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If you offer your design services on a freelance basis for long enough, you’re eventually going to run into a situation where a friend or family member wants you to design something for them. Knowing how much to charge a friend for a logo is a tricky conundrum, and it’s something I’ve been through myself. In this post I’m going to attempt to provide some clarity about how you and your friend(s) should approach this.
How Much To Charge A Friend For A Logo
Deciding how much to charge a friend for a logo design is tricky because on one hand it may not feel right making money off of friends and family, but on the other hand, your time is the product you sell, so the time you spend doing free work equates to lost opportunities.
After dissecting this to death, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s 3 different approaches you can take when deciding how much to charge a friend for a logo. And it’s usually best to offer these 3 options to them so they can decide for themselves…
Option 1: Free
You can make the determination that you are not in business to profit from your friends and offer to design their logo for free.
The upside is that it costs them nothing. You’re doing them a favor, and if they’re a good friend they’ll repay that favor to you sometime in the future.
The downside is that since you have a business to run, and your time is the product you sell, you’ll have to prioritize your paying clients first.
You’ll only be able to work on their logo in your free time, meaning they’ll have to wait a while before it’s completed. And since it’s unpaid work being done in your free time, you’re probably not going to give it that 110% effort that you’d normally give to a paying client. You’re probably not going to do any of the deep research you normally would and explore every possible angle.
The trade off with getting a free logo is that they’ll have to settle for a standard logo in due time.
Option 2: Charge Full Price
Maybe your friend’s logo needs are more urgent and they want the full client experience. You can give them the full client experience by simply charging them full price and putting your best foot forward as you would with any other logo project.
The upside is that you’re being compensated for your time, and your friend can have the peace of mind of knowing that they’re supporting you in your business endeavors. And if you’re a good friend yourself, you’ll do the same for them at some point in the future.
It might feel weird to charge a friend full price for a logo design, and they might even protest the idea, but a good friend will have enough empathy to understand that your time is valuable and you have to provide a livelihood for yourself like everyone else does.
If I wanted to hire a friend to do work for me, not only would I pay full price, but I’d throw a little extra their way because I want to see them succeed and that’s what friends do. Friends support each other; not exploit each other for free stuff.
Option 3: Barter
Finally, you can create a logo for them in exchange for their own services. What does your friend do? What can they do? Can they fix your car? Can they give you X number of haircuts at their barber shop, or give you X amount of sandwiches at their restaurant?
Personally, I don’t always have to be compensated with money. I’ll gladly accept payment with things I would’ve bought with that money anyway. The value has to match up though. A $10 sandwich in exchange for a $500 design service is a pretty raw deal.
This has all of the same pros and cons of charging full price. The only difference is you’re transacting in services rendered rather than money.
What Not To Do
One approach I wouldn’t recommend is doing the work at a discounted rate.
Working for a discount when you’re a freelancer is usually a mistake because, as someone who sells their time for a living, you’re basically accepting less than what it’s worth, which is going to be discouraging.
I’ve accepted pitches for discounted work in the past and I’ve always regretted it. I admittedly cut corners and didn’t put forth that 110% effort because I didn’t feel like I was being paid what I’m worth. I just wanted to rush through the project and get it done so I could focus on the clients who were paying full price.
This is a not a situation you want to put yourself in with a friend or family member. If a friend is going to pay you for a logo design, they’re going to be expecting the full client experience and your best effort, even if it’s at a discounted rate. If they want to get the same priority and effort a typical paying client would get, it’s not unreasonable for them pay full price for it.
Your time is not a commodity. It’s not something that can be repackaged and put back on a shelf, or mass-produced in bulk for savings. It’s a finite supply, and once it’s gone, that’s it. It’s gone. So if you’re going to sell your time, do it right. Sell it only for what it’s worth and accept no less.
Let Them Decide
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to determine how much to charge a friend for a logo design is to simply present them with the 3 aforementioned options and let them decide what best fits their needs. You can even send them a link to this post if you think it would help them better understand where you’re coming from. What matters most is that you’re both on the same page and you both define your expectations of each other before getting started.
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I have found a happier place than doing it for free. I charge a nominal fee and request some barter if possible as I find that people who get something for free don’t respect it as much, even if it’s not the full price. It’s not a discount but an honorarium.
I also ask for testimonials and promotional shout outs where they use my work.