Money. It’s gives our work and products value and fuels our living. But when it comes to placing a value on ourselves, how can you go about it?
As a freelancer, you are your own boss - you set your own times, set your own rates and offer your services to clients.
The tricky question arises with how do you set your own rates. There’s two sides of the story. Either you could charge too much and not receive any clients at all. Alternatively, you could charge too little, undervalue your personal assets and not get very far, financially.
So here at freelancer.com, where we specialise in joining potential employers with bidding freelancers, we have some advice on how you should go about finding the perfect rate for your work.
Understand your role.
You’re the only one that knows exactly what you can offer and the quality you bring to your client’s work. It’s right there at the tip of your fingers. Make sure you have this clear. Write down who you are, how you work and what you will do.
Do your research.
Once you know who you are, research is the perfect place to start. Part of being being a freelancer is about being your own boss. A boss is generally aware of the competition surrounding their service. Likewise, a freelancer needs to be aware of the competition offering similar skills and services. What are they charging? What is the going price for someone in a similar position? Remember how you wrote down exactly what it is you’re offering, keep this in mind. Your competition may have slightly talents to share, so your price still isn’t going to be exactly the same.
Get it right.
At this point you should know roughly where you stand both in the market and as an individual worker. So you can set your price. You have a few options for this, you can either fit into the market average (the safe option), place yourself a little higher, or lower your price. Lowering your price is not the best way to go. However, if you’re finding it difficult to get started or simply find employers, specify that it is a temporary promotion, or something along those lines. This means later down the track you can increase your prices anyway and the quality of your work will not be questioned.
Be willing to negotiate.
This does not mean sacrifice your talent. However, once you have an interested client perhaps ask them what their budget is. If they can’t actually answer this, it should raise concern. They haven’t put the right amount of consideration into their job. However, if their budget is lower than your rate, consider what you can offer them for the rate they offer. You don’t need to lower your standards, in fact you should also stick to your price, but perhaps you can offer less of your time to get what they need done.
You know who you are, but your potential employers do not. Make sure you make this clear. If you chose to place yourself a little higher than the going price, emphasise what more you can offer, how your service will provide them with the best work and best outcome. To do this right, make sure you’re clear and straight to the point. No need to boast or exaggerate, but plainly state what makes you valuable as an employee.
In the freelancer business, there is more than just your raw talent. You need to know how to persist, how to put your name out there and how to find work. As well as research and good communication skills (in your self promotion), you need to persist and involve yourself. How can you do this? In today’s world it is quite easy. You have a multitude of social media outlets available to you. Any of these can be used to showcase your work. This leads me to my next point…
You’re your own complete business.
This is something you shouldn’t forget. A previous job, with an annual pay rate is not the same as a freelancer. As you’ve seen, you’re taking on board your own research, marketing your content, actively searching out employment and handling your life. This is basically three different jobs in one. Once you have an employer they will most likely pay you for the production of their task, either based on the hours you worked or the quality you produced. However, when you place your rates, keep in mind all the other work you had to do in order to reach the job you now have.
Now that you’ve done the work, seen where you stand in the freelancer business you have successfully set an appropriate price. But how do you ensure that you can keep this price and not fall into the hole of lowering your standards.
Establish the expectations.
This is applicable both for yourself and your client. Before you even start on the project make this clear. From your end, you need to provide your client with the details of your work - how long you expect to work on their project, what your rate is and any other details applicable to this particular task. Likewise your employer should establish their expectations. You can’t be expected to deliver good quality if you’re not sure what they’re after.
Keep it professional.
Unlike a previous job where your rates have already been set, in freelancing, you’ve been your own boss and set your rates yourself. So now act like a professional CEO. You don’t need to think that you can doing a favour for a client, but you’re working for them and delivering quality work. So establish a work based relationship with them as you establish your expectations and don’t feel bad about asking for your going rate. This also means, don’t feel bad chasing them up for forgotten payments, misunderstandings or loss of contact. In fact if you can’t hear from them, straight up state that your service will be discontinued until further action is take.
Have a contract.
This lays everything down on paper. It’s permanent. Later down the track, if an issue arises, you can turn back to what was previously established. However, changes are inevitable and in the case of a change in work or service, outline how you would like to be treated in this case, both in terms of communication and financial support. So at the beginning of your work with them, send them a contract to sign and return. This emphasises your professional nature, provides you with self protection and gives you legal proof if an issues arises or payment doesn’t come through.
Make it easy to receive payment.
Apart from the fact that you love what you’re doing, you want to receive the money. Make this process easy both for yourself and your new client. This means having various methods of receiving the money - paypal, online bank transfers, acceptance of credit card payments etc. Keep an open mind.
So you’re all set. To leave on a positive note - you’re 100% worth it. Be yourself, set your own time schedule and rates, and do what you love.