Reader Question: Commercial font licenses

When should I buy a commercial font license? From

Laura said,

My question is about commercial use fonts. I have recently started designing layouts for a few people but I find that commercial fonts are normally $15 a pop! How do you determine when to spend that kind of money on a font? Do you only pick up fonts you absolutely love and believe you will use often? Do you give clients options for fonts then pay for whichever one they pick?

Thanks for the questions Laura! I hate to say it, but $15 is actually pretty cheap for a commercial license. is my go-to source for fonts and I tend to love the ones that range from $50 to $100.

Generally I give the client a few options including some free fonts and then buy the commercial license (if necessary) myself for whatever they choose. I only give them options for paid fonts that I would actually like to add to my collection.

If they bring me a font I don’t have interest in buying I’ll let them know they will be responsible for purchasing the license. And if the client wants to have a copy of the font for their own use they will need to purchase a license in that case as well.

I would also recommend not purchasing the license until the design is installed and you have been paid. Every once in a while someone changes their mind at the last minute or does the ever-annoying disappearing act and you’re stuck with a font you didn’t reaaally intend to buy in the first place.

Now what if you’re using the font for something other than client design work? What if you’re using a font on your blog that makes only $10/month on ad revenue or affiliate links. Do you need a commercial license? (yes)

How to know if you should be buying a commercial license:

You’ll need a commercial license if…

  • You’re purchasing the font to design a product or packaging for a product that will be sold – blog templates, apps, t-shirts, books, etc.
  • You’re creating a company logo
  • You’re designing marketing or promotional materials for a business or an event that charges admission – business cards, flyers, posters, billboards, etc.

You shouldn’t need to purchase a commercial license if…

  • You’re designing graphics for a personal, not-for-profit blog
  • You’re creating a personal items to be displayed or given away – a birthday card or invitations

It’s always a good idea to read the End User License Agreement (EULA) that comes with any font to understand what you can and cannot do with a font. And of course, if you’re still confused, but love love love a font, you can always email the designer.

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  1. says

    Thank you so much for answering my question! I have definitely started finding fonts much more expensive, but I understand how much work has to be put in to creating fonts. I find I fall in love with waaaay too many fonts (seriously, I could look for days), but your post has helped a lot!