With all the commoditised design sites out there like Fiverr or 99Designs, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Trying to operate a design business can be tough. It’s never about wether you can do the work these days, it’s more about how much is it going to cost!. But the reality is that all businesses are going to compete and so should you. There are ways you can overcome the struggle, ways you can stay ahead of the game. What is everyone offering? and What can you offer that everyone else hasn’t thought of yet?

When speaking with designers, clients/business owners, the common topic of conversation is currency. From the designers perspective “the client wont pay my rate”‘ from the client/business perspective; “For that price I can get multiple design options” or “This site is offering design for $XX”. Design is a competitive market now and as designers and independent business owners we have to think smart.

So why should a client hire you when they can pay $50 for a logo or other design work? You must have the answer to this question and be able to explain it to your prospect, or they will put you in the same box as those other services.

When the focus is on pricing, there is always someone willing to do it cheaper. Don’t dwell on the person that offered your client the cheaper rate. You need to keep on in search of the clients that will pay your rate. Some clients are happy to pay a premium rate for premium services. There is a correlation between the rate and the type of client you attract.

Clients who’re looking for cheap services and not focusing on the impact their brand or product will have on their business don’t understand the value of a good logo, branding or website or marketing. It shouldn’t be about if it just looks good and it should never be about the fact that designers can do it because they have the tools and the client doesn’t. Clients should understand that it’s not just a good design, but an investment in their business, something that will produce results for them.

A Client that understand good design will not question cost, and more acknowledge what work you have done for that is going to bring in for them in the near future. But to every good there is the bad client, the one that think’s it’s too expensive, argue or negotiate the invoice with you and love to manage the design thinking. You can never really guess who you are going to get when you sign up client, sometimes is just too late.

Know your pricing and stick to it. Understand the quality you are delivering, but doing a little research you can see what everyone is charging and also see the quality of work they are offering. This will help you determine the value of your work. Don’t make the mistake of going too low, because even though you’re lower than the next person, to a potential good client (willing to pay the higher rate), will also determined your design skills based on what you charge. Cheap is never a good thing, because cheap is a perception of low quality and cutting corners. It’s it also a short term frame of mind.


When a potential or existing client comes to you, they are asking for a logo, a brochure, a website or something else. You have to ask yourself, “What do they actually need”?

Do they need:

  • to look more professional or re-invent their current look;

  • to convince potential customer, clients or prospects;

  • to attract new people;

  • to have a larger presence in the market

Brief the client in detail to find out the deeper need and the results they’re trying to achieve. This is also helps you determine:

  • what services you can offer;

  • what additional products or designs the client might need or want;

  • what to charge the client; and

  • build a trusting relationship with the client as you have taken the time to understand what they actually want and need.


What do you offer that those services and most other designers don’t? Whether you’re designing a logo or providing print or website design, you’re not providing designs off an assembly line or acting as an order taker at a fast food joint. You’re a consultant; you’re an expert. So act like it! Get to know your client’s business. Do your research in that industry. Have a phone, video or in-person consultation and ask questions such as the following:

  1. Who is the company?
  2. What is their Mission?
  3. Do they have Values and if so what are they?
  4. What does your company/organisation do?
  5. What services or products do you offer?
  6. What is the objective of the design?
  7. Who are your target audience?
  8. How do you want them to feel when they interact with your brand? (i.e., safe and secure, edgy and excited, exclusive and cool, etc.)
  9. Who inspires you?
  10. Who are your competitors in this space?
  11. Are these long term or short term goals?
  12. What is your budget or expectation of cost? (There may or may not be a solution you can provide within their budget, but you’ll find out up front, which means you won’t waste time putting together a proposal and chasing work if it’s not possible.)

It may seem like the Spanish inquisition but if you’re not asking these types of questions, then how can you create a solution? Remember, design is a visual way to solve a problem. You have to understand the problem before you can provide a solution.

So, listen: clients only care about what the work you do for them will do for them! They want results and want return on investment. Help the client understand how your design choices relate to their audience and their goals. When you go to provide an estimate, don’t make it simple put some detail into it, show the client that you have thought about it. Use the answers they give you to from the questions you asked them in the initial consultation.

See below as a basic example:

{Task involved in meeting requirements} $XX
{Any additional out of expense charges} $XX
{Address Time (cost for Urgency} $XX
Total $XX



Some clients may like companies like Fiverr or 99Designs because they get a lot of designs or unlimited revisions, etc. They think it’s better to see more designs than fewer. This is an incorrect perception—that they’re getting more for their money, that quantity is more important than quality. The issue with these is that too many options lead to indecisiveness. Most clients that use these sites have to fill in a brief and usually these briefs are never really filled out completely, hence why there are some many options and variable designs. The Client is unsure of what they are after and just want to see multiple options until they are happy with something that looks nice.

There is no understanding of the target audience, the message, the objective or what the client is trying to achieve. Or the client just has no idea what they wanted and really doesn’t understand their own target audience. Use these terms and reasons as an example or if you have already had a client come to use after using these sites, use that as an example, I know I have!. This can actually make selling your design services easier.


Some clients who use these other services are satisfied—until:

  • they realised that file type is wrong, or not packaged correctly, is not the right size or suitable for print.
  • the logo needs to be scaled up or used in one colour. The logos were not vectors because they were designed in Photoshop and not Illustrator.
  • the client gets a cease-and-desist letter from or, even worse, sued for infringement by a company with a similar logo design but different name, or by a stock image company as a result of the designer illegally using a stock icon. That could mean a license wasn’t purchased, or that a license was purchased but the designer wasn’t allowed to use it in a logo design. In these cases, the logo ends up costing the client much more money than they initially spent on the logo design—plus, quite possibly, their reputation.
  • the client gets a site build but with no education on how to manage it.

These are only a few examples of real-life situations where the clients are left to fend for themselves, they have existing needs not being met or new ones to be addressed, problems to be solve. Use these as opportunities for you to provide better deliverables.

The key to being a good designer is common sense.

Know your Value?, Understand the Business, Always Quality not Quantity and Ensure Delivery at all times.

Ask questions, Listen and be professional, when these key points in mind your client will see what choosing you over commoditised design sites is a better investment. There is no guarantee that you will win, but that is just the difference between getting a client that wants a cheap and fast design as apposed to the client that wants thoughtful and quality design solutions. Stick to your guns and don’t drop your rate for anyone. Clients speak to each other; the most common way of business return for designers is through referrals. If you offer a client a lower rate than normal, chances are you would end up doing it for the referred client. Know your worth!