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When it comes to the dilemma of aligning with your cheap clients on a more realistic rate for your freelance design services, the problem is just that: alignment. If you have a cheap client you are struggling to get up to your rates, it’s because they don’t understand the value of your work. When someone is undervaluing you, it’s your responsibility to help them understand precisely the value you add – only then will they feel comfortable paying what your services are actually worth. To help you have a productive alignment conversation (that speaks your client’s language), here are five points to discuss with your client:

01. Your Design Work Provides…Financial Return on Investment

First and foremost, the expense your client is taking on when they pay for your services needs to be worth it for them – and it is! You just need to clearly articulate the value-add of your work in terms of profitable benefits for them. Your quality design will enable your client to increase their sales, so although they are taking on an expense when they work with you, the expense pays itself back tenfold. A large contributing factor to your client’s financial return on their investment relates to my next point.

02. Your Design Work Provides…Improved Brand Perception

Quality design is one of the most effective ways to instill trust in a brand. Everyone is familiar with the dynamic of comparing companies online, judging the effectiveness of each based solely on the quality of their design. That is the difference your work makes for your client. You help them become the company that stands out among their competition due to high-quality design. Though difficult to measure, unlike financial returns mentioned previously, improved brand perception provides your client with the ability to instill trust in potential customers that expect higher quality (which will yield improved business over time).

03. Your Design Work Provides…Improved Brand Awareness

When a brand’s perception increases, as does that brand’s awareness. Your design work enables your client to achieve a broader reach than ever before. When design is done right, your clients will stand out from the competition and get noticed by the target audience, helping the reach new potential customers.

04. Your Design Work Provides…Improved Business Efficiency

There are specific types of design (that you may very well be doing for your client) that actually improve the efficiency in how their business functions. Say, as an example, you have designed a new app or tool for your client. That tool or app is then being leveraged internally within the company to decrease time spent on unnecessary tasks – improving time spent on value-add tasks. We all know time is highly valuable, so by you saving your client’s business time, you are allowing them to increase their profitability.

05. Your Design Work Provides…Improved Customer Conversion

If the first four points aren’t reason enough, it’s also important your client understands that your design work directly increases customer conversion. With better quality design, customers are more likely to make a purchase when they are exposed to your client’s brand. It goes back to trust. A brand’s design is essential to instilling trust in potential customers, which is precisely what your work does. When a potential customer trusts a brand, they are happy to purchase from that brand.

Time to Start Charging More!

The value of your design work is abundantly clear when articulated plainly. The work you do far exceeds the design itself, but improves their business, as a whole, in vital ways. In reality, the expense of paying a designer is minuscule in the grand scheme of the benefit quality design offers a business – you just need to help your client understand that.

By explaining the financial return, improved brand perception and awareness, improved business efficiency, and of course, heightened customer conversion, there is no way your client will be able to question whether your rates are a worthy expense in the long run. Now, it’s time to have the conversation with your client and start charging them more money for the real value you create!


Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.