How to Earn More Freelance Money: Be Fearless

Paisley Babylon Blogby Joe Wallace

In my freelance career, I’ve found that I earned less money and landed fewer good-paying opportunities when I was overly concerned with pricing myself out of a freelance job.

Sounds like a simple equation, but it’s really not easy to place value on your time and experience. When you’re new and just starting out in the freelance world, a lot of people don’t give themselves a lot of credit for being skilled at what they do–and they undervalue their time and creativity as a result.

I have indeed priced myself out of many gigs, including several that have come in over the last several months, but in the long run I believe I’ve actually earned more as a result.

I price my services according to three basic factors: how much of my time is invested in each project, how difficult the project is to complete, AND the longevity of the work once it’s done.

Once upon a time, I made the mistake of not valuing the end result of my work. For example–you might think that ten dollars a blog post is a fair price. And on the surface, it is. But consider that any blog post you write potentially stays on the web FOREVER, showing up in Google searches and bringing more visitors to that blog or site over time because of Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.

The end result is that a ten dollar blog post is–if written well and optimized for search engines–worth a LOT more.So I decided to add that factor to my pricing structure.

It’s not something I necessarily make known to the client unless our conversation starts turning towards the “Why should I pay you this rate?” questions…but I’ve found that a degree of fearlessness as a freelancer not only earns you a higher paycheck, it also increases the respect level of those doing business with you for the first time.

Bottom line–I changed my business model a long time ago. I don’t set my rates according to what I think the client wants. I set them based on MY EXPERIENCES–do I anticipate this project being a major headache? Or a typical freelance job? Does it look like the client is friendly and easy to work with? They get a discount for not making my life a living hell.

Yes–any potential client can easily go to some other freelancer and get lower rates. But they certainly won’t get my attention and care. They may get a better price, but I get personally involved in my projects and take pains to make them as good as they can be. Good clients recognize that and value it. Bad clients don’t.

It’s easy to feel at the mercy of the client in all things–after all, they hold the purse strings. But once a freelancer learns that the relationship is very much a two-way street, it’s a lot easier to set a price and determine the value of one’s own work.

4 thoughts on “How to Earn More Freelance Money: Be Fearless”

  1. Joe, you raise an interesting issue with the longevity factor. I used to consider a magazine article to have a longer shelf life than certain electronic forms of communication. Paper meant permanence, right?

    But as the internet has evolved over the years, it’s clear that the “forever effect” of searches gives digital content an added benefit that absolutely should be priced in.

    (And to your first point: I just priced myself out of a website-rewrite job, and frankly I’m not disappointed in the slightest. I’m happy about it!)

  2. As Don Draper would say– “We’re desperate–they can smell it on us!” : )

    If you come across as needing the work, the client can tell. They can. Some people even come across that way when they don’t need the work!

    Treat yourself as the professional you are and you won’t have to complain about being overworked and underpaid. Don’t settle for clients that don’t understand the value of your professionalism and hard work ethic. If you’ve earned a certain level of pay–hold out for it!

    If you are new, you may need to learn more and pay your dues before you get to this point–but set it as an eventual goal and one day you will get there!

  3. Well said Joe: Your thoughts here remind me of a quote, an excerpt from Paul Strikwerda titled the ‘Awedition”

    “I am a freelancer and my added value wil always be higher than my rate. When you hire me, you can rely on my expertise, my Experience, and my enthusiasm.”

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Much success to you always.
    –Mark Maurer

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