As a professional graphic designer based in Essex, I often source print for my clients and on occasion a new customer will approach me for a print design and ask “How much do you charge for flyer print?”
In many cases people have never ordered print design from a print design company before and have no idea as to how design services or print pricing works. Like most things you buy, quality and quantity correlate with the price and swaying the specification here or there will ultimately adjust the cost.
Below is a short and basic guide as to what to think about when ordering print design:
Print Type: Digital & litho
Digital print has securely embedded itself in the print world and is favoured by print houses for short runs of print, usually 500 copies or below (short run). Digital print is cheaper and quicker for short runs of print as there’s less setup time and in turn less expense involved for the printing company. Although accurate, the finish of digital print is not as good as litho but to be honest the average Joe wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Digital print is great for a quick turnaround on a small run. If you’re planning on buying design services to have some business cards designed and printed professionally and then overprinting them through your own laser printer, remember that some digital prints are ruined when passed through a laser at a later stage.
For a longer print run of 500 or above a litho print process is used. Litho is ultimately cheaper when printing a large quantity and the longer setup process is justified.
There are many more pros and cons for specifically using each process which are dependant on the individual job.
Usually each individual print house will determine and setup the options available for you, so you don’t have to worry too much about the processes if it’s an everyday print job.
Quantity of print:
The more printed copies you buy the better deal you can source from a print design company or professional printer. Printers usually have special offers on set items which will save you money rather then going for odd number quantities.
E.g. You may want 1000 A5 flyers, 1000 business cards and 1000 posters. This is regarded as three separate jobs. Effectively a printer may offer a special package which will be cheaper such as 500 of each for one set price.
Printing companies also use clever sales tactics to make you buy a certain quantity. For example 250 professionally design graphic flyers may cost £40.00 where as 500 may cost £45.00. Money wise it makes sense to buy the 500. This tactic revolves around the print houses pricing and processing structure. Obviously they want to sell more so offer a better deal on more but a qnty of 500 may also be their sweet spot for profit vs processing.
Ideally figure out a qauntity that you do need and try to stick with it.
Sometimes paying an extra £5.00 for another 250 flyers is a good deal but more often then not you may just be left with an extra 250 flyers that go in the bin or cost you more to post out.
Quality & Paperweight:
Quality can be determined in many ways from the professional graphic design to the print process or the finishing of a product, but one major factor is Paper Weight:
Paper weight is measured in g/sm (grams per square metre). Each document usually has a rough standard weight: e.g.
- Letterheads & comp slips 100gsm
- Business cards 300-400gsm
- Flyers – 300- 400 gsm
- Leaflets – 70 – 200 gsm
To simplify, the higher the GSM the thicker the material and the better quality the product should be. 70 gsm being very thin copy paper and 450 gsm being thick artborad (card). As the GSM rises, so will the price.
Don’t always go for the highest GSM, think about what your purpose of print design is and determine the cost effective solution.
Gloss and silk are commonly found in every print house and a printing company will usually have a paper type which they use as a standard. Some printing companies may expand on their paper stock to give you more options such as Conqueror, Ice White, Iridescent or Hammered sock but thses paper types usually cost a little more.
Using paper stock which is completely unique becomes a custom job which many printers won’t do today because paperstock has to be tried and tested through a printer to ensure it prints correctly.
This can become quiet difficult for a creative graphic designer as it creates boundaires and limitsto what they can produce for print design. Whatever is designed by the graphic designer needs a printing company who can handle the production of the design.
If you do manage to find a printer whose a little more creative, then expect the price to be at least double (see custom jobs for more details).
Print materials come in various sizes e.g. Leaflets (A4, A3 folded, A5, DL etc). The bigger the size of a particular product, the more it will cost.
A printer uses four colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black (CMYK) to create all other colours on the document. Print can be ordered in 1, 2, 3 or 4 (full colour) specific colours. The more colours used the higher the price will be.
This pricing structure above is still used but not as common. Its become a little outdated because theres more demand for full colour jobs and with the use of digital printing, full colour print prices have reduced costs so many printers now offer a full colour print as standard.
Printing on one or both sides alters the cost.
Finishing and Custom jobs:
All in all anything which is custom (not listed in a price list or not regarded as standard) will cost more. A creative graphic designer could implement all of these into yoru marketing material:
- custom shapes
- spot varnish
In most cases people don’t realize that a small customization ultimately bumps up the price due to the setup of the document, so if you want something even slightly different you will have to pay for it!
Buying 5000 flyers is cheaper then buying 2 sets of 2500 flyer designs. If you want 5000 flyers with two different designs, this will be considered as two different jobs and you will be paying for 2 x 2500 price rather then the 5000 price.
When sending a file to a professional printer they need to be print ready. This means a word document with screen shot images and text won’t suffice. You need to know how to setup a file for print, know a professional designer who can do it for you or pay the printer to do it for you in which case they will charge you for design services.
A print ready file can only be setup using design software but as a check list, print ready files in general need to be:
- CMYK colour profile
- Minimum of 300dpi
- 3mm bleed
- Type embedded or converted to outlines (or flattened)
- .PDF file setup for press
Each print house vary their service so this is a just a guide as to what to think about when ordering print. Each category above will change the final price of a print run so be specific with your print requirements and budget to source the best deal for yourself.