Working a 9-to-5 desk job comes with a few guarantees you can be sure of: how much you’re getting paid, a yearly assessment of your work, and the ability to negotiate a pay increase after working there a certain amount of time.
When you’re freelancing, you have to determine all these things on your own. And what’s more, there are no guarantees on what you should be paid and if you’ll ever be due a raise. Where do you start? How do you know when to change things up and start charging more?
There are many factors to consider as you begin to plan your freelance rates, including:
Market standards for freelance rates vary based on the nature of your freelance work and your experience. Following our suggestions above can help you determine your baseline rate by considering your expenses and cost of living. Once you figure out how many days a year or hours a year you can work, do the math to determine what your exact hourly rate should be.
Your freelance rates should never remain stagnant. If you don’t receive pushback on what you charge, you’re probably not charging enough. So, how do you balance raising your rates and keeping existing clients? You don’t want to lose them by increasing your rates, but you also need to earn what you are worth and keep pace with inflation.
You should consider increasing your rates for the following reasons:
There’s no set time on when you should increase your rates, but the following are some suggestions:
Consider the following elements as you prepare to increase your rates:
It’s also important to consider what other freelancers are charging. You might calculate a pay rate of $45 per hour, only to discover that someone else in the market is charging less for the same quality of work. Do your research. Find out what other freelancers are charging. Look at their work. Compare it to yours. But don’t be tempted to lower your prices just yet.
Yes, it’s important to get a feel for what others are charging because you could lower your rates initially, build up clients, and then increase your rates. It’s equally important not to sell yourself short in the freelancing game. Take the numbers you calculated for what you should charge, compare them to what other similar freelancers are charging, then evaluate your options. You will almost certainly be competing with other freelancers based on price and quality. Finding a solid middle ground to build on is crucial.
Comparison can be a dangerous thing. Don’t get too caught up in trying to be like your competition—the best goal you can have is to improve your services and products. Checking out your competition can help motivate you in that goal. Just be sure to not get distracted by it.
One of the best ways to measure yourself and your work against the competition is to ask your customers and clients for reviews. Request feedback on the product, promptness, and professionalism of the service, what they liked or didn’t like. Then take that feedback and make what you do and what you offer better.
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