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Pricing: How Low Will You Go

by Mark Monlux

When a project comes your way, you may tempted to consider compromising your fee, especially if you’re struggling to make ends meet. In time negotiating a fair fee will become second nature to you. In the meantime, you may wonder if there is some sort of “don’t go any lower than this” price to ask for.

I can tell you not to go lower than the prices inside the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. Those are real prices from projects that were worked on and completed by designers in the industry. Because of FTC collusion laws, neither I, nor the Guild, can tell you what I think a price should be.

But, what we can do is tell each other the prices we received on projects because they are of historic record. And that is what the Guild does to arrive at these figures. They conduct a survey, asking for prices on completed projects that fall into the categories provided by the questionnaire. The questionnaire does not ask what the prices should be; only what that person actually invoiced.

And those prices are often compromised figures working stiffs negotiated lower to claim the project. So, the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines (or the Handbook, as we call it for short) is filled with prices that were compromises. Anyone looking at those prices and thinking that they are high is really shooting him or herself in the foot.

When I look at those prices, I consider that these were negotiated prices. I look to the high range or even add 20% before I consider the initial offer I make to the client. It is much easier to negotiate down a price than it is to raise a price while negotiating.

This article was originally published in the Graphic Artists Guild column, Dear Mark. www.markmonlux.com

© 2009 All Dear Mark materials are copyrighted by Mark Monlux, and may not be reproduced in any way without expressed written permission.

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my action or belief the material posted on “Dear Mark” discusses general principles of law in response to issues of concern to the illustration community. Nothing posted by Mark Monlux should be construed to be a substitute for advice of counsel regarding the specific facts and circumstances of an individual case.

Laws and their interpretation differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Legal advice addressing a specific situation should be sought from an attorney duly licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction.


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