If you’re a product designer or engineer, chances are that side projects have come up on occasion and just like any other design discipline that goes into freelance-land, requires some know-how in regards to accounting and best business practices.

Unfortunately, a lot of design and engineering schools depend on students to ‘figure it out’ on their own without giving them any sort of a guideline for what to charge, how long a project should take and ultimately…is it even worth your time?

As long as the project comes off as interesting and is beneficial (either financially or for your experience…or both), there are usually few reasons to turn anything down unless it interferes with other time commitments with your ‘real’ job or family life. But how do you know that you’re getting paid what’s fair for your time and expertise? In any case, the goal of freelance design work should be to focus on your product rather than your accounting and ultimately, hold on to clients for future work down the road.

“A potential client wants a proposal for a design project? Awesome. Answer 5 questions, and know how much to charge to make this project profitable.”

Thankfully, the freelancer-friendly resource site nuSchool has setup a handy general project estimator that takes multiple factors into account including how interested you are in the project as well as the size of the client…which can result in drastically different project estimates.


The intelligent pricing engine calculates your “break-even” price by multiplying your hourly rate (which you can also source based on your discipline) with your estimated hours. Whatever this number equates to is your base rate that translates to neither losing money or making money…it’s a neutral number.


Once this number is established, the calculator raises your base rate depending on how important the client is and how much of an impact it will have on your portfolio and life, among other factors—all in just 5 questions.


While any tool such as this should be used as a ‘generalizer’ based on your own unique situation, it’s nice to know that it’s there for quick referencing for yourself or if you’re considering hiring a freelancer to help with your own work.

Check it out for yourself here.