If you’re a freelancer, you’ve surely thought about this many times: how can I evaluate my job when I have a new prospect? How can I make sure I don’t lose them just because my estimate is too high? But how can I be sure I’ll earn what I feel it’s right for me?
Putting a price to your work as a freelancer is essential, at least for two reasons: first of all, it will define your value in front of your client and secondly, it will give you the power to negotiate.
But let’s be honest: failing in doing a good evaluation of what you can bring to the table and why you’re the right person for that project, can easily break your confidence and, most of all can put you in limbo. And getting out of that limbo may not be that easy.
Keep reading this guide and discover tips and advice on how much to charge for your freelance work.
Table of Contents
The main mistakes in quoting a job as a freelancer
1. Provide a quote based on brand recognition
Many freelancers choose to reduce their fees when they work with big brands, just to add a big name to their portfolio.
That’s where the system breaks: the more the brand is famous, the more they want to work with people who charge a small amount compared to the service they offer. They focus on brand recognition and they often push on this when asking for a quote. They know people want to work for them and they make every effort to reduce the price because they know they will always find someone interested in doing what they ask.
Underestimate your value just to get a big client will bring a lot of frustration as soon as you’ll realize you should have asked more ’cause you’re offering something they need and you can provide.
Having a big name in your portfolio doesn’t pay your bill if you don’t earn the money you should have earned.
Also remember: people talk, so as soon as the market understands your policy, you won’t be able to negotiate anymore because you’ve set a precedent for yourself.
1.1 Provide a quote based on brand recognition
This is the other coin of the point above. Having the chance to work with a big brand can make you think: they have money, I can ask for more. So, basically, you ask too much for something that doesn’t require that budget. This also sets a bad precedent: instead of being seen as a true professional, able to evaluate what to ask based on your knowledge and experience you will be seen as someone interesting in making money with something that has a lower market value.
Think again: do you really want to be considered the cheater?
2. Provide a random quote without thinking
One of the biggest mistakes freelancers make, is not to think in-depth about what the job will be about.
So we end up asking for a price but in reality, we should have had asked for more.
One of the things every freelancer should always do is to “ask and ask and ask”: if a request is not clear, just ask for more information before rushing with your estimate.
3. Leave the price definition to the client
I’m sure you’ve said “how much can you pay?” to your client at least once.
Clients usually say they have a small budget because this is part of a psychological game: you ask me how much I wanna pay so I tell you I don’t have a lot of money to spend on this specific piece of projects. This brings you, the freelancer, into a place where you don’t feel comfortable asking for more.
Pretty easy, isn’t it? Never ask for a budget, give them yours, eventually specify you’re available to negotiate (under certain circumstances) and let’s be reassured: if they want you, they’ll hire you.
4. Compare with the others
It’s easy to see what others are doing and trying to copy them. And it’s easy to ask colleagues how they do price themselves but you know what? Easy doesn’t necessarily mean good.
Having a discussion with other people in the business on the best practices (oh hello, that’s what we’re doing here!) is great and recommendable but fetching your prices to others’ prices it’s just not right.
You always have to ask yourself: which value do I give to my knowledge? What’s the right salary for me, based on my life expectations? What else am I putting on the table?
This doesn’t mean you don’t have to listen… just as for everything else, don’t copy but create!
5. Be all white or black
Grey is a great color, why do we always forget about it? In sending your estimate, you should always be clear and open by stating you’re available to talk about everything. This means you are interested in negotiating prices and conditions of the job to meet your client’s needs but this also means the client knows where your price starts from and for sure he won’t go too low.
Think about it: you offer 1000 for a few pieces of content but you know you can go up to 900. If you say clearly you can negotiate, your client probably will understand they can have you for 900.
Everybody is happy and the relation starts in a good way.
How to evaluate your job
Considering this topic can be the subject of an entire article itself, these are some things to put into consideration when doing a proposal:
1. How much time do I need to complete the tasks?
You can decide to quote your price by the hour, for example, based on the effort required. This means you have to decide what’s a fair amount for you, how much you want to earn hourly, and multiply by the hours you need to complete the task(s).
If the assignment is supposed to last for a long time, you need to consider a flat fee or to be hired on a consulting retainer, if this suits you and your client.
2. How competent am I for the job?
The more knowledge you have, the more you can charge. This, of course, goes hand by hand with your capability of delivering what you’ve been asked to deliver.
If you’re asked to take a job because you’ve years and years of experience your quote must reflect your presence on the market.
But if you’re asked to take a job you don’t have a lot of experience and you want to build your knowledge, charge accordingly.
If it’s a mixed job then you should always analyze what the client wants to push and make sure you don’t get tricked.
3. How much do I wanna earn?
This can sound mean but we should give value to our job based on how much we want to earn: the assumption “we work for the living, we don’t live for working” is the main reason to become a freelancer.
But this doesn’t mean you need to have problems at the end of the month, you cannot pay your bills, and basically you have to undermine your value just because you’ve chosen not to be attached to just a company and a 9 to 5 job.
If you want to earn a certain amount of money every month, no matter the reason, you should work towards meeting this goal: whether it’s with one client or multiple clients, you should end up earning what you’ve planned to earn or being close to your desire. It may take extra work, but if it’s what you want you should always put your needs ahead.
Based on all of the above, how much you should charge for your freelance work?
As freelancers, we should never be chosen based on how cheap we are but how good at our job we are; whether you’re a programmer or a designer or a writer or a social media expert, your knowledge gives you an advantage and you should always be conscious about this.
If you set your prices once, you’re making a big mistake: changing your pricing system, changing your fees according to the type of job you’re requested to do, change them to match your (new) skills is something you should always consider. probably wrong
Remember: setting your prices low will transform you into an amateur, the one always willing to accept just to have a client more.
At the end of the day, running a freelancing business is about charging the money you deserve for the value you bring to your customers. You don’t have to overcharge, but you don’t even have to set lowball prices.
Think about it: what type of quality do you expect from a pair of $20 shoes versus $100 shoes?
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