Why Are Graphic Designers so Expensive?

Why Are Graphic Designers so Expensive?

As a designer that works primarily on Etsy (which I LOVE by the way – I love my clients, they work hard and they are absolutely amazing people), I frequently see logo and branding designs that are priced around $20-30; sometimes they include a potential “retire this logo” option for an additional fee. I’d also have to be living under a rock to say I’ve never heard of Fiverr or Freelancer and their steep “deals” on logos.

For handmade sellers just starting out, it can be a complete shock to see someone asking $150+ for a branding kit/suite. “How could it be that expensive?! Is there really another person who is asking me to shell out more cash?! How am I ever going to be in the green?! How can I afford materials for my business?!”

Deep breath. We’re going to walk through this together and unravel the myth that a good graphic designer is “expensive.”

I’m going to explain the behind-the-scenes costs of logo design and why you owe it to yourself and your handmade business to hire a reputable designer.

You’re Actually Paying for Talent, Experience, and Operational Costs

If you’re a handmade seller, I know hearing the phrase “Why are your handmade items so expensive?!” bothers you very deeply. As it should. And it’s like nails on the chalkboard of your soul, I’m sure.

You have materials, labor, equipment, packaging, shipping, Etsy or Handmade @ Amazon fees to pay. And don’t get me started on advertising, taxes, business licensing, etc.

Would you believe me if I told you that this is the exact same principle at work for a freelance graphic designer like me?

Because it totally is.

Designers have operational costs just like other businesses; a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, a workhorse of a computer for design work, a design education, books, continuing education courses, commercial use font licenses, and, if they’re on Etsy, listing fees.

And don’t forget the most expensive commodity of all: time. Time to learn, time to grow as a designer, time to create a brand identity for their clients.

A Reputable Graphic Designer Invests Time in You and Your Brand

It is my job as a designer to get to know my clients. I learn about you and your brand through a questionnaire but that’s just the beginning. I ask a lot of questions, I build a relationship with you, I work through revisions with you… it’s truly a one-on-one experience.

Even after my work is done, I keep in touch with all of my logo clients. I am fully invested in them and their success. I cheer them on, I plug them on Instagram, I recommend them to people.

But this all takes time.

And these hours of research, discussion, promotion, and then the actual design time, are accounted for (and if not, they SHOULD be) in a designer’s pricing.

Unfortunately, designers who do nothing but $5 logos all day aren’t going to take the time to get to know you (and it’s their loss because I bet you’re awesome). The strategy for those kinds of sites is to get the work done as quickly as possible and move onto someone else. There’s no time for understanding your business and its’ unique challenges.

Very Often, Premade Logos are Recycled and Not Unique to You

Not all, but a significant portion of the premade logo designs that you see on Etsy, and (and probably 100% of the $5 logos you’d find on other sites) will absolutely be resold – unless otherwise stated as one of a kind.

Most listings are ethical and will inform you of this fact going in. However, this is really, really bad news bears if you ever wanted to copyright your logo. And really especially bad if you want to create a unique brand identity…because other people out there have your exact logo design. Imagine your competitor buying a premade logo from the same place you did; they’ll likely confuse the two of you.

Confession time: when I first started my shop, I honestly thought this was just the way that things were done. So for a couple months with just a very few select designs, I followed suit. And I very deeply regret that. For a time I contributed to a major problem in the design world; graphic designers not being seen for their worth and the value they bring to the table. At that time I’m not sure I even understood my value, honestly.

So instead, I instituted my Unique as You Are Promise. Meaning that every single logo/branding design in my shop is unique and I will never, ever resell the designs. They will be one of a kind and unique to my clients.

And now onto the most important thing to know about recycled logos:

It Will Cost You More in the Long Run.

A $5 logo might get you through in a pinch, but not so much for the long-haul. Your brand is going to change before your eyes multiple times through. Plus, it just takes time to learn who your customer is and what appeals to them.

And when that happens, your logo and branding may be completely wrong for the person you’re trying to attract. A professional graphic designer will gladly guide you through that water, and give you a logo that works as hard as you do.

You (Probably) Won’t Receive the Source File (And it’s Going to Sting in the Long Run)

Most $5 logo designers won’t give you the source file for your logo (often times this is a .ai – Adobe Illustrator File). This is for a few reasons:

1.) You’ll have to pay significantly more to get it, or

2.) You’ll have to come back to them for design work.

So it’s an insurance policy, so to speak. Because either way, there’s more money in it for them. In essence, it creates a hostage situation for your design, which from that seller, probably isn’t even a unique design to begin with.

I beg you, please don’t go down that road.

A reputable designer will give you the source file but also charge appropriately for it. This gives you the freedom to have another designer open up your files or for print shops to make promotional materials for you. It gives you complete unfettered access to your branding. You are in complete control. And that’s the way it SHOULD be when it comes to your brand and your brand’s identity.

In Closing

So there you have it. This is my plea to you, Etsy Sellers: it absolutely does not have to be me who does it, but I implore you find a reputable designer. Your beautiful handmade business deserves a professional design.

I beg of you: find a reputable graphic designer who will take good care of you. Don’t be afraid to invest in your business.

I know that everyone has to start out somewhere; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You could evenย  make your own logo in Canva until you can afford a designer. But please, please, for the sake of your small business, don’t rely on a $5 logo.


5 thoughts on “Why Are Graphic Designers so Expensive?

  1. Lisa Smith says:

    Hi Rita,
    Great experience!
    Most graphic design projects take between 10 and 40 hours. The complexity of a project and the number of revisions needed is usually what will increase the number of hours needed to complete it. That’s why i think graphic designers are so expensive ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rita says:

      Absolutely! All of those things are big factors! I think some people (present company excluded of course) think that graphic design is as simple as slapping a picture onto a screen. But I’m sure you know there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mira028 says:

    Beautiful post. New experience ! I think Another factor that will greatly affect the final price tag is the printing cost of a project. It will vary in function of the format and size of the document, the amount to be printed as well as the quality.

    Liked by 1 person

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