How to Communicate your rates like a Pro

As a freelance textile designer it often makes sense to charge by the project or pattern. But there are other times when it makes sense to charge by the hour. A few examples of these times include: repeats, colorways, updates to existing patterns and color separations.

A key benefit of charging by the hour is that you will be paid for all the hours that you work. If you come across a difficult client or a tricky repeat, for example, there can be endless revisions or updates. When you charge by the project, these updates are basically done for free.  Sure, you can put caps on revisions and updates, but this requires you to “police” your clients a bit. Kind of an awkward situation, especially for new designers.

As a freelancer working in a service or consulting capacity, you’re not really selling a product such as a book or a finished pattern. Clients may feel your prices are negotiable, making the experience frustrating for you. That’s why it’s important to spend time developing a pricing structure you feel comfortable with – one you can stand behind even when client’s question your rates.

After all, this is your business. It’s important to set prices based on your own comfort level, and not what your friends charge or what your clients recommend. Here are my tips to get you started…

 

Setting your rates

In my experience, freelance hourly rates for textile designers range from $35-$80 an hour. I have seen some designers charge less and other designers charge more, but this range is what clients are accustomed to paying in general. Here’s how the range breaks out:

Assistant Textile Designers: $35-$45 an hour. Duties include: repeats, colorways, trend research, simple print development, updates to existing prints

Jr. Textile Designers: $45-$60 an hour. Duties include: original artwork development, trend forecasting, colorways, updates to existing prints, repeats

Sr. Textile Designers: $60-$80 an hour. Duties include: trend forecasting and presentation, print collection development, color palette development, management and supervision of junior-level designers

 

Of course, there’s more to consider than just experience level and job duties. I suggest you think about these factors when deciding on an hourly rate that works for you:

 

Cost of living. If you live in a large city, such as London, New York, or Los Angeles, your rates should be higher than those who live in smaller cities or towns.

Speed. If you work very slowly then consider charging a rate that is slightly lower. As you gain experience, your speed will increase and so should your rate!

Hours. If you prefer to work only a few hours a week, then consider charging a higher rate. Those clients who truly want to work with you will be happy to pay your exclusive rate.

 

Communicating your rates

Talking about rates and pricing can be an uncomfortable experience for both the designer and the potential client. I find clients usually need time to process pricing information and verify that they have room in their budget for the process.

After several slightly awkward phone conversations with potential clients, I developed a rate sheet to better communicate my rates and the services that I offer. I discuss a project with a client first, and then let them know I’ll be sending my rate sheet to them. At that point they can decide how they’d like to move forward.

Sometimes, while emailing a client, I have a feeling that my pricing might be out of their budget. When this happens, I normally send over my rate sheet beforehand to save both myself and the client time.

Creating a professional rate sheet makes your prices appear less negotiable. It also saves you time and is a wonderful way for your new client to learn more about your background.

Your rate sheet should be consistent with your branding and include:

1. A short biography
2. A list of your specialties
3. Your rates
4. Client testimonials
5. Links to your portfolio
6. LinkedIn page, blog, and website

I created an editable rate sheet template that you can DOWNLOAD HERE.

Thinking about your rates in advance helps you confidently communicate your rates when speaking to clients. Creating a professional rate sheet helps you avoid awkward conversations, frustrating negotiation, and confusion on the part of your clients.

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18 Comments on “How to Communicate your rates like a Pro

  1. Very informative thank you. Having recently taken a change in my career path moving slightly away from lecturing in art and design, i took the plunge to go back to University myself and study another MA, this time in textile design. I am reaching the end of my course and this is the moment when I need to see if my designs will fit into the market place.Hence why no live website at the moment as rebranding etc.Thanks again. Penny

  2. Great post Michelle, I couldn’t agree more! Having a rate sheet makes everything much simpler when talking to clients. I think it’s important to build it in a way that gives the client the option to choose how they want to work with you according to their budget. That way you both know what to expect beforehand, in terms of work load and time spent, and there are no awkward surprises later on. I also found that when you build your rate sheet with logic behind it – think about why you’d charge a certain amount for a certain project/work – you’ll have more confidence when talking to clients and answering questions about your rates. And if your estimations are wrong and you feel underpaid – you can always revise the rate sheet for future projects, until you reach something you feel good about.

  3. Great post – thank you! Having a pricing conundrum today, actually. It’s always nice to see how someone else approaches it!
    I also find that my price changes based on my client a little bit – I give a little break to smaller local shops that I do graphics/illustration work for since they cant pay the same prices as my corporate freelance clients and Im still happy to do the work. On the flip side, it seems like the corporate clients in NYC pay an even higher rate than other big clients because its more on par with what they are used to.

  4. Thank you very much for this information! It’s been very difficult to find out any industry specifics for rates, and
    you’ve provided some good parameters.

  5. So helpful and useful! Thanks Michelle for this post! I think many of us needed this!

  6. Very helpful and insightful Michelle! I was wondering if you could also provide us with insights on how much freelance textile pattern designers normally or usually charge per project or per pattern as opposed to per hour? I have no clue about that, it would be very good to learn. Many thanks!

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Noa! This is great.

  8. So glad you enjoyed the post, thanks for your comment!

  9. Thank you so much for this! I just got a request this morning about doing some freelance pattern design work and I wasn’t really sure how to determine my hourly rate. This was super helpful. You guys are awesome. :)

  10. Thank you Michelle for the breakdown! It was very helpful to know that I was in line with my rates.
    I do have one question I continue to get from clients… and that is a price break down for projects. I understand charging the hourly rate after the project has been submitted and there are some revisions etc… But what is a good project flat rate for the different levels you listed. Associate, Jr, Senor and so on?

    Thank you!
    Melissa M

  11. Hi Melissa, sorry we missed this! We don’t charge flat rates but if this is something you are interested in doing it’s important to take into account the full scope of the project, and how many hours you foresee it taking you, including revisions, to ensure you are paying yourself fairly and not getting shortchanged. You may find this book a helpful resource: https://www.amazon.com/Graphic-Artists-Handbook-Pricing-Guidelines/dp/0932102166/ref=dp_ob_title_bk This article also provides some interesting insights: http://blog.careerfoundry.com/career-change/pricing-freelancer/

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.