The Money Talk



The million-dollar question, how much will this project cost?

As we dive into the fresh, new year, we thought we’d share a behind-the-scenes look at how we price our projects. We believe this is a process that really sets Coast to Coast Studio apart from other creative agencies and we’re ready to share our secrets.

Once upon a time, when we first started Coast to Coast, pricing projects didn’t come naturally. We were undercharging and spending hours and hours on projects that weren’t paying the bills. We loved what we were doing so much, that being paid a fair wage was somewhat of an afterthought. As we bounced around from coffee shop to coffee shop, we decided we deserved to afford the extra coffee refill.

Through plenty of research and guidance from some of our designs heroes, such as David Airey and Debbie Millman, we started understanding the value of our work. The wonderful thing about graphic design is that we’re creating designs and brands that will make our clients money and help them hit their goals. Through believing in ourselves and the designs we were producing, we were able to take on the right clients and charge a beneficial amount for both parties.

However, it wasn’t that simple. Some clients had bigger budgets, others had a two-day deadline – we needed to figure out the perfect formula. Here’s what we came up with.

01 | The Design Brief

What a lifesaver our design brief has become. We decided that before we sent over a quote to our clients, we needed to know what exactly they needed to be done, what their set budget was, an estimated timeline, and more. This design brief has alleviated so much back and forth via email and it instantly gives us an idea of the project.

02 | Pricing out the Details

Now we understand the scope of the project, how quickly it needs to be completed, and our client’s budget. Here’s when we internally discuss the number of hours we think it will take, how we can fully compensate our time while staying close to the budget, and if we think it’ll be a fruitful experience for both parties.

Keeping the client’s budget in mind, we price out the project and see where it lies on our schedule. If we’re in the midst of the busy season and our client needs a project a week later, the price will go up. If we’re staying true to our schedule and the deadline is our normal 3-4 weeks, we’ll go through the different materials and calculate the hours, expertise, current economy, company sales, competitor prices, and more. After this analysis, we’ll find the right balance.

03 | Meeting in the Middle

If you’ve worked with our studio in the past, you know how seriously we take our client’s budget. It’s important we’re staying within their means and providing a stress-free experience. That being said, we also want to make sure it’s an amount that can sustain our business.

Our theory is the client will pay what they believe their business is worth. If they take their business very seriously and want to experience rapid growth, they’ll invest in an in-depth experience with a complete brand identity, creative consultation, and a website that reflects their branding. If a business is just getting off the ground, the value may be lower – and that’s okay. We want to meet in the middle and find a price that we’re both comfortable with.

Though meeting in the middle can sometimes be a delicate balance, it’s always worth it to provide value for our client and for our studio, as well!

Talking money can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience for creative professionals. However, it doesn’t have to be. Our advice is to ask your clients if they have a budget in mind, then work from there. Also, it’s crucial not to settle for a price you’re uncomfortable with. You’re taking the time to sketch, think, and design this project to the fullest – make sure it’s paying the bills!

For those of you looking for design work, take an honest look at your finances and find a price that’s comfortable for you, before reaching out to a design studio. Assess the value of your brand – where you’re currently at, where you’d like to be in a year, how important the right, timeless brand is, and more.) That way, you know your set budget and you can present it to your designer. This will make it a seamless process for both the agency and the client!

The Money Talk doesn’t have to be intimidating, it’s the perfect way to get to know your client and their business and vice versa.


L + P