Pricing creative services

Below you'll see an assortment of lockups I created as a part of a branding project for IRL. Take a look.

I have a question for you.

How much do you think I charged for this project?

Got a number in your head? Ok, good.

Now let me tell you something…

I completed this project in less than 4 hours.

Knowing that, does that number in your head change? Would you scoff if I told you I charged $50,000 for this project? If so, why?


I've been designing for a while now. Brands, products, packaging, websites, you name it. I've done projects that last a week. Projects that last 12 months. I've charged $500 for logos and I've charged $50,000 for logos. I've learned a dirty little secret along the way…

There is little difference in labor between a $500 and $50,000 design project.

Value at its core is based on perception, which makes it subjective. The price you are willing to pay for my creative service is dependent on your perception of my skill, your perception of how much effort (time) I put into creating the solution, your perception of my experience, your perception of my reputation, your perception of the rarity of my service or product, quality perception, and your trust (also a perception) in my ability to deliver a solution that solves your problem. All of these factors can be influenced and even manipulated. They are all up for debate between two individuals, and you can change these perceptions, as long as you are skilled in persuasion (sales).

Bottom line, creative projects of all kinds are valued subjectively, resulting in vastly different prices for clients, but similar amounts of labor for the creative professional.

The amount of energy generated around this one specific paradox is astounding. Ask any creative friend how much time they've labored over making estimates, hoping it would fit in an unknown budget for a prospective client. I can't even begin to tell you how many awkward cat and mouse type conversations I've had, trying to extract a client's budget from their sealed lips. So much lost business. So much wasted time.

Now listen, I’ll be the first to argue that the price of my work shouldn't be based on the amount of time spent working on it. I detest hourly pricing. It penalizes expertise and efficiency. Hourly pricing makes me less money the better I get at my craft.

But unfortunately, the more pragmatic reality is that the majority of clients will have significant cognitive friction trying to justify paying for a six-figure creative project that takes less than a couple of days to execute. People most often associate value with the time it takes to create a product or service, for better or worse. This fact breaks most agencies and freelancers. Keeping them from building sustainable businesses, and forcing them to hide the true amount of effort it takes to get the work done.

Think about it. Your agency can't possibly tell you that it took one mid level designer, roughly 3 days of real, working time to create your $200,000 brand identity/website/mobile app/(sub any deliverable here).

So you get an account manager 💰
Maybe a project manager 💰
"Strategy" sessions 💰
Don't forget all those in-person meetings. My god, the meetings 💰

All of this (plus a fancy dinner or box tickets to a concert) provide a layer of fluff, to help justify the price and make you believe that creating the final deliverable is more complicated than it is.

But productized service subscriptions (like what I’m building with Unit), can fix this. If you are willing to try a new model, you can get everything I previously charged $50,000 for, in less than a month, for $5,000.

The EXACT SAME quality. No BS.

Let me show you. Sign up by clicking the free demo button on my website I can show you exactly how I lead $50,000+ projects in the past. I'll also show you how to translate that boutique process into the productized service model, getting you the same deliverables, applications, websites, etc — faster, and for a 10th of the price.

2023 - Zach Janicello

2023 - Zach Janicello