I am a beginner at graphic design work but I have been using Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and other computer programs for years. I currently live in Austin, TX where there are tons of freelance designers.

A couple months ago, I was working for an event production company as a personal assistant and online brand manager. I was managing the company blog, Wordpress website, social media and basically anything else they needed done. I had two rates as an employe. My regular office rate was $11.50 per hour and $15.00 per hour for on-site event pay. About half of my time was spent in the office and the other half was mostly spent at events on the weekend. After a while, I decided to leave due to the the company's personal politics and I wanted to focus more on my own creative work. Plus, the pay was hard to live on.

So…my ex-boss now wants me to come back and work for her. She is overwhelmed and needs someone asap. This time I would be working from home on the online updates for the company site, blog, designing event programs, brochures, etc. They liked my work and like the fact that we worked together. She hasn't told me how much she is willing to pay but I don't expect it to be much since the hours will be only a few random hours a week. Knowing this company the hours will be sometimes more and sometimes less.

My goal is to have (generally) regular hours one day a week and be paid fairly. I would be on contract as a freelance designer so I have think about taxes. The main question I'm looking to get input on is how much would you charge for this type of arrangement? I definitely want to keep things regulated and simple. Again, I am new at this. I'd appreciate your input!



3 Answers 3


First realize that depending upon where you are in the US $11-$15 is practically minimum wage. Not quite, but it's not much more. If the companies can't go out and pull someone off the street to do your job, you're worth much more than minimum wage.

@DA01 gave an excellent link in his comment: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/959/306 check that. There are a lot of overhead charges as a freelancer you don't have as an employee - software, hardware, health care, electricity, heat, gas, water, organization dues, equipment maintenance, accounting, clerical hours, etc.

There's also a common thought that freelance rates should be approximately 3 times as large as any employment rate. So, if you were making $12/hr as an employee you'd charge roughly $36/hr as a freelancer. I, personally, still think that is much too low in most cases for anyone with more than a year or two of experience.

Truth of the matter is, no one can tell you what you should charge. It's all based upon your overhead and your experience and expertise. Someone who has 5 years experience is almost always going to be worth more than someone with 1 year of experience. In addition, there can be other factors such as region of work, type of work, specialized style, etc.


The most conservative approach is to perform an analysis of your monthly expenses, added to the possibility of business (hardware/software) expenses. This number, divided by the hours you think you can bill for, should be the very minimum you can and should charge a client.

Keep in mind that you will spend time marketing yourself, training, and drumming up work, and no one will pay you for those hours.

In freelancing, you will find eventually the need for accounting and legal services, as well as periods of inactivity. This is why most freelancers charge at least an additional third of their base salary for these inevitable contingencies.


Based on standard freelance practice and the information that you provided your fair billing fee should be exactly:

$27.50 per hour

  • Hey Mike, thanks for weighing in. As a Q&A site geared towards teaching and learning, we're looking for answers that focus on how and why and not just what. Can you edit and explain in greater detail how you arrived at this figure, so that future visitors with the same or similar problem can use that information to solve their pricing problem as well? See How to Answer for more details.
    – jmort253
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:45