How to make a good budget if you are a graphic designer?

In 2011 I started working as freelance graphic and web designer punctually while I resumed my design studies, although I have since spent the last 2 years working for clients full-time as a freelance designer and have written more than 350 estimates.

When I had to create my first graphic design quotes I had no idea what they should include, so I always asked some more experienced colleagues or searched for information on the internet. Well, this was not enough because many times the projects and conditions are too particular and I learned to better define my design budgets and adding clauses based on failure.

I remember that one of my most fateful budgets was to design a poster in which I did not indicate that the client had to send me the images, nor how many modifications and proposals were included, nor the project development deadlines for the delivery of feedback on the part of the client and a long etcetera. You know what happened? It took me 6 months to finish a poster that I thought would take me 1 week and I ended up making about 14 versions with images that I myself looked for in free image banks (because the client did not want to pay for premium images nor did he have quality photographs), photocompositions and photomontages different because the client was not clear about the photo he wanted to appear. Of course, it was a job I took on for free (a mega mistake) and I worked hours and hours and hours for a ridiculous price.

Furthermore, the project was stopped waiting for its feedback because other more important tasks had arisen and the poster was suddenly no longer in a hurry, so every few weeks he appeared with "how would it look with a photo of I don't know what?" And worse, one day he came in a hurry and needed urgent changes to the poster with ideas that had occurred to him.

From this and many other similar cake-based experiences I learned to dedicate time to improving the conditions of my graphic design budgets but I think trial and error is a very frustrating process. In fact, the issue overwhelmed me with every budget I had to face.

I think I'm not the only one with these frustrations and doubts with the client's budget because normally we start as a freelancer without knowing all these details of the business. For this reason, I want to help you thanks to a series of clauses that cannot be missing in the next design budgets that you write for your clients.

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Important clauses for making a graphic design budget

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Payment method for graphic design

I meet many designers who deliver design sketches or logo proposals for new clients without asking for an initial payment and then the "client" disappears with his ideas and does not pay a dime. Don't give in when they ask you for free proposals! To show your skills and style you already have your creative portfolio.

It is recommended to always request an advance from 50% on the total of the project and never start working until the client makes the first payment. It is important that you keep in mind that No design or material made should be shown without the client paying the advance..

The rest of the payment, depending on whether it is a longer or shorter project, is better to divide it between the months that it is estimated that the work will be done, or if it is a small job or short project, request the other 50% once the work is approved. and before final delivery.

Clause example: To approve the budget, it is necessary for the client to enter the 50% of the total in account XXXXXXXXXXXX.

Creative Design Description

Write in detail What does creative work consist of? what you are going to do, including everything that is going to be delivered and what you DO NOT deliver or include. If you do not detail this well, you run the risk of not limiting your work well and ending up doing a lot of extra work for free.

For example: If you make a web design work In WordPress, always explain that you do not include technical maintenance once the website is delivered (in any case there will be a period set by both parties to review the work delivered and correct possible errors that are your responsibility) or that you do not include the SEO strategy but yes the implementation if they give you everything at the beginning.

It also indicates in which color mode, formats and dimensions you deliver the files.

If you do NOT deliver the original and/or editable files, also indicate this. Some designers deliver them for free and others only if the client requests it and they add an extra to the budget. This is your decision but keep in mind that an editable is like a mold: the sculptor delivers the sculpture, not the mold with which he made it in order to make duplicates of it.

It also makes it very clear what the work and communication system is going to be: if you work by email, face-to-face meetings, by Skype, telephone... Many times for small projects you can find clients who want to meet for EVERYTHING (and many also require that you you go to their office), which makes work take a long time and you end up working extra hours (meetings also count as work hours) and wasting time in unnecessary meetings. Indicates whether the extra cost of a face-to-face meeting at the client's office not established within the planning is necessary.

Cover your back well and you will avoid disappointments and misunderstandings. I tell you from experience.

Example of clauses:

– Printing and management with printers not included.

– Applications under paid license, layout, programming, paid photographs, advertisements, creation and editing of videos and animations and any other application or system not expressly included.

– If new needs are detected during the corporate or web design, these will be duly budgeted.

Creative advertising briefing

He briefing is an essential document for any creative design work. It specifies in detail the characteristics of the project, the objectives that the client wants to achieve, information about their company/brand/product, target audience, message they want to convey, aesthetic needs (with examples if possible) and ultimately everything. that will guide you to be able to do your job.

