Charging More than the Other Guys

Every freelancer wants to make it to the big time with the awesome clients and the awesome pay. I’ve noticed that there seems to be an interesting division in the freelance world, regardless of what kind of freelancer you are. Our hourly pay (and if you charge by the project like me, you can still break it down to hourly) seems to be divided into three tiers:

  • Cheap –$10-$40 an hour
  • Affordable–$50-75 an hour
  • Big Time–$75-$300+ an hour

I know a lot of freelancers who balk at the idea of charging $75+ an hour and don’t even believe you can charge over $100 an hour (they’re usually the kind of freelancers who charge hourly and not by the project). However, contrary to belief, you CAN charge more than everyone else, you just have to know how.

What Are You Worth?

The first thing to charging more, is figuring out how much you’re really worth. Come on, be honest with yourself. Are you just starting out with what you’re doing? Or, have you been doing it for years and years? Do you know your skill like the back of your hand, or are you still in the beginner stages?

Let’s assume for the sake of this article that you’ve got both the experience and skill to charge more. You’re not a n00b at what you do. You do it the best and you know it, so now it’s time to start charging like it. Here’s some ways to figure out what to charge:

  • Experiment–There’s nothing wrong with giving clients different rates to determine which rate will work better for you. I once had three different prices from $50 – $100 an hour I would charge different clients to see which price was more accepted, and which price got the best kinds of clients.
  • Acceptance–If you’re getting almost no declines, you’re charging too little. If everyone is declining your proposals, you’re either charging way too much, or marketing to the wrong kinds of clients.

Convincing Clients to Pay More

Convincing clients to pay you more than the other guy shouldn’t be difficult. First note that if you start charging $100+, you’ll get less accepted proposals, but you’ll get better clients, higher quality work and more money.

  • Take a look at your portfolio. Does it look like the portfolio of a $100+ hour freelancer? Perhaps it’s time to update the design. Is the site language boring marketing speak, or is it professional, but personal? Clients like it when you show a bit of personality in your site copy.
  • Testimonials. The more (real) testimonials you have, the more you can charge because clients can see for themselves that you deliver awesome work, also referred clients are less likely to haggle with you in price.
  • Don’t Haggle. If you tried to buy a Chevy, you could probably haggle the salesman down a few hundred dollars. But, if you were at a Porsche dealer, would you haggle? Great freelancers don’t haggle in price. What you charge is what you charge and if the client can’t afford it, there’s someone behind them that can. It may sound harsh, but if you’re always haggling your price, you’ll never be able to charge a realistic hourly rate. Unless it’s a client you really really want (and even then I’d tried not to haggle money, but perhaps services), don’t ever reduce your price!
  • Weed Out The Bad Ones. Not every client is going to be able to pay your rates, but that’s ok, you don’t want to work with every client. Weed out the people who can’t or won’t want to pay your rates by putting some kind of disclaimer in your contact area. By stating that I don’t accept any coding jobs under $700, I get almost no requests for cheap jobs, and I get a higher acceptance rate because the people contacting me already know what to expect in terms of price.
  • Know Who To Market To. If you’re charging more than $100 an hour, you’re not going to find any clients on bidding job sites or Craigslist. You have to start marketing yourself to bigger and better clients. Make sure you can be found everywhere on the web and make social media your next big hobby. Start bidding for large proposals on regular job boards. After awhile, most clients should be coming to you, instead of you chasing them.


When you’re in a higher hourly rate, the competition is way different than when you’re in cheap or even affordable land. Believe it or not, there’s a lot less competition and a lot less fighting for a project. I actually seem to have a better acceptance rate than I did when I charged $30 an hour!

You may see that those cheap places like 99designs or those PSD2HTML shops get a lot of work. But, they’re having to work longer hours to make a percentage of what you make. Don’t worry about those. There will always be another freelancer who charges less than you, and there will always be clients who want it cheap, but you’re not cheap and you don’t want cheap clients. Other business and freelancers who charge much less than you are no longer your competition. Continuing on with the car analogy, it’s like comparing a Lamborghini to a Yaris.

To make sure you don’t really have to deal with competition, make sure you really deliver in both product and service. Never be late. Always answer their emails and calls as soon as possible. Remember they’re paying a premium for your service so they expect premium service.

Your Thoughts

Do you charge more than the average freelancer? How did you do it?

Image by shanafin