4 Reasons Why Design is So Expensive

November 10, 2020

If you’ve ever gotten a quote from a brand or web designer, you might have been a little surprised at how expensive it was. $5,000 for branding?? $10,000+ for branding + a website?! That can be a lot for many small businesses and I completely understand the shock that they feel seeing those numbers. How did the designer even come up with that number? In this post, I’m going to lay it all out for you and explain the key factors that go into pricing a design project.

01 / Design takes time.

Design takes A LOT of time. And although from the client’s perspective, it can seem like we come up with things very easily and quickly, there is often hours upon hours of work going on behind the scenes that you never see. I may only present 2 logo concepts to my client, but I probably had to work through 20 variations of those concepts to find the best solution. Designers research, test, tweak. We spend A LOT of time doing very tedious work to create the final design, so keep that in mind when you see our pricing!

02 / Designers have experience.

Of course, many designers adjust their pricing based on their experience and skills within the industry. We usually have a very good awareness of what’s fair based on our talent and years of experience.

03 / Design has value.

Design can make a big impact on your business. It can directly affect things like sales, attracting your target audience, building trust + creating new partnerships, and more. Essentially, better design can lead to more money in your pocket. So some designers take that into consideration with their pricing. What they are creating for you could drastically help you increase your own revenue. So keep that in mind and know that design is valuable and should be viewed as an investment! When you hire a designer, you aren’t just paying them to spend X number of hours on something or to create X elements for your brand. You are paying them for the result. Go check out this post to hear some more thoughts on this.

04 / Designers have expenses too.

Look, we’re business owners too and we have bills to pay! I currently set aside 35% of all my income for taxes, so that money doesn’t even hit my bank account. And I also have plenty of monthly expenses to keep my business running. Tools, outsourcing, marketing, accounting, and so much more. And we have our personal expenses on top of that! Rent, mortgages, car payments, health insurance, student loans, etc. Just because we run an online business, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have any bills! We’re trying to make a living just like you. 🙂 If you want to read more about all of the expenses that I have as a business owner, check out this post.

If cost is a big issue for you, it may force you to only think about your budget when searching for a designer to work with. But your priority should be finding a designer that you trust, not just finding a designer that you can afford. Some experienced designers are willing to work with smaller budgets and be flexible. All you have to do is reach out and ask! They may be able to take a few things out of their packages to lower the cost (like the non-essential stuff that you might not need yet like collateral design, patterns, etc). Most designers also offer payment plans, splitting up the cost into smaller payments spread throughout the project. These are all things that can make the investment easier for you WHILE still paying them fairly for all the hard, valuable work that they’ll be doing.

What if it’s still too expensive?

If things still seem too far out of your budget, it may not the right time for you to work with a designer. And that’s ok! Especially for newer business, it’s important to know that things can drastically change during your first few years. Your target audience might shift. Your values may change. You may have to pivot in a way that you never expected. Because of this, sometimes it is best to wait a few years before investing in a professional designer. Many of my own clients come to me after running their businesses for 2-4 years. This seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of business owners when they’ve gotten through the experimental phase and finally have a clear direction for their business. So just keep that in mind that it’s ok to wait a little while!

There are plenty of temporary alternatives that you can use until you’re ready to invest in a high-quality designer. Here are some affordable options that you could look into:

  • DIY – It’s not always the best solution, but sometimes business owners decide to design their own branding or website in the beginning. I would only recommend doing this if you feel confident in creating something on your own that you can feel ok about. If you aren’t confident in your own design skills, hire someone else.
  • Buy a semi-custom brand – Some designers sell pre-made brands that are a great option for when you’re just starting out. Most are designed for specific types of businesses, so you can find one that fits your vision and connects with your audience.
  • Day Rate – Some designers also offer day rates or expedited projects where they create what you want in a very short period of time and at a lower price. Doing branding in a day can be a little rushed and obviously doesn’t go as in-depth as a full project, but it could work if you need something at a lower budget.

If you’ve ever been curious about what goes into the cost of design, I hope this breakdown has helped you understand the many factors that go into it! Working with a designer can be expensive. But for a good reason! So keep that in mind when reaching out to designers (or any other type of creative!)

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