Choosing Your Design Rate

Hiring a Creative Professional

Let’s say you needed to hire a person to handle your brand marketing and promotional efforts that might include campaign planning and strategy, graphic design, production, and publishing. Now, keep in mind, the most successful brands have entire teams of communications specialists to pump this out. But you can afford just one person.

Since hiring an in-house team of marketing communication and design specialists is not financially feasible, let’s take a look at what it would cost to hire one person.

The Cost of Hiring One

Let’s say that one in-house design person can expect to work about 6 productive hours per day (and let’s be real, 6 productive hours is generous). The rest of the workday is spent on various admin duties, responding to emails, professional development, etc. Then, if we factor in very important things (such as paid time off for holidays, vacations, and sick time), one person equates to roughly 1,560 billable hours per year.

According to, a creative director in the United States makes $125k on average per year, as of April 27, 2021. Please keep in mind, this statistic does not account for years of experience, specializations, or cost of living fluctuations. A 2019 study from the professional association for design, AIGA, found that c-suite level designers make $134k on average. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with a $125k salary.

So, if we take our annual salary ($125,000), divided by the number of billable hours per year (1,560), the fair market billable rate for a creative director is $80 per hour.

Okay, now we’ve got some guidelines. Now, we can make informed decisions. “But Kelly,” you may be asking, “what if I legitimately can’t afford $80 per hour?” I hear ya. That’s why LBC gives you the opportunity to choose your design rate. It’s kind of like operating on a sliding scale.

Because the honest to goodness truth is, our mission is to do good work for good people. We love helping brands connect their products and/or services with audiences who could benefit from what they have to offer. If you have that thing, let’s chat. If we’re the right fit for each other, we’ll make the budget work.

Kelly Strine

Kelly Strine is the founder of Left-brained Creative, a brand marketing and graphic design firm dedicated to partnering with small businesses and nonprofits who are working toward creating positive social change. If you have a project you want to team up on, let’s chat!

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