expect to spend less time and effort checking an artwork repeatedly. A graphic designer who can provide such service is a value-add to the customer.

Hence, we have two layers of quality-checks baked in our process when it comes to the service we provide. We don’t just make sure the design is above the average in terms of attractiveness to the general audience, we also make sure details and requirements have been adhered to.

Quality

This refers to the design of the deliverable itself.

Are you looking for the end result better than what you can do, or so long the quality of the deliverable is within the industry’s standards?

This affects the pricing a lot because this is highly dependent on the designer’s talents.

If this is something you value highly, it’s worthwhile to fork out more for a person who has such aptitude or someone who has been trained in this area to produce something better than you can.

If you are looking for someone to just take over your design work so as to relieve your time working on it, whether or not the eventual work will have the same level of quality as what you can do, you may wish to look for the lowest cost possible to get this job done.

Research

Just like starting and growing a business, design work is not complete without some research. 

If you would like to do this yourself and only leave the creative and technical process to your designer, let the designer know and you may just be able to relieve yourself some of the research costs.

Our average customer knows we don’t do in-depth research for them to be able to offer an affordable service. That said, our designers know enough to proactively do brief research in the event the information provided is not sufficient. 

In this way, our customers don’t have to hand-hold our designers and can set and forget the design tasks to go about their more important work before the artwork is completed and delivered.

Anything that needs deep research will involve more time, effort and expertise to translate that to the creative work. Hence, if you do see quotes that are higher than what you see in the market, it could be due to this.

Speed

How soon do you need your artwork?

If you need an award-winning design within the next few days, be prepared to fork out more than the average cost of hiring a designer.

That’s because, chances are, not many average designers are willing to drop all their projects to accept yours. The risk of expecting them to deliver an award-winning design in such a short time is too high.

This leads them to quote you a sky-high price that can offset the risk involved.

At the same time, if you want such a quality of work at such a short time, chances are you’ll need the help of an extremely experienced designer with the best expertise you can find.

All the more you can expect to pay more than average for such a service.

If you want it fast and do not expect it to be award-winning, that can help relieve your budget much more. 

Usually, the sooner you want something, you may expect to see some details left out, research not being that extensive and less thought being put into creating the design work.

Faster delivery may not mean the same quality of work done if delivered later. Hence, if you wish to have the exact same quality of work done regardless of speed, more has to be paid for faster delivery.

Scope

This refers to your overall requirement of a project.

Are you looking for a professional designer to turn a piece of document to something prettier than the original document, or someone who can audit your brand strategy at the same time?

Are you looking for a designer to create something one time and you consider that done, or do you need someone to be on standby for days, weeks and maybe months to make changes to it as and when you need?

Do you foresee yourself requiring your designer to deliver an artwork to you within the next hour or he or she may take more time than that?

These will eventually add up and you have to factor these in as costs to exchange with your designer for their work delivered.

So how much do different kinds of designers charge?

Here’s a list of the kinds of designers and typical price ranges in Singapore (varies by countries):

In general, besides your project requirements, there are many other factors that affect the pricing.

Freelance Graphic Designers (SG$15 to SG$150 or US$10 to US$107 per hour)

Freelance graphic designers are free to work with any clients they choose to work with. 

They may be working on one or multiple client work in one day. If they are handling multiple client work on their own without outsourcing any work, they will have to split the day up to work on each client work for a couple of hours.

Most freelance graphic designers are the ones working on the design work themselves, hence, they don’t have to charge much higher than those who outsource the work to others.

Here are some factors that will determine your cost of hiring freelance graphic designers:

  1. Their experience level
  2. Where they are located will determine their standard of living, hence your costs
  3. The amount of work they have on their plate
  4. The number of clients they are working with at each point in time
  5. The average income they are comfortable with
  6. Their work process
  7. Whether they have a team or work solo
  8. Their objectives of being a freelancer, on both personal and professional levels
  9. Requirement complexity and scope
  10. Depends on how they charge (per hour, per project or retainer)
  11. Turnaround time

Virtual Assistant (VA) Graphic Designers (SG$15 to SG$50 or US$10 to US$107 per hour)

If you need someone to assist you in administrative, repetitive and project management, you may wish to hire a virtual assistant.

If at the same time you find that you need graphic designers, you may find that some of these virtual assistants you come across have simple graphic design skills as well.

They may or may not have professional graphic design experience with clients, but if they are confident enough to pull off the designs you need, it works to outsource or delegate such work to them.

Here are some factors that will determine your cost of hiring virtual assistant graphic designers:

  1. Their experience level
  2. The variety of skill sets
  3. How much graphic work you need per day, week or month
  4. Number of hours worked
  5. Where they are located will determine their standard of living, hence your costs

Graphic Design Agencies (SG$1000 to SG$30000 or US$700 to US$15,000 per project)

Typically, graphic design agencies do more than just helping you do the technical work of putting colours, text and images together.

What you are paying for involves working with you to identify your business goals and objectives, strategies and execute them in the form of advertisements, branding and marketing campaigns.

