This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

How to do an estimate as a graphic designer

When I first started doing freelance graphic design, at age 19, I found that the hardest thing wasn't doing the work, it was making the sale. And to make the sale, you have to give a price. That's what an estimate is all about. Unfortunately, graphic designers tend to get into the problem of starting the project, and then worrying about charging later. That's a good way to make both you and your client unhappy!

My very first client was a car repair shop, for whom I designed a car parts catalog in exchange for a new clutch in my MG Midget. And I patterned a lot of my business on the suggestions of the owners of this shop, who were real mentors to me.

Whatever business you are in, you need to let people know what it will cost them. *It depends* is no answer. Would you order a meal in a restaurant if you didn't know the cost? Would you buy some jeans at a store without a price tag? Would you drop off your car for repairs without knowing what it would cost?

Your client can't be expected to know what's involved with the project. That's part of your job, and if you can't do it, you really shouldn't be advertising yourself as a graphic designer. So here is how you do it

• Learn to write a proposal. Give real numbers. I always say that this job will take me *X number of hours at X rate*. Saying stuff like *it usually costs* or *the average is* is just wasting your client's time. They want a price. Yes, the first few times you do this, you will probably be too low. But at least you will make the sale, and get paid!

• Learn to write an invoice. If you are too timid to present the bill, then you really don't deserve to be paid. If you've done the work, and done it well, you should have no hesitation about presenting an invoice.

Most people who fail at graphic design fail because of a lack of simple business procedures, not a lack of talent. You can do this!