Creative directors are amongst the most coveted individuals in the creative industries. They are generally recognised as kings and queens of their respective fields – masters of all trades that can wield relationships as confidently as they wield fresh ideas.
For many smaller agencies and brands, however, it can be hard to find the right creative director for your project, and you don't want to waste time and money on someone who isn’t a good fit. Hiring the wrong creative director can be a costly mistake; they may not have the skills or experience you need, or they may not be able to meet your deadlines – costing you even further.
As such, many boutique agencies and up-and-coming companies decide instead to bring in a freelance creative director to oversee particularly important projects. But while these top guns for hire might have chosen to live a more nomadic existence, their expertise comes at a price. So, if you’re a creative director stepping into the freelance ring for the first time, just how much should you be charging?
Freelance creative director rates
Of course, a creative director's charge rate is always going to be based on many factors and can range from £500 for a project on the low end to as high as £10,000+ per project/per day if you’re talking about superstar CDs. The total cost always depends entirely on the scope of work, if freelance or onsite requirements, what type of project, service, or creative direction is needed.
Most top creative directors will need to look at the whole scope of work, set the terms, and determine their value based on their current rate and these factors. For example, if the client wants a brand, strategy, video, and design work, if they need other people and finishing the work is more than just one on-site day, it could go higher.
There’s no definitive answer on freelance creative director charges, but to give you some idea:-
An average freelance creative director earns around £80,000/$90,000 a year (£38/$43 an hour) depending on frequency of work. The average day rate for a freelance creative director, meanwhile, is around £400/$450. Of course, this means that most freelancers are not working 365 days a year.
These are the kind of figures you want to be considering if you want to be taken seriously as a freelance creative director and carve out a freelance career for yourself, but they are by no means set in stone.
Learn by doing
The best way to figure out your rates is to get out there and manage a few projects. Get a feel for your work rate, how you manage to juggle clients and what your schedule is like in a typical week or month. Remember that creative director jobs are always evolving.
And don’t be afraid to reach out to one of the hundreds of creative directors on Creativepool for advice. One thing about creatives is that they are very rarely above giving advice when asked. We’re a giving sort like that.
Header image by Ben the Illustrator