The scope of work requires more people, and hence a team of experts to come together to help you churn out designs that align with your brand direction. 

If you want a team to help cover a larger scope around your design needs with highly-customized solutions, going for graphic design agencies will help.

Here are some factors that will determine your cost of working with graphic design agencies:

  1. Size of their teams
  2. Experience levels
  3. Their accolades and past achievements
  4. Size of the your (client) company
  5. Expertise of designer
  6. Requirement complexity and scope
  7. Cost of materials
  8. Time taken to complete
  9. The value you are after
  10. Rental costs of the agencies
  11. Agencies with remote teams will most likely charge you less than those with on-site teams

In-House Graphic Designers (SG$1200 to SG$6000 or US$870 to US$4300 per month)

If you were to hire in-house graphic designers, you are employing them to work on your requirements most of the day. 

Unlike freelance graphic designers, in-house graphic designers are expected to be on standby to help you and your brand or company full-time. Where they work and how long they work for your brand depends on the terms both sides agree upon. 

In-house graphic designers can work either on-site or remotely or both. These days many are working from home and considered in-house so long they are helping only one client full-time each day. 

Your costs include setting aside sufficient ongoing cash flow to support them every month, employee benefits such as insurance, paid leave, 

Here are some factors that will determine your cost of working with in-house graphic designers:

  1. Experience levels
  2. Past salaries
  3. Awards received
  4. Specialist or generalist
  5. Number of hours on-site will cost more than offline or remote
  6. Complexity and scope of work the designer will undertake daily

Fixed-Rate or Productized Graphic Design Service (SG$200 to SG$5000 or US$145 to US$3600 per month)

If you were to engage a productized graphic design company, you will be assigned graphic designers who have varying degrees of experience.

Such companies usually hire a team of graphic designers and train them under a set of systems and processes to provide consistent graphic design services to all their customers.

Besides putting their services on a retainer model, these companies have set packages of deliverables. For example, productized company A may only help you design logos and nothing else. Company B may only be designing infographics for you and nothing else.

Here are some factors that will determine your cost of working with in-house graphic designers:

  1. How many designers assigned to you at one time
  2. Turnaround time of deliverables
  3. Experience levels of designers
  4. Amount of work time offered to you
  5. Scope of work
  6. Response time (also depending on if you’d want a real-time live chat or not)
  7. Number of times of quality-check on each artwork

Working with your budget

If you are someone who usually designs your own products and marketing materials and would like to outsource this part of your day-to-day operations to a professional designer, here’s one way to come up with a budget.

Step one – figure out what’s your hourly rate, meaning what would you like people to pay you in exchange of your services per hour, prorated from your monthly income.

Why do we need to do this? That’s because if you are doing your own designs, you are spending the time that could have been used to bring in revenue or cash flow. 

You are not a professional designer, but you have been working as a designer for yourself. In this case, take note of your hourly rate that you may earn if you are not doing the design work at that time.

Step two – ask yourself if you would like to engage graphic designers who are able to achieve a similar quality design as the work you do. Or are you fine if the quality is not as good or as fast?

Step three – if you’d like another designer to match your quality and speed, your budget to hire a designer should be at least half that of your hourly rate. 

If you are good with any designer who works hard, not necessarily able to match your quality and speed, there’s no need to hire a designer to match your rate.

You may plus and minus from here based on what you know the market rate charges or what I’ve mentioned in the above sections.

Hourly rates do not make logical sense

You may see this as contradicting the previous section. In “Working with your budget”, I mentioned using your hourly rate to have a good ballpark of what you may wish to pay a designer to “replace” you.

In this section, I seemed to have turned the table to say not to pay by the hour.

Just to clarify, I’m not flipping any table. Both are different things. When working with your budget, the method of using your hourly rate is just a guide, not the amount you should pay your designer.

You may ask the designer what’s their hourly rate and compare with your hourly rate if you do it yourself. But when it comes to actual work and remuneration, hourly rates do not make logical sense. You will come to see you are on the losing end.

Say I’m a terrible designer, slow to work and don’t care what works for you, I will offer you a low market hourly rate so that you will be compelled to work with me. When the work comes, I can take as long as I want to work on it and charge you many hours of work. You pay more for me to take my time.

Many hours of work also may mean many hours of your time communicating with the designer and checking their work. That is costing you too.

Do you want to receive your design later or sooner? Sure you’d like it sooner. The faster the better. And you wouldn’t wish to pay more for something that takes a long time to arrive. If speed is what you want, you will be fine to pay more for faster delivery.

You want the best value in the shortest time possible, and the faster you receive an artwork for great quality is the value you are looking for.

Hourly rates allow many designers to drag the process as long as possible so that they get to earn more for the same thing that can be done in less time.

It’s not entirely the fault of the designer, it’s a motivation factor that works both ways.


Budgeting Tip: Based on our survey with prospective customers, on average they spend about $0 to $5000 per month on their graphic design needs. However, it’s not uncommon to see many people spend a lot more, sometimes more than $30,000.