Freelance art is a difficult field in many ways. It’s hard to value artwork, because unless you’re already very popular, there isn’t necessarily a demand for what you do. So, how can you put a value on your work? How can you make sure you make a profit?
The first thing to remember is that you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Don’t take $10 if it cost you $20 to make the piece. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to determine to price your work:
- Hourly pay
- The cost of your materials
Start with looking at the amount you want to make per hour. If you spend 10 hours on a piece, do you want to make minimum wage? Do you want to make $50 an hour? Once you know that, multiply it times the number of hours you worked.
Once you know the amount you want to earn per hour plus the hours you worked, you can add in the cost of materials. If the materials cost $40, the piece needs to sell for at least that to make back your expenses without even considering what you should be paid.
Here’s an example:
If you take 15 hours to create a graphic design and want $50 an hour, you should charge a minimum of $750 for your time. If you did not need to make a purchase, you may wish to add 10 to 15 percent to cover the wear and tear of your equipment. In total, you may end up asking for $800 or more for the design you’ve created. If that’s too much, you can negotiate based on your hourly rate.
Here’s a second example:
If you work 25 hours on a piece that cost you $60 in supplies, you know you need to charge at least $60 minimum to get what you spent back. If you’re okay with making $10 an hour, you can charge $310 for the piece. If you want $20 an hour, you can charge $560.
This is, of course, the rate for unknown individuals. As your popularity increases and the number of pieces you create is limited by your time, you can increase the amount you ask for them.
In my case, I used to charge a base rate of $3,000 for a children’s book (28 pages) since I can complete it in around a month if I work on the book full time or in two months part-time. As I become more popular and have less time, I will increase that rate. As an example, this year, I have at least two books to complete, and my time is much more limited. If someone wants to hire me, I would now charge at least $5,000 (my current monthly rate) for each month the project is expected to last, since I may have to put other work on the back burner.
What you charge is largely dependent on how you value your time and the product you’re creating. Don’t undervalue yourself. You’re the only person who can do exactly what you do.