It is important to indicate in the budget that the client must provide you with all this information in a document. If the client does not have this part done, you can give them a template with questions to fill out and give you all the information. It is extremely important that the client specify all the details as much as possible to be able to translate their needs into a design that resembles what they have in mind.

Here you can find some questions and a briefing template for creating a company logo: What to ask a client to design their logo

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Responsibility for spelling of advertising design

Writing and spelling will always be the responsibility of the client. If there are typos and the client does not review it, you should not be responsible. Inform the client to always review in detail all the text in the files he delivers and in the final artwork (just in case). You don't want to spend a lot of money printing cards or posters and have a spelling mistake. The printing company is not going to take responsibility for its mistake either.

On the other hand, you are a designer and you do NOT have to write texts and creative copy (unless you offer copy services of course). This is a part that the client must complete before you begin your part of the design work. Make it clear that the client must give you the definitive and exact texts that must appear in the design and also that must be reviewed and corrected previously.

Clause example: The client must approve all work carried out, verifying that there are no spelling errors. Once approval is given, subsequent corrections or changes will be budgeted separately.

Limit revisions and adjust the design budget

Always set a limit for revisions and corrections on your work. It also always indicates how many initial proposals you deliver and the cost it would cost to make a new proposal if necessary. Otherwise you will work twice as much for the same amount and on top of that the deadlines for completing the work will be lengthened.

Clause example: Every client has the right to two corrections to the initial design. From then on, a 5% will be charged on the budget for each correction.

Creative texts and images delivered at the beginning by the client

This is closely related to point 4. The texts, data or images that go into the design must be delivered by the client before starting to design. You should not start designing your creative project without having ALL the documentation together. I have made the mistake many times of starting to work without having all the text and images and ending up working 3 times more because when not all of the text is approved, you start working and the client will most likely start making changes to their own text and have to do and undo a few times. Avoid it!

Furthermore, if once I have given you the information you consider or identify that it requires photographic retouching, photomanipulation or purchasing/acquisition/creation of images, creative copywriting, text optimization, you will have to budget separately and even outsource it.

Clause example: Once the budget is approved, the client must deliver the final text, data and images before starting the design. If photographic retouching or acquiring images is required, it will be budgeted separately.

Work calendar to organize your creative design

It is important that you define a work calendar together with your client to indicate the deadlines for each one: for the delivery of documentation and for each phase of the project. I didn't do it, I only indicated an estimate of how long it would take me to deliver the design proposal but of course, then the delivery of documentation by the client comes into play, the feedback and corrections, revision... and all of that prolongs the completion. of projects.

To prevent everything from being delayed ad infinitum, you will have to subdivide the work into the different tasks and requirements of each part and stipulate a deadline for each thing. This way everyone will be clear when the deadlines for each phase are.

One day I posted a question to a Facebook group asking how they prevented the client from delaying projects for not delivering their part on time and this was one of the answers that interested me because I had not taken it into account:

Carlos Arturo Villota T:

"Hello Laura! When starting a project it is advisable to make a breakdown of the deliverables and activities that make up the project. You can penalize the client in the contract with some % on the budget for delay, a clause that would apply in both senses, not only for him. Now the advisable thing would perhaps be to determine the times or deadlines for each activity according to the resources allocated to it, which is if the client is delayed within a set period, and some of your activities (or all) are affected in time, you argue that you need more resources to do it (e.g. hire staff or outsource processes)."

I think it can be a good clause for the client to take their part seriously, although I don't like having to "punish" the client either. Surely if you put it in your budget you will never have to apply the extra % for delay but I leave it to your choice. I think that perhaps defining the calendar and signing it by both parties may be enough.

Another answer that I found interesting was that of Roy Mac:

«What we do at Ojo Terzo is indicate in the quote clauses that the project delivery time depends a lot on the response time with the client's feedback. And the times begin to be counted from the moment the complete prior documentation has been received. In the event that another client's project is required to be postponed (or work must be done outside of normal business hours) the client must pay a fee of +50% to receive their work as "urgent". It is worth mentioning that by saying this in the clauses, no one has paid us this fee or rushed us with delivery times.

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Other interesting clauses for a graphic designer

In addition to what was mentioned above, you can add other clauses such as:

  • Indicate that all your works are published in your online creative portfolio (indicating the web address).
  • Data Protection Act
  • Project Confidentiality
  • Copyright

Ultimately these are the clauses that I always take into account in my budgets. With them you will avoid misunderstandings, free extra work and projects that never end...

What other clauses do you consider necessary?

Tell us in the comments!



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