There is a lot to know when it comes to pricing. There are whole books dedicated to the science of properly pricing design work.
There is a lot of really good information out there about pricing, and when I was starting out I read a lot of it. You can find almost everything you would want to know online. I quickly settled on a combined system of flat rate and hourly that works very well for me. I was all set.
However, one thing kept bugging me.
When I was quoting on new projects my gut would always tell me to quote higher depending on the size of the company or client. I felt like I should charge bigger clients more than smaller ones, but I really didn’t know why.
I didn’t know if it was fair, and I didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage of clients depending on their financial status.
I have to tip my hat to Jessica Hische, whose wonderful article, The Dark Art of Pricing, gave me a ton of insight on the topic and really helped me draw my conclusions.
So is it fair?
You might have guessed from this posts title that I think it is fair. The reason, though, has a lot less to do with the clients larger creative budget than you might think. Just because the client has a more money doesn’t mean you are entitled to charge them more. That, I think, would be unfair.
So here’s why it’s fair to charge your bigger clients more.
Bigger clients are likely to have a few other factors at play that make doing design work for them a little more expensive. Consider the following when pricing out projects for larger clients:
The size of their audience
When you bill a client, for the most part what they are buying (aside from your hourly work) is the right to display something you have created, and therefore hold the copyright to. This is either done through licensing; where the client buys the right to display the work in an agreed format for an agreed amount of time, or through a buyout; where the client buys the copyright and the work becomes their intellectual property.
A fortune 500 company is going to have a much larger audience to view the work than a mom and pop bakery. As the audience for the work is expanded, licensing and buyouts can be adjusted to match.
The scope of the work
They also have the ability to use your work in more applications and therefore you will have to consider a lot more factors while designing for them. A brandmark that will be on everything from business cards to billboards needs to be more versitile and well tested than the signage for a mom and pop store.
As the scope and mindfulness of your work must increase, so should your rates.
Should I charge my bigger clients more?
Not by default. Every client deserves fair and equal treatment. Larger clients will tend to need more versatile, thought-out work and wider licensing options, and those should be charged for accordingly.
Do you have a sliding scale for your clients? In the comments, tell us if you think it’s right to charge bigger clients more or if you think we’re all wrong.