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.

Competition

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?

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Amber,

    Great article. I find it extremely difficult to raise my prices as my clients are few and far between, and I cant afford to let them slip past. I know I am worth more as I have 13 years experience. I am lucky to get 8 dollars an hour, which sucks considering the quality of my work. I am scared to higher my rates at risk of losing what little I have.

    I am sure there are many more out there just like me.

  2. says

    From a client’s point of view, your rate speaks of your confidence in yourself as a freelancer. The higher you charge; the better I’ll sleep at nights – knowing that I hired someone who knows how to do a job right ( without having to revise the second time around ). Many businesses make the mistake of hiring the lowest bidder and as the adage goes, they usually get what they paid for.

  3. says

    @Paul Jacobs, $8/hr is less than you’d make in an entry level staff position. Even contracted unskilled labor typically charges upward of $20/hour. What you need to do is set a realistic rate and charge this for all new clients. As you become busier with new clients, you can increase your rates to your old clients. You will lose most of them and you will be better off for it as you are replacing them with more valuable clients.

  4. says

    I liked this post, Amber, as one of the “not cheap” designers out there. The key is what you pointed out very clearly: skills.

    When a design company has clear and apparent skills – and by skills, I don’t mean pretty pictures on the web, I mean ‘proven results and a solid client reputation’ – it’s easy to charge for the value of your work.

    So for those who want higher rates, up your skills. Take a course. Push your limits. Read – lots. Learn. Become better. MAKE TIME to improve yourself and your skills, even if you have to eat Kraft Dinner for a while.

    Then get results. Don’t focus on being a good designer – focus on being a good provider, one who gives clients what they want and need. Which is usually more sales and more clients of their own.

    It takes work, for sure. And time. But it can be done, and we’re proof of it.

  5. Matthew Wehrly says

    Amber,
    Great article. With the internet as large and encompassing as it is, you would think there would be more resources for freelancers to identify and develop rate strategies. I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated, “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. ”

    Thanks again for the thoughts.

  6. says

    The key to getting big clients is knowing people in high places. Keep In touch with everyone you meet. I found some big fish this way. Try to be friends with CEO’s of companies, it just takes 1 to get started :)

  7. says

    @Courtney Just being out there and active in the community will get them to notice you. It takes time and it’s different for everyone, but the most important thing is to consistently update your medias several times a day.

  8. says

    @Amber, I guess my biggest problem is the social media beast. I have no idea what to say. Some people are very comfortable and conversational on twitter and facebook, but I struggle with it. I’m all for “practice makes perfect” but doing the wrong thing over and over will not make me better.

    @Andrew, yeah, I agree, sometimes it’s just who you know.

  9. Matt says

    I am curious to know what people think of posting prices or hourly rate on their websites? Does this scare clients away or does it help you obtain the right kind of clients? I would also assume posting prices alleviates the hardest question to clients which is, “How much is it going to cost”?

  10. says

    Last spring, after reading (and re-reading and re-reading) The Wealthy Freelancer and The Well-Fed Writer, I doubled my fees. I had been in business full-time as a real business less than two years. My husband had a cow; broke out in a cold sweat; etc.–my income is 1/2 of our household budget. BUT my business WENT UP exponentially. (I let my current and previous clients know that they had a 90-day *grandfather* window at their old rates–the new rates went into effect for them on July 1st.)

    I learned how to effectively market, how to write proper proposals, how to present my portfolio and website, how to say NO, and especially how to value myself and my work so that everything I do EXUDES that I am worth $75-$100 per hour. I have a written rate sheet from which I DO NOT deviate. Some people just can’t afford me.

    I work by the project (not hour); I DO negotiate and customize each quote depending on the project and the client. But I don’t lower my rates just to get the job. I learned my lesson!

    I am so busy, I don’t even have time to write this response–except I take breaks during the day! I’m behind on publishing some of my blog posts–they’re already written by my niece who is building HER portfolio and is a great writer. (*Delegate*…)

    The only people who get discounts are non-profits and my graduate and post-graduate students who are living on a stipend. But as a former teacher and college instructor, I have a special place in my heart for university students and they re-hire me for their next degree and refer me to their friends–no additional marketing required.

