Providing Source files to clients


Hi everyone,
I know when you sell an item here, you provide all the source files with it and the prices items are sold at are really low as they are meant for selling multiple times.

I designed a few flyers for a client and priced them below $50. The work was not cheap either. I kept all the basics of design and spacing in mind. Moreover, I also told the client that I could modify the flyer again for them whenever they needed and that won’t cost them anything. But they want me to give out the source files too. The whole PSD and everything. I know they have a graphic design department and my file will be used in several other projects that I have not been paid for and will not be paid. I politely explained to them that I can provide you any changes that you need free of cost but they got upset. I have given source files to another client before and couldn’t even make $40 from that project.

I know the prices that I’ve mentioned make my work seem like crap but that’s not true. I had some financial hardships and needed money so I decided to go low. But giving source files away will completely finish me off. What would you do in such a situation? Give the sources? I only give out 300 DPI print ready proofs.


It a hard one when you starting out, I have very strict rules and follow them to the dot as i have a busy life and have nearly all of the hours of the day planed out.

I make it clear what I will and wont do and I agree whether someone should get the source file depending on the job, you need to think are you going to get return work from them.

You have to try and keep people happy but you can only go so far other wise you would never make any money.

I always ask for 50% of the cash up front, I never budge on this as i have had jobs cancelled in the past that had had over 50 hour put into them so now i make sure to cover myself.

Give people an inch and they will take a mile!


Hi Visualspire,

Did you have a contract with your client? It should make it clear what file type/s the client is entitled to, whether print-ready only or source files as well.

If they want the source files, you could add on a charge for it, so you don’t lose out entirely. I’ve been in that situation, where clients have asked for the source files so I asked for an extra payment - no one has yet refused.

You could try just explaining to your client that the original fee was only for the print-ready file; if they really make a fuss, decide if it’s worth the hassle of negotiating with them. If it’s not worth the hassle then give them the file and put that one down to experience, and next time make sure your contract gets you a fair price.

Hope that helps,


Explain to them that you can gladly give them the source files, priced x10 for each flyer/source file.


Thanks for the replies DarkStar and Fiona

Give people an inch and they will take a mile!
True man

You’re right guys. People will try to take a mean advantage of the leverage you give them. And I’m also revising my policy about upfront payments. I used to work with 0%. But then it’s just like giving away the house. To make people happy is not easy I’d say as most will try to rip you off. And Fiona, no there wasn’t a written agreement. I started out working just like that. As for getting return work from them; ever since they started their own design department, the work I get is not frequent anymore. I know why they want the source files. They simply plan to use the flyer for other businesses that they are running and even sell the file to their clients. I don’t suppose any designer would be happy with his/her work branded with someone else’s name and all for the price of $50. :slight_smile:

aRtlessX said

Explain to them that you can gladly give them the source files, priced x10 for each flyer/source file.

wow, 10x. Man I have not seen much of this graphic design world yet. Just started working professionally 2 years ago. I didn’t know the source files could cost that much for an exclusive and custom project. I think I might be able to charge like that when I’ve spent a couple of years more in the industry :slight_smile:


If you act more professional you tend to get treated that way, I always worried about how much I charged and not charging upfront, but the more experience you get you come to realise, you need to cover your self with contracts and getting payment up front as you have to invest a lot of time.

I used to do things really cheap, and strangely I got more work when I charged more!

DarkstarDesigns said

I used to do things really cheap, and strangely I got more work when I charged more!

Great, probably it was your portfolio and the quality of it that proved to be helpful.


Great post from our local craigslisters:

It's so true. Businesses are willing to pay plumbers and mechanics $70 - $100 an hour, bookkeepers and accountants $75 - $200 an hour, Attorneys $150 - $350 an hour... but when it comes to their public brand, marketing strategies, web presence and other collateral touch points, the perceived value of paying for quality deliverable's is apparently zilch.

Ten years ago to create a compelling, high-definition video would have averaged around $1,000 per second. To design and produce a custom website with shopping carts, branding, SEO and CMS integration, break-out $20k – $150k+ depending on the complexity. Want a solid brand strategy with an ID kit (logo, letterhead, biz cards, etc.)? Small companies would pay $2k-$5k, big companies up to 100x that amount. Design and produce a four-color ad for a national or regional periodical-$2k-$5k+. Then add a 10% agency fee for media and print buys. And it was worth it.

Today, experienced design/marketing professionals, with tens of thousands of dollars invested in education, software, hardware and years of practical creative / business experience, have become little more than order takers competing against the lowest common denominator -“Cousin Vinny” who just finished a class at city college, owns a computer, and has some hacked-warez software and says he’ll do your logo and business cards for $50 and your website for $500. Of course you get what you pay for, and if your businesses marketing collateral and strategy isn’t worth much to you - well that says something too.

Fair market rates when hiring professionals expect to pay: $70 - $90 an hour for production design. Creative design / strategy $90 - $130 an hour. Billable hours are usually half of the actual working hours when including meetings and revisions - so the real gross is usually closer to half that value at the end of the day and that doesn’t include income taxes over overhead.

So in the big picture of things, your business marketing and brand strategy should be worth at least as much per hour as it is to unclog your toilet. Yes, no?

NOTE: The strike-through text is some sort of error.