Setting Your Freelance Rates

Paisley Babylon Blogby Joe Wallace

I’ve been writing a lot lately about setting freelance pay rates. There are several tactics you can use to arrive at a good rate for your time, but new freelancers are sometimes afraid to use some of the more aggressive ones.

Here is a list a tactics I have successfully used to arrive at a fair rate in the end. At least one of them I used THIS WEEK, the others I’ve used in the last year:

Be Direct.  The freelance game is a lot like playing poker. You have to feel out the client to see which approach works best. Sometimes, just asking “What’s your budget for this project” is a good way to get things rolling.

Aim High. In situations where I feel the client is likely to haggle, I throw out an introductory offer that’s higher than I expect to get. This give the client some room to talk me down a bit without me compromising the value I put on my time. I set a high and a low threshold for myself. Below a certain point, I can’t go. If I start out with my actual rate–what I feel my time is really worth, the client will still try to talk me down…

Quote Per-Project Rates. Hourly rates are quite frankly a pain to deal with. By quoting per-project rates instead, you don’t get forced to do a lot of extra bookkeeping–AND you subtly tell the client they are paying for your TALENT and not just your time.

Special Rates for Reasonable People. Freelancing is a two-way street. I do give better rates to clients who are reasonable, friendly and good communicators. As bad as it may sound, clients who start off the conversation as pushy, unreasonable or otherwise unpleasant get charged according to the amount of grief–and additional labor as a result– I feel I’m likely to experience.

I don’t charge extra for work not performed, but I WILL anticipate additional re-writes to perfectly acceptable material, sweeping last minute project revisions and other hassles when the client can’t do the courtesy of at least pretending to be nice in the early stages of negotiation. And nine times out of 10? My calculations turn out to be absolutely correct.