    #1 tip: know and show that you deserve your fees. Eat beans before you’ll settle for peanuts. There are those who want to treat you as a commodity and de-value you to pay pennies. NOT THE KID! Not you, either! There are also those who WILL pay your rates.

  11. says

    This is great, Amber! Something I struggle with a lot as a beginning freelancer. Every day I’m learning more and more about freelancing and about graphic design. I don’t want prospects to think I’m cheap, but I also don’t want them to think I’m a rip-off. Charging based on your skill and experience is key…finding out what that is, is the hard part. I like your idea of charging different clients different rates to see their response. If one client jumps on it like it’s the best deal in the world…it’s probably and indicator that I’m not charging enough. On the other hand if everyone turns down my quotes, I’m probably charging too much.

    In the short time I’ve been freelancing I’ve learned that that pricing yourself is an art form!

    Thanks for your comments and advice!

    Jen

  12. says

    @Matt: I do NOT post my rates on my website. I let people know how to contact me to have a conversation before I submit a customized quote. I advertise it as a *free* 30-minute consultation. *Free* is good! LOL! They also like *customized*. That way, you get past the tire kickers and you aren’t stuck with a price that doesn’t reflect the project.

  13. says

    I see my friend James here: I learned a LOT from him and posts on his website.

    Last spring, after reading (and re-reading and re-reading) The Wealthy Freelancer and The Well-Fed Writer, I doubled my fees. I had been in business full-time as a real business less than two years. My husband had a cow; broke out in a cold sweat; etc.–my income is 1/2 of our household budget. BUT my business WENT UP exponentially. (I let my current and previous clients know that they had a 90-day *grandfather* window at their old rates–the new rates went into effect for them on July 1st.)

    I learned how to effectively market, how to write proper proposals, how to present my portfolio and website, how to say NO, and especially how to value myself and my work so that everything I do EXUDES that I am worth $75-$100 per hour. I have a written rate sheet from which I DO NOT deviate. Some people just can’t afford me.

    I work by the project (not hour); I DO negotiate and customize each quote depending on the project and the client. But I don’t lower my rates just to get the job. I learned my lesson!

    I am so busy, I don’t even have time to write this response–except I take breaks during the day! I’m behind on publishing some of my blog posts–they’re already written by my niece who is building HER portfolio and is a great writer. (*Delegate*…)

    The only people who get discounts are non-profits and my graduate and post-graduate students who are living on a stipend. But as a former teacher and college instructor, I have a special place in my heart for university students and they re-hire me for their next degree and refer me to their friends–no additional marketing required.

    #1 tip: know and show that you deserve your fees. Eat beans before you’ll settle for peanuts. There are those who want to treat you as a commodity and de-value you to pay pennies. NOT THE KID! Not you, either! There are also those who WILL pay your rates.

  14. says

    @Matt I don’t post prices because it’s always dependent on the project itself, but I do post a minimum project rate. It really helps weed out clients that aren’t a good fit.

  15. says

    The beginning of this post made me laugh a bit and remember old times…back when I was just beginning freelancing (but with plenty of experience and not new to the web development world) I was charging well within the cheap range, and I had a potential client that was baffled at my ‘ridiculously high rate.’ He even proceeded to challenge my rate for a lower one, referencing other “How much to charge” posts, which only further proved my own point allover again! (I to this day do not know where that guy was coming from.)

    The point is, no matter where you keep your rates, whether its fair to you or not as a freelancer, there will be clients that think it’s too high. What would be worse is finding a client that is willing to pay a fair price for your work, and seeing that you’re valuing yourself too low, and then assuming you’re not as great as they had originally thought.

    Since then I’ve raised my rates to a reasonable range, and plan to raise them a bit more after I graduate. I agree with you 100% Amber, there’s no reason not to raise your rate to what your worth! I often find that when I charge per project rates, even if I keep the fixed price the same throughout time, I get better and faster at what I do and therefore my hourly rate goes up automatically as my experience increases.

  16. says

    I see my dear friend James commented–I learned a LOT from him and from information on his website.

    I also used the freelance calculator on Freelance Switch (see link above) to give me an idea and a starting point on which to base my own fees. Very helpful.

