[Infographic] Design Pricing Models: Which is Right for the Project You’re Outsourcing?


Outsourcing creative work, including graphic design projects, have become popular over the last few years, and for a good reason. Clients can now get quality work at a quick rate for just about any project. It saves time, cost, and fosters inter-business relationships. It’s a win-win.


Besides looking at their portfolio, pricing is one of the most crucial factors you will have to consider before hiring an agency. Most agencies offer various pricing models, which is standard industry practice. It creates options for clients as they identify what works best with their budget. At the same time, it allows agencies to market different services in a highly competitive business landscape.


Some of the most common types of pricing are hourly, project-based, retainer, and dedicated staff, to name a few. But how do you know if the price is right? Scroll down below for a crash course.



4 Different Types of Design Pricing Models

Hourly Pricing

Hourly pricing is the most common type of model and is also the simplest. An agency will charge you for the time spent they worked on your project, measured by the hour. For example, if the hourly rate set by the agency is $65 and they worked for five hours, the total billable amount is $325.


With this model, revisions and additional work can be easily charged as additional hours spent. It gives clients the flexibility to change the scope of work as the project goes. Many clients like the transparency the hourly pricing model gives. They will be provided a quote that estimates how long the initial output usually takes. If approved at first pass, the client is only charged for the actual time spent – if the project is quoted at two hours and it is only done at 1.75 hours, then you will only pay for 1.75 hours.



As its name suggests, project-based rates are flat fees charged to the client for a specific deliverable. For instance, if you want to have a flyer made and they tell you that it costs $125, that’s all you will have to pay as long as it’s within bounds of the contract. It’s straightforward and upfront, which is great if you have a strict budget for your project. The project-based rate is also inclusive of revisions, so you don’t have to worry about going over budget with revisions, which can sometimes be the case for hourly pricing.


Projects with a clear scope of work and deliverables are suitable for this pricing model; any changes or new requirements not covered by the contract will be reassessed and will have a new quote. There can also be moments where it can be used in tandem with hourly pricing. An example is your project has reached its maximum revision quota. You may be charged on top of the flat fee to accommodate changes, depending on your private agreement with the agency.



Working with an agency under a retainer pricing model means that you agree to a pre-negotiated and pre-billed fee for either a set amount of time or a fixed amount of deliverables.


Time-based retainers mean that you would have to purchase a set number of hours a month for the agency to work on your deliverables. For example, if you buy 50 hours per month at a $150/hour scheme, your monthly retainer fee would be $7,500. The choice is yours if you want the agency to consume all hours every month or allow them to roll-over unused hours to the following month.


Basing it on deliverables operates the same way as project-based pricing, but you negotiate for the fees in bulk. Let’s say you want 15 graphics for social media posts for $7,500. That’s how much you’ll be paying per month.


Whichever you choose, retainers are suitable if you want fixed monthly billing and have a large budget to experiment with.


Dedicated Staff

The dedicated staff option is similar to having an outsourced team with your agency. This will allow you to have outsourced talents that will only work on your projects as if they are employed under your company. It allows for more flexibility, creative collaboration, and controlled cost for the services you need. Instead of paying for the output, you are paying for the talent of the dedicated staff member(s) you want under your wing.


This works best for long-term projects where requirements and scope will change frequently, and you’re looking to grow your business with the help of outsourcing. This model will require long distance management, so make sure you research on tips to make sure you and your dedicated team can communicate about tasks frequently.


The Price is Right

You are now equipped with the knowledge to determine which pricing models to consider for your graphic design project. Keep in mind that some projects work for a particular model better than others. It helps to be transparent with your outsourcing partner regarding your expectations about the whole project, including the costing.


If you’re still on the hunt for a creative agency that can meet your needs, your search is over. MicroCreatives offers flexible pricing models that work for you. Contact us today, and let’s discuss how our creative services can elevate your business.