Why a design does not cost $10, or even $100!

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Run, don’t walk from cheap design!

I recently got a prospective client asking about having a flyer designed. Great! I thought, that’s what I do! Unfortunately they found out that I was way outside of their budget. Now, I get it, even the starting price of what I charge for isn’t exactly cheap, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a professionally designed item for much less than that. So they told me their budget was $10! And that’s what made me write this post.

There seems to be a disconnect between what designers know and what everyone else think they know when it comes to the reality of design, and why it’s not cheap. The reasons are many, but let me just start out by saying us designers aren’t trying to take you for all you’re worth; rather, we know what goes into creating a design that will last a lifetime.   Believe it or not, designing actually takes work.

Professional designers aren’t just “Photoshopping around” on their computers all day. Any design we do requires work, and we take our profession very seriously.   We went to school to learn the principles of good design; we need the necessary skills to properly use design programs; we devote our days to self-marketing, research, meeting and discussing with clients, going over briefs, and present drafts. As passionate as we are about our work, at the end of the day, it’s still work. Much goes into the design process itself. Part of the reason so much time goes into design is because we have to do things like discuss with the client, create a proposal, research your company, research your competition, research your audience, brainstorm, generate ideas, seek inspiration, sketch, do roughs, create the actual ideas, refine them, show them to you, get feedback, go back and do revisions, finalize the design, choose a suitable typeface and color palette…The list goes on, but by now you can see that the process of a design is quite extensive.

Those cheap “designers” you see, they probably just design something off the top of their head without knowing anything about your business, your audience, or your competition. So it might be a cute design but it won’t have any staying power, and it won’t strengthen your brand. Or they might steal a logo that’s already out there, and you’ll be liable for copyright infringement. Or they could just use some cheap clip art, which looks horrible. Fun stuff like that that I’m sure you don’t want any part of. You know that saying, “you get what you pay for?” Zero difference when it comes to design.  

I typically spend anywhere from 10-30 hours on every single design that I do for a client. See the steps I outlined above to get a better idea of where that time goes. Now ask yourself how you’d feel if someone offered you $10 for 10 hours of hard work. With all of your experience and skills. And your education. Exactly. I’d be offended too!


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