    Last spring, after reading (and re-reading and re-reading) The Wealthy Freelancer and The Well-Fed Writer, I doubled my fees. I had been in business full-time as a real business less than two years. My husband had a cow; broke out in a cold sweat; etc.–my income is 1/2 of our household budget. BUT my business WENT UP exponentially. (I let my current and previous clients know that they had a 90-day *grandfather* window at their old rates–the new rates went into effect for them on July 1st.)

    I learned how to effectively market, how to write proper proposals, how to present my portfolio and website, how to say NO, and especially how to value myself and my work so that everything I do EXUDES that I am worth $75-$100 per hour. I have a written rate sheet from which I DO NOT deviate. Some people just can’t afford me.

    I work by the project (not hour); I DO negotiate and customize each quote depending on the project and the client. But I don’t lower my rates just to get the job. I learned my lesson!

    I am so busy, I don’t even have time to write this response–except I take breaks during the day! I’m behind on publishing some of my blog posts–they’re already written by my niece who is building HER portfolio and is a great writer. (*Delegate*…)

    The only people who get discounts are non-profits and my graduate and post-graduate students who are living on a stipend. But as a former teacher and college instructor, I have a special place in my heart for university students and they re-hire me for their next degree and refer me to their friends–no additional marketing required.

    #1 tip: know and show that you deserve your fees. Eat beans before you’ll settle for peanuts. There are those who want to treat you as a commodity and de-value you to pay pennies. NOT THE KID! Not you, either! There are also those who WILL pay your rates.

  17. says

    Great article, I’ve been doing some freelancing on my free time and usually keep my rates relatively high. I’d rather work on my own projects learning what I want to learn and doing what I want to do than to create a $300 website with just plain HTML and CSS just to make a buck, specially since a lot of these cheap clients don’t care enough about the website to follow up with you and the project takes weeks to finish.

  18. says

    A breath of fresh air! Post like this help freelancer ( since we work by our self ) and verify my thought process. Have this on my list of things to do and moving it to position 1 on the list.

    @Amber… l like the hourly pay tier example. Since alot of freelancer can work all over the world from our office now a days, do you think region or location would or can effect this example tier.

    Charles D.

  19. says

    Good article. I can relate to the first comment by Paul — even though I know I don’t want to work with cheap, unreasonable clients, I still have a hard time turning business away. But in the end, it pays to take a conscientious effort to assess your situation. If you’re pretty regularly busy (indicating high acceptance rate) and still not making as much as you’d like, you’re probably not charging enough.

    I prefer to experiment with rates on jobs I’m not crazy about in the first place – that seems to be the lowest-risk environment for testing out new pricing strategy. If your high bid is accepted, great! Maybe you’re really worth that much, and you’re onto something. On the other hand, if you’re turned down, it’s no real loss.

  20. says

    Great article, thank you Amber!! I’ve worked through this on my own for quite a while now and settled in at a nice rate to a point. I still have a few older clients who get my bargain basement rates just to make sure I have enough work to fill my days. And they’re not asking for my best work, so I’m ok with that. I am comfortable with having different rates for different clients.

    I wanted to say that the most useful paragraph in this post for me was the “Acceptance.” It seems obvious that if all your estimates are accepted, you’re probably not charging enough. But not so obvious that if you’re getting a lot of declines for your proposals it doesn’t necessarily mean your price is too high. It could be that you’re marketing to the wrong kinds of clients. That’s a VERY good point and one of my major goals/challenges right now is to figure out how to market to the RIGHT kinds of clients, meaning those who will be able and willing to pay what I deserve for my services. Easier said than done!

  21. says

    I think raising my rates was one of the best decision I’ve made in my freelance career.

    Now, I work less (yes, less), I provide better quality, I serve my clients better while I earn more.

    The rates posted by Amber are very realistic in US market, after you provide the quality required, of course.

  22. says

    Here’s a follow-up question to those who have had success raising rates:

    What type of client are you going after with your raised rates? Which targets have been successful, which have not?

    In my experience, I’ve had a little success using high rates with small businesses that are established, have a profitable, high-margin business, and are committed to web marketing.

    Not so much success with start-ups, businesses that are struggling, or those that are not yet profitable, or those that need to be sold on the importance of marketing.

    I think that makes sense, but just wondering what other peoples’ experience has been.

