One of the great things about being a freelancer (besides not having set hours, being your own boss, and sometimes working in your pajamas) is that you get to set your own rates.
It can also be one of the more difficult things about being a freelancer. You don’t want to charge too low a fee, or you won’t make enough money and people might not think you’re very good at what you do. On the other hand, you don’t want to have the most expensive rate either as you might get looked over for a more budget-friendly option. It’s kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – you want your rate to be “just right.”
Here are 5 factors to consider to come up with the perfect number.
1. What’s the Market Rate for Your Work?
One of the first things you need to do is research the market rate for the kind of work you do. Find out, generally, what other freelancers in your field are getting. You can also find out what companies and web sites are paying. Many freelancers are reluctant to give a straight up dollar amount, but you might be able to get a range.
You should also be aware of whether your freelance industry charges by the hour, or uses some other rate. Graphic designers, for example, often charge by the hour, or by the project. Freelance bloggers are often paid by the post (depending on the word count). Knowing the going market rate per unit of work performed is an important part of setting your rates.
Also realize that the rate might be different in your niche, and from different sites. In the personal finance blogging space, I’ve found that a big name site can pay a lot more than a blog run by someone with a day job. Take that into consideration when quoting a price.
2. How Much Experience and Training Do You Have?
Also, consider your experience and training. A few years ago, I felt lucky to be paid $5 to $10 for a post. But, not only has the market for bloggers grown, but my experience has also increased my worth. I make more than that per post now. Greater experience leads to higher pay. The longer you have been doing what you’re doing, the more you can command. Additionally, if you have been with one client for a while, your long experience might warrant a raise – especially if you can show that you have added value for the client.
Your training also makes a difference. Someone with the right background and expertise can make more as a freelancer than another person who may not have the same credentials. I may not be a financial professional, but my long experience and research in the field has helped. Plus, my training as a journalist has provided me with research, interview, and writing skills that some find valuable.
3. Quality of Your Work
If your work is riddled with grammatical errors (beyond the occasional typo), you will have a hard time asking a higher rate as a freelance writer. A freelance graphic designer whose work looks fast and cluttered will not be paid as highly as someone with crisp, professional work. Pay attention to the quality of work; if you want to ask for more, do what you can to improve it. This might include taking classes, taking more time on each project, or just practicing.
4. Other Forms of Compensation
Sometimes, compensation comes in more than just a per-unit rate. I am sometimes willing to negotiate a lower per-post rate if I am offered a traffic bonus, or if there is a revenue sharing plan in place. One of my clients lets me keep everything I earn from AdSense, in addition to a flat per-post rate. Consider what else is being offered, and negotiate based on that. If you are being offered a travel account, or if you have the potential to earn more based on traffic and other factors, it might be worth it to take slightly lower up-front pay.
5. Exposure You Offer
Finally, consider the type of exposure someone can get when they hire you. Are you a top user on a niche social media site? Tip’d may not offer awesome traffic, but someone who hires me knows that when I submit something to Tip’d it will likely make the front page (and provide a do-follow link). Consider your Twitter followers, and your other social media presences. You can also factor in your connections with others in your industry when deciding how to set rates for your freelance services.
After taking all these factors into consideration, you should be able to set a general range for your freelance services, and then you can negotiate on a per-client basis based on that. Do you have tips for setting freelance rates? Please share them below.