It may sound strange, but much of what I’ve learned about freelance pricing comes from interactions with the construction trade during 20 years of homeownership. I’m a committed do-it-myselfer for as many projects as I can, but I recognize my limits. Over the course of building a pool (which I’ll never do again), building a deck, remodeling a kitchen, and myriad high-level electrical and plumbing issues, I’ve learned a lot…often the hard way. Here are a couple of the key lessons:
How bad do you want it? When you have a problem with plumbing or heating/air conditioning, for example, you are at the contractor’s mercy — failing to get the problem fixed could lead to discomfort, more expenses, or even a catastrophe. What’s the freelance equivalent? Someone with a project with a tight deadline. Your freelance pricing structure should always command a premium when it’s an emergency.
Fast, cheap, or high quality — pick any two. This phrase is the iron rule of construction, because you can’t have something that does all three. The freelance pricing equivalent is precisely the same; you need to get a sense from the client which are their two priorities, and estimate and set a timeline accordingly. It can be an effective negotiating tool, as well, because it enables you to adjust your pitch if the client decides they want to prioritize one of the other variables.
It’s worth having someone reliable. I have rarely picked the low bid on any given construction job, unless I really thought that it could be done for that price without unpleasant surprises. What’s the freelance equivalent? Persuading your potential client that your high-quality services are worth more than they’ve paid in the past, because you’ll get it done well and on time.