  23. says

    In Poland it’s generally $25 (of course in PLN) per hour for a company and it’s considered good for the company and a bit expensive for the client. Freelancers usually take $10-15 and they are considered cheaper, some non-experienced students take $8-10 and they spoil the market of course (plus they don’t use legal software, don’t pay taxes, etc.). I’ll just add that we have the same prices or only 10-15 per cent lower on different articles than Europe (with wages 4 times lower). It’s all about high taxes, cost of living and low wages in our not-so-much-”post”-communist country. Still a lot of red bastards in key departments of the government… : (
    I myself have great problems with adjusting my prices. I very slowly adjust to a big city I’m currently living in and I charge only 15-20 per cent more than 3-4 years ago, in a smaller city : (
    And I hate charging “per hour”, I prefer charging “per project”. I prefer not to set exact amount of hours because sometimes it’s 3 hours of poor outcome and then two days later I spend 1 hour and everything’s perfect. I just can’t understand how you can charge “per hour” when it comes to art – because we create art.
    But with the decreasing amount of free time I must admit I start attacking higher stakes thinking “who accepts my wages, gets me”.

  24. says

    Great article! We’ve been consistently raising our rates over the last year as we’ve gotten busier, and it’s been a great success. The day I stopped fearing that our work wasn’t worth what we were charging and realized how valuable our expertise and professionalism were was a great day indeed. Something that helped a lot was also having a simple RFP form on our site that clients could submit what type of work they were interested in as well as what their budget was. The ranges they can select from the form lets them know what our minimum rates are – helps keep the tire-kickers away!

  25. says

    @Amber Thanks for the quick reply. After several conversation with other web designers over the last few months I am in the process of refocusing my efforts to locations that can afford custom design web sites (Word Press, Expression Engine). Finding this blog is very timely and refreshing. In process of redoing my whole operation and approach.

  26. says

    I have over ten yrs as a freelance Web and Print designer in the East Tn region. Dec 09 I took a step back and realized that it was time for a change and dropped the few non profits that I have dealt with and changed my approach and increased my rates. And have my eye on marketing my self out side of this area.

    I do not knock non profits, I cut my teeth on them and they helped me to expand my skills in area I may of not had a chance to gain experience.

  27. says

    I enjoyed reading this article and all the comments. I’m in a situation right now where my portfolio does not match my skill level. I am getting lots of people visiting my site, but I see that after they view my portfolio, they leave. I think my rates are pretty fair, so it must be my portfolio pieces that are running them off. They are not great, but I’ve been so busy on doing little jobs (maintenance type work) for clients or doing PSD coding for other agencies that I’ve not had much of a chance to do something about it.

    Would you guys recommend taking my portfolio pieces down until I can get some better examples on there?

  28. says

    @Susan – I agree, showcase just a few of your very best pieces. Another idea that came to mind was that you could try using something other than just images to highlight each of your featured pieces. For example, do you have a great testimonial, client quote, or results (increased visitors by x%, etc) that you could include along with each thumbnail?

    That way even if a prospective client isn’t blown away by what they *see*, there’s still a chance they could be impressed by reading about the other results your work has achieved for clients.

    Just a thought … but what do I know, my portfolio’s not even available on my site yet:)

  29. says

    This is a really great post Amber! I can honestly say that raising my rates was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a freelancer. I got to work with clients who were much, much better than the cheapos I had to deal with in my early years freelancing and I got to support my family a whole lot more financially. And I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have the guts to tell clients why I was worth this rate and why they should hire me instead of the $1-$5/hour freelancers waiting in line.

  30. Jessica says

    We (as in the company I work at) charge by the project for new websites, but for any maintenance work we charge by the hour. We are definitely in the expensive range, but these are clients we’ve already worked with. We always provide an estimate of pricing, and tell them that we charge in half hour increments. Nine times of ten the clients says yep go ahead or needs to get the boss’ approval first. Only occasionally do we have someone turn us down. I think it works since clients already know our work, and we have personal interactions with the client. They feel like what they need is going to get done.

  31. says

    Great post Amber! Every time I see a post on how to increase rates… my curiosity goes several notches :) Who doesn’t want to have a warm pocket with full of currency :)! It’s a real tough game out to get what we deserve – and keep us busy and meeting ends.

    All the comments are good. I just want to know how do we approach good clients who can pay us good rates. On the social website… and what irks (blame me) is the ignorance how to use twitter and other sites. Sigh….!

