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Offering price quotes to no-budget design clients

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Offering price quotes to potential clients can be one of the most difficult tasks a freelance designer faces. But the difficulty of quoting clients grows exponentially if those clients don’t even offer a ballpark budget for you to work within.

No-budget clients make designers play an irritating guessing game in hopes that the quote is close enough to the secret budget amount the client surely has in their head.

If you’ve ever had trouble offering a price quote to a no-budget design client, your troubles will be solved today. Just keep on reading.

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

All clients have a budget. All of them.

There are clients out there who are most interested in getting the best deal on design services. These kinds of clients are usually the ones that act like they have no budget in mind. That’s right, I said act. Because if you ever believe that any client doesn’t already have a budget in mind when they come to you, you’re crazy.

The important thing to remember is that all clients have a budget. You have a right to ask them what their ballpark figure is when offering them a quote for your design work. Even if you have to be as pushy as a car salesman, insist on finding out what their ideal budget is. It will make the quoting process much more enjoyable for both of you.

If they insist on keeping their budget a secret, they may not be the kind of client you want anyway. We’ll cover more of that in a minute.

Don’t drastically adjust your price according to budget

Just because you work hard to find out what your future client’s ideal budget amount is, it doesn’t give you the right to change your rates drastically. Some designers might decide to take advantage of a bigger budget and charge more than they normally would.

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But imagine the impression you’ll give your potential client when you quote them at 15% lower than their maximum amount instead of right at it or a little above. They’ll love you for it!

However, just like you shouldn’t inflate your price, don’t drastically reduce your price to fit the client’s budget. If the budget is too low, offer an honest quote and be prepared to not get the job. Some clients hire designers based solely on price.

Not all clients are worth it

The kinds of clients that make a decision based solely on the amount of money a designer charges, may not be the kinds of clients you want. They’ll likely be the kind of client that is constantly asking for more discounts, looking for free labor, searching for shortcuts, or paying their bills late. These aren’t the kind of clients you want.

It’s also been my experience that clients who refuse to divulge their budget aren’t worth it either. The key to a healthy designer-client relationship is open, honest communication from both ends.

Add your price-quoting tips

Offering quotes can be one of the most difficult tasks a designer faces. With these few tips and handy ideas, I hope you’ll be better prepared for the next time a no-budget (remember, they don’t actually exist) clients comes knocking on your door.

What other pricing tips would you add to what has been suggested in this article. Add your comment and contribute to the conversation.

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

Leave a Comment



  1. As a new freelance designer I’m just having trouble finding out what is a quality quote? For example…What would everyone charge for a WordPress Theme Design, Development and Integration (10 pages). Everyone seems to charge way different prices for the same thing? Feedback would be great!

    • @Ed,

      I too am a newbie at freelancing and trying to figure out how to give quotes. I’ve found that using sites like 99designs.com, can give you an idea of what to charge for different projects. There’s also other articles on this topic on graphicdesignblender. You could also try starting out with an hourly rate. Personally, I would charge between $300-400 per page for a basic “brochure” style website design and implementation. But like I said, I’m also a newbie so don’t take my word for it! But I think it’s a good number to start at πŸ™‚

    • Final Estimate = [Hours to Complete Theme + Fudge Factor Because you Probably Forgot Something + Estimated Hours Consulting with Client] * [Hourly Rate Working for Someone Else * 2]

  2. i had to turn down a few clients in the last two months because they offered to trade services or wouldn’t tell me a ballpark figure. can’t work with that.

  3. I find that the likes of elance.com and freelancer.com have put the professional designers in a really really tight spot. Clients are now expecting those type of low prices from US!! If I had to lower my prices to what the guys on those sites are selling for, I would have to work 4 times harder than I am now in order to make ends meet!

    I think that in order to “justify” (i use the term loosely) your prices to potential clients is more of a case of educating them. Let them know WHY you are the best choice – what do you get for the $220 logo, as opposed to the logo going on a site for $19 (prices are just there for example purposes).

    True, you won’t always be able to seal the deal, but at the end of the day, when they are give crappy work back for their $19, they will remember you and why your prices were higher, and guaranteed, they will come back to you πŸ™‚



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