A Guide to Negotiating Budgets with Clients

A Guide to Negotiating Budgets with Clients

Graphic designers aren’t in the habit of working for free, so establishing a clear budget with a client is essential to ensure the project is worth your while.

It’s always a little bit awkward when you start chatting about putting cash on the table, so many graphic designers, as a result, sell themselves short. However, the time has come for you to take the initiative back and start haggling on those budgets like a pro!

I’m going to take you through the steps required to make sure a firm price is agreed which leaves both parties with a result that’s satisfactory.

Make Sure You Have a Solid Pricing Structure in Place

Before you do anything you need to make sure you have a definitive set of costs for your work.

Some graphic designers like to charge at an hourly rate with materials whereas some prefer to charge a flat rate for an entire project. With hourly rates you can ensure you’re going to be paid for what you work, but the client is left unsure on costs. And flat rates guarantee you an acceptable final payment, but there’s always the risk that the project will overrun.

It’s essential then to consider the nature of the project thoroughly before committing to one method. Also, make sure you’re transparent with costs such as PayPal fees and expenses etc so that you don’t have to argue these once your invoice is submitted!

And once all this is in place you can get down to talking brass tacks with the client.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask about Their Budget

Money’s one of those subjects that cause us to clam up a little and, for some reason, feel a little embarrassed. Maybe we need to ask a client how much they’re willing to spend on a billboard campaign, but we’re worried they may offer an amount of money which shows them to be very small time.

But guess what? The only way you can find out is by asking them outright!

Now, you don’t want to be too blunt here and demand to know what their financial constricts are as that’s just rude. Instead, I’d recommend that you choose your wording carefully and aim for open questions such as “How much did you have in mind for putting into the project?”. This approach allows your client to decide the amount they’re willing to put in and, when they answer, whether you can work within this cost.

With this in mind you can now submit your price to the client.

The Client Wants a Lower Price

Clients are always looking for a good deal and you see that price you’ve just thrown their way? They’re pretty damn certain they can haggle it down by a good 10 – 20%.

And this is why negotiating budgets is so tricky. Two parties both want to get a financially viable deal.

So don’t be surprised to hear the dreaded words “That sounds great, but do you think we can do something on the price?”.

If you want to be successful as a business (as well as a graphic designer) then it’s at this point that you need to be firm and stick to your initial cost. The fact is that your work, hopefully, is worth the cost you’ve submitted. And you need to play on this to highlight how satisfied previous clients have been and why you’re worth the budget quoted.

Sometimes, though, the client will refuse your budget and you just have to accept this. There’s no point working on a shoestring budget simply to have some money rolling in. If you’re as good a graphic designer as I think you are, then a deserving budget will come your way in no time.



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