  32. says

    Great post.
    Yes its always convenient to charge by project and not by hour.
    Guys the secret lies in this one statement of @Amber,
    “you CAN charge more than everyone else, you just have to know how.”

  33. niubi says

    It boils down to a lot of factors. A newbie will have to charge less, whilst a pro with an impressive resume can cherrypick being one of the factors. I always tell people just starting out that they should investigate network marketing as a way to get big $$$ – think DubLi and other good ones. But you need to research! Like many things in life, you have to work work work to get success.

  34. says

    @Charles and @Amber…I think region DOES have something to do with pricing. When I lived on the east coast, there were a lot of retired military who were collecting pensions. So, they could work for about 1/2 of what others could work for bc they already had the rest of their salary coming in from retirement. Therefore, I could barely charge $35, and got comments all the time about how high my rate was. When I moved to Austin, TX, I got told over and over that my rates were too LOW. What a change! Now I charge substantially more, have great clients, and work less.

    Keys to being able to charge more (and I think someone else mentioned this), make yourself LOOK like you’re worth it. Put your credentials out there (classes, awards, years in business), have a great looking website, post your testimonials and referrals, have solid marketing materials like a good contract, matching styles for your proposals and invoices….When people see that they know that you’ve put thought into YOUR work, so you’ll be putting thought into THEIRS.

    Great article, Amber!

  35. says

    I’ve been freelance for 19 years and my rates are about average for someone with my level of experience. There are loads of copywriters who charge much less than I do – but that’s because they’re new to it or they undervalue themselves. I often lose projects on price but if a company wants to hire someone cheap and inexperienced, then that’s up to them. I don’t lower my rates.

  36. says

    Maybe I should raise my prices…

    The problem is, I’m a student, not a 40-hour a-week guy. The quality of my work is pretty high, but I can’t be as reliable as I want to because of my study.

  37. J Santi says

    This type of Freelancer mentality is especially for those who are in a Consulting role. So many Consultants out there do not raise their rates or start their firms with the value that they are worth. Instead they focus more on the small time fish and just picking up any contracts they can win the bid war against by going far below what should be the right quote for the type of involved work.

    The last paragraph defines this article and hits home for me personally as an IT Consultant:

    “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.”

    Thanks for a great read!

  38. says

    Great post, and a lot of great comments so far! Price is always a problem. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when talking to a new client what they are planning on paying and what they aren’t. I try to ask about some sort of budget just for some sort of reference, but some people really don’t know or they don’t want to share that information.

    Skill is definitely a huge factor in your pricing. Obviously the more still and assets you have the more you can charge. With skill also comes speed. For a larger fee you are able to get the same jobs done faster. If you have a hard new client you might have to lower the hourly fee but raise the time it will take for you to complete it. For example: if you usually charge $80/hr and something will take you about 1 hour, tell them you will do them a favor and lower the rate to $40/hr but it will take about 2 hours. Of course this will only work if you don’t tell them the time it will take right away (always talk price BEFORE time). This will ensure that you will get paid what you are worth no matter what you are charging. People are funny, they would rather pay a cheaper rate with more time than a larger rate with a smaller amount of time.

    Another really big thing to consider is location. Where are you? Where is the client? If you live in a middle class city you will probably have to charge a “middle class” rate for local clients. If you have a client in New York City or California, charge them the going rates where they are. It also works the other way. If you are in NYC and you happen to get a mom and pop shop in a small town, there would be almost no way to charge them NYC rates.

    Gauge new clients to old clients – are you landing all of your new clients without a sweat on your end? There is nothing wrong with fighting for your rate and new business a little. If you are getting jobs too easy, your rates might be set too low. With the next possible project/client that comes your way, try upping your rate $5-$10/hr. You will be surprised what people are willing to pay if you can make a good case for you/your company.

  39. says

    raising the rate in todays competitive world is always a risk…because i have seen ppl charging as low as 1$/hr and client opting for him…wonder who is stupid between them but this is how today’s marketing world goes

  40. Chonticia Y. Jackson says

    Thank you soooooo much for this blog! I’ve worked in both banking and customer service before starting my writing journey, and my mother always told me that it was tacky to talk about money. Even during job interviews, I never felt comfortable negotiating so most of the time, