5 min read

How Much Do Graphic Designers Actually Cost?

Published on
May 16, 2024
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Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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So you need graphic design support, but you’re not sure what you can actually afford. It’s difficult enough to decide on the right design option for your business. Should you hire in-house designers? Work with a freelance network or an online marketplace? Putting a number to these options can help make the decision simpler. We’re here to make your life easier in this article by breaking down the costs involved with each design support option, both from traditional routes and more modern ways to access graphic design.

If you’re here, you’re most likely considering outsourcing design. This can be a great option for plenty of businesses as a way to access new talent without incurring the risk of hiring full-time. Check out our full breakdown of what’s the right decision for your business: should I hire in-house or outsource graphic design?. But when it comes to cost, that can be difficult to to get an exact answer without spending a lot of your time researching. If you’re doing a search yourself you might find answers for a freelance graphic designer may cost anywhere between $15 and $150 per hour depending on experience, type of design, the complexity of the project etc.

We want to try and make things as simple as possible. Of course, the costs detailed in this article are not absolute and are by no means applicable to all services but are intended to give you a ballpark figure to make your search easier.

How much do graphic designers cost?

In-House Designer

Hiring in-house can be a great option for teams looking for instant support and feedback on design projects as well as a designer with exclusivity to your brand. Here’s a breakdown of costs associated with hiring in-house designers.

In April 2024, the current average wage of a graphic designer from data across the UK is £27,669 per year according to an Indeed study conducted from 4.3k salaries reported. 

That’s also…

£1,959 per month 

£506 per week 


£131 per day 

But this only covers base salary alone. If you’re employing a designer full time that means national insurance costs, pension contributions, equipment etc. In real terms, your costs could look more like this:

Base salary: £27,669

Gross pay: £2,305.75

Employers NI: £213.59 p/m 

Pension contribution (3%): £69.17 p/m

Adobe Creative Cloud: £56.98 p/m

Adobe Stock (40 images): £59.99 p/m

Project Management Tool (Asana): £20.99 p/m

Email & Cloud Storage (Google Business Standard): £10p/m

Total: £32,837.64 per year OR £2,736.47 month

When you consider the real business cost, it paints a different picture, not to mention the time commitment required to find the right designer and then onboarding them. There are also additional factors that can still impact the wage you’ll need to pay, our estimation above is based on a general average. You’ll also need to consider the following… 

Factors influencing the cost of a graphic designer

Experience and reputation

Highly experienced designers who have a strong portfolio and a proven track record of delivering exceptional results often command higher fees. Their expertise and industry knowledge make them valuable assets to a business, and their rates reflect that.

Geographic location and market rates

Designers located in metropolitan areas or regions with higher living costs may charge more compared to those in smaller towns or areas with lower market rates. For example, at the time of writing this article, the average salary of a graphic designer in London is closer to £32,306 according to Indeed based on a study of 922 salaries reported. It's essential to consider location-specific factors when budgeting for graphic design support. 

Additional costs when hiring in-house graphic designers 

Alongside the above costs, hiring graphic designers in-house will require space, equipment and software. You’ll need to provide an up-to-date PC alongside having the desk space for the designer to use it. Your designer will also need access to professional software like Photoshop, Illustrator or Figma which can be paid on a monthly subscription. For the best possible graphic design work, your designer will need access to professional-quality stock imagery from a site like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock. 

It's also important to factor in the expenses associated with recruitment, benefits, and training when considering this option.

Freelance graphic designers

Freelance graphic designers are independent professionals who work on a project-to-project basis. Hiring a freelance designer offers flexibility, as you can engage them as and when required. Working with freelancers can be great for one-off projects like help with a new landing page design or to help with designing a logo for your brand.  

Freelancers often have a diverse portfolio and many offer competitive rates. However, it's crucial to thoroughly review their work and check client testimonials to ensure they possess the necessary skills and reliability to deliver the desired results. 

Making sure you find the perfect fit for a freelance designer can take some time, and then you’ll also need to make sure that they have the availability you need to deliver the level of support you’re looking for. Most freelancers work with multiple clients and have a very busy schedule, meaning that day-to-day design support is harder to find. Another consideration when hiring freelance designers is that revisions and amends are often limited and can may lead to additional costs. 

The current cost of a freelance graphic designer, according to Indeed on a study of 185 salaries reported, is £262 per day or £25.39 per hour.

And according to Upwork, graphic designers listed on their site cost between ‘$15 (~£11.85) to $150 (~£118.46) an hour, with an average rate of around $25 (~£19.74) per hour.’ 

The price of hiring a freelance designer is always heavily influenced by the experience and expertise they offer. Freelance designers with a large portfolio and high level of skill will charge higher hourly rates, whereas you may be able to hire a less experienced freelance designer for lower rates. 

Graphic design agencies

Graphic design agencies are companies that specialise in providing end-to-end design solutions for businesses. They typically have a team of graphic designers with expertise in various design disciplines. Opting for a design agency can be beneficial if you require comprehensive design services or have larger-scale projects. For example, you may want to use a design agency for projects like full rebrands from brainstorming how your logo will look to getting the final draft. However, agencies may have higher fees due to overhead costs and additional services they offer.

