How much would you charge for a font?

anonymous's picture

a client has asked me to quote them for a custom font...what's the going rate for this?

John Hudson's picture

I never quote on a custom job without first asking the client a lot of questions, including:

1. What format will the font be? If TrueType, what level of hinting is desired for screen readability?

2. How large will the character/glyph set be?* [Clients sometimes can't answer this question, so I ask what languages they need to support; then I provide a suggested character/glyph set based on their needs.]

3. Does the client want to retain exclusive use of the font? For how long? If you will eventually be able to license the font to others, what restrictions might apply (e.g. I have made fonts for software companies who were content to let me sell the fonts to anyone except companies making similar products to their own).

* I almost always base a quote on a glyph count. I make a spreadsheet in which I list all the glyphs that will be included in the font, and then I note how many are base glyphs and how many are composites. This provides me with an accurate count on which to quote per glyph design and hinting costs. Things like kerning and OpenType feature development can't be dealt with in the same way, of course, and need to be added on top of the per glyph costs, but this approach will give you a solid justification for your quote, and will also reduce the likelihood that you will underquote.

jfp's picture

Price per glyph is good idea, but only in context of large sets, such ones John Hudson do generally. For me, generally I stick with the usual 256, in several weights.

What is important to me is:
Does the still will be more like a complicate stuff, such Copperplate (extrem) or basis Sanserif.

A basic sans is more easy to design generally, compared to the copperplate where each cap is quite different, same if you have connections in case of handwriting emulation.

I hope you see my point.

I generally charge 10/20% for a preview of the font, the first Creative step, with several proposals generally. Then, if the client accept the concept, we go to more big budget in more secure way and trust.

jfp's picture

Trudy Scrumptious: Pretty clear explanation, I agree with it.

hrant's picture

One very big factor is this: how much money they have!
I don't charge Disney and the Armenian Yellow Pages
the same prices, and they both tacitly understand.


hrant's picture

Aaah, the distinct smell of a middle-aged whiteboy - the demographic I consistently irritate the most!
Roman swords indeed. But of course they're extinct now.


anonymous's picture

your right. thanks for that

anonymous's picture

wow...good points i hadnt thought of..thanks

anonymous's picture

Did you ever make a font before?

If not, $.50 a glyph.

If you did, and you're actually pretty good, then maybe $100/glyph.

But, the reality is, it's very variable - for a start, are you really designing, or are you adapting something else? Are the character forms complex or simple. Can the work be automated in any way... and that's just digitizing the outlines.

Do they need hinting - if you haven't done that before then don't start now.

anonymous's picture

good idea, i like that. i have produced about 10 fonts and been using fontographer about 4 years, i have produced two custom fonts for Levi's (jeans) before but that was whilst i worked for an agency...

anonymous's picture

Essentially, though JFP says differently, I'd just treat it like piece work - ie cost per glyph. If you reduce it to that level, whether you're doing ten characters or 1,000, you know where you're at.

What you have to think about is what everyone has said above - what are the tasks you need to complete, how complex are the characters...

Once you have some answers, then you can think about how long each character will take, and how much you want to be paid per hour. If you say you have 100 characters to do, and they average an hour each, then multiply your hourly rate up 100 times.

So, you're up to $50 now. :-)

You may think that for two weeks work you'll settle for $35, or you may think you really need $75 - tha's your choice.

What you also have to bear in mind is how much running around you may have to do, besides just drawing the characters. This could add 50% to the job.

The figures above are just things to think about - designing, drawing, spacing and kerning could take a day per character or more. Just scale it to where you think it fits your skills and the job at hand.

anonymous's picture

Hey, way cool, agreement! I didn't mean to imply you were wrong in saying per glyph only works with large sets. I suppose it's more that if you sit down and quantify properly what you're going to do, then it's much easier to extrapolate the price.

A good starting point, IMO, is the number of characters you need to do. Then other items become quite apparent.

Even if you buy oranges by the kilo you're more interested in how many you get than anything else - so a couple of big oranges costs the same as several small ones...

Er. :-)

anonymous's picture

Hrant's of course right on this.

Way overquote for the Armenian Yellow Pages, because you really don't want the job in the first place. If you're unfortunate enough to "win" the job you'll now appreciate the extra padding you gave yourself because they''ll now do their best to beat you down on the price you quoted and which they agreed.

So you haggle a little.

Then do the job, but be prepared for them changing their minds mid-stream, but blaming you for putting lies into their mouths - again your overquoting will help you stand the aggravation factor.

When you've finished the job be prepared for them coming back *forever* asking for "little" changes, and not wanting to pay!

When you eventually say "no more" they'll brand you a cog in the imperialist war machine destroying the world and its free-minded peoples.

They just might be right, but either way they'll always get the last word!

anonymous's picture

Surely you mean "imitate"?

Diner's picture

It's not that easy - It's always quoted on several variables like how complete is the font, does the client retain exclusivity to the face? For how long? Can you resell it?

Start at $2,500 and add accordingly unless they want to buy it outright which you should charge at least 2 to 3 times the price since you won't be receiving any future income from the typeface.

Stuart :D

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