When I started freelancing full-time, figuring out how much I should charge clients was one of the biggest obstacles. If you price yourself too low, you risk missing out on possible income, but if you price yourself too high, you risk missing out on the whole opportunity. It seemed like there was no “right” answer. Luckily, I’ve done this dance a few times now and I’m going to share everything I’ve learned with you. While figuring out how much you’re worth can be daunting, with the right research and proper planning it’s easy to get what you deserve.
1. Do Your Research
Just as you never want to walk into an interview unprepared, you want to show up to any calls with prospective employers knowing exactly what you’re worth. Google is a great place to start. Get as much information as you can on what people doing your line of work charge. You’ll want to consider the following:
- Location: Standard pay may fluctuate depending on where you live, especially if you live in a city with a high cost of living.
- Industry: Certain industries charge more than others. If you have a more specific skill, you may be able to charge more. Make sure to use industry-related keywords in your search to find accurate information about your industry.
- Experience: Is this your first role or have you done this job multiple times before? More experience usually warrants more money.
- Qualifications: Do you have a certification or degree in a specific area? If so you may be able to charge more.
2. Leverage Your Network For Help
While the internet is a great resource, it’s also worth reaching out to friends, family, and coworkers who have experience hiring freelancers or freelancing themselves. If they’ve hired freelancers, how much did they charge? Did they think this rate was standard, too high or too low?
If they’ve freelanced themselves, how much do they charge? What other unforeseen expenses have they run into? Any information is valuable and can help inform your own decisions moving forward.
3. Consider Your Lifestyle
Whether you’re freelancing full-time or as a side gig, you’ll want to think about how much you want to make. Set a goal. Then, consider how much you’ll need to make to get there. Remember, when you’re freelancing you’re responsible for self-employment taxes and a slew of other expenses, like insurance, that you don’t have to worry about when you have a full-time employer. With all of these things considered, how much do you need to cover your expenses and reach your goals?
4. Consider The Big Picture
Set a goal for what you want to get out of your freelancing experience. Are you trying to grow your client base or really just focused on making a certain amount of money? If it’s the former, you may want to take a job a bit below your usual rate to get more experience. Being flexible with rates can help you build your client base and take on more work that may be beneficial to your portfolio. Your goals can always evolve, but having one top of mind helps you step back and remember what you actually want to get out of your freelance experience at large. Ultimately, that will help you decide what’s worth taking on and when it’s time to say no to a gig.
5. Figure Out How You Want To Get Paid
There are two main ways to get paid when freelancing: hourly rate or project-based rate. A project-based rate could be a lump sum or a monthly-retainer; there are many different ways to go about this. Both payment models have pros and cons. Be sure to do your industry research and see if one model is more common in your field. Other than that, which you choose is really a matter of preference. You can also use both models depending on your clients’ preferences. Even if you prefer retainer projects, some clients may insist you go hourly and there may be no flexibility there. So, get comfortable with both models.
6. Know Your Worth
Working on your own comes with a lot of hiccups, so being flexible is so important to your success as a freelancer. But, don’t sell yourself short. If you get an offer you’re not comfortable with, go back to the table with a counteroffer. Brush up on those negotiation skills and be confident in your abilities.
Hopefully now you have a better sense of what to ask for. Time to get that bread!