Every design agency will charge different fees for different projects, for example, a full branding project will likely cost more than a simple set of social media post designs. According to however, in the United Kingdom, the average cost per hour to work with a design company is around $150 - $199. 

Unlimited graphic design subscription service

Unlimited graphic design subscription plans are an option that are growing in popularity with all sizes of businesses, from small startups to large established companies. Design subscription services are not the best option for those with small one-off design projects, but are better suited for those with ongoing design needs whether low or high volume.

Unlimited graphic design subscription services offer a hybrid solution between hiring in-house and working with third-party graphic design support.  With Design Cloud, you just pay one monthly subscription fee and get teamed up with the right level of design support you need from dedicated designers every day of the business week. 

You can choose to work with one dedicated designer or a team of designers, and scale up or down as you need to. Since you’re assigned a dedicated designer, you will be working with the same designer every day which contributes to smoother and easier collaboration over time, just like if you’d hired a designer in-house. With this option, you won’t need to consider any of the costs associated with hiring in-house like recruitment, equipment or software. We provide everything the designer needs, and you just pay the one flat rate monthly fee. 

Design Cloud prices vary depending on the complexity and volume of the work you need, meaning that there is a plan suitable for every design demand. The plans range from £599pm for simple day-to-day design support to £999 per month for more complex design projects. 

At the time of this article, Design Cloud plans start at £599 per month which works out at £149 per week - making them a significantly more cost-effective method of accessing this level of professional design support. 

Which is right for you?

When comparing design support options, there is clearly a lot to consider. Here are some questions that can help you to make the right choice. 

1. What kind of work do you need?

Different design options offer different design scopes. For example, a design agency is best placed for large projects such as a complete rebrand, especially when you’re looking for your service provider to give you creative ideas on where they can take your brand. Freelancers are better placed for short-term or one-off projects. And finally, unlimited graphic design subscription plans are best placed to help you access affordable design on an ongoing basis, ideal for day-to-day design work.

2. What is the budget?

Your choice of design support will need to be planned around your specific budget, however budgeting for professional design support is a must in today's busy digital landscape. 

In-house graphic designers or graphic design agencies are slightly less affordable than other options but have their own unique benefits, whereas working with freelance designers can be more affordable but harder to scale in the future when design demand increases. Unlimited design subscription plans tend to be more flexible and a lower cost, and as with Design Cloud, they can easily be modified to suit your budget at every growth phase of your business.

3. How much control do you want?

If the most important factor in your design support is to be able to talk with a designer in real-time and in the office, hiring in-house will likely be the option for you. Unlimited graphic design subscription plans with Design Cloud offer a hybrid solution with real-time slack communication and daily design support from a dedicated designer that won’t change. 

Design agencies and freelance designers will regularly update you on the process of a project. The level of control that your team need will be an important factor in making the right choice for your team. 

Also consider how much creative control you need. Agencies are often happy to flesh out rough ideas without comprehensive briefs. Freelancers may also be happy to take charge creatively, but this could risk brand inconsistency as you expand design support in the future. Design subscriptions plans are best suited to those happy to provide a detailed brief and who have a strong set of brand guidelines already in place. 

4. Will you need to scale work?

If you’re likely going to need to continue to scale content production, remember to make sure that the option you choose is future-proofed for your business. Will you have space and budget to expand a design team in the office? How would multiple freelancers be able to communicate in a smooth way and could they collaborate on projects in future? With Design Cloud, you can add designers to your plan on the months you need them so you can access a completely tailor-made design team. 

How to budget for a graphic designer

Setting realistic expectations

When budgeting for a graphic designer, it's crucial to set realistic expectations regarding the scope of work and desired outcomes. Clearly define your design requirements and objectives, taking into account the complexity and scale of the project. This will help you accurately assess the time and resources required and ensure that your budget aligns with the desired deliverables.

Allocating funds for design work

When allocating funds for design work, consider the value that well-executed graphic design can bring to your business. Evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI) that effective design can generate, such as increased brand recognition, customer engagement, and sales. Allocating a reasonable portion of your marketing budget towards graphic design can help you achieve impactful and professional design outcomes that contribute to your business growth.

Understanding the return on investment

While the cost of hiring a graphic designer is an investment for your business, it's crucial to understand the return on that investment. Track and evaluate the outcomes of design projects, such as the impact on brand perception, customer engagement metrics, and conversion rates. By analysing the ROI, you can assess the effectiveness of design efforts and make informed decisions when planning future design budgets.

In conclusion, the cost of hiring a graphic designer can vary based on factors such as their experience, the complexity of the project, and their geographic location. It’s best to consider your specific design needs, budget constraints, and the potential return on investment when making a decision. Regardless of your choice, partnering with a talented and skilled graphic designer can really enhance your brand's visual presence and contribute to your overall business success.

Want to learn more about unlimited design subscription plans? Book a demo here for a walkthrough of Design Cloud and how it could work for your team.

Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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Need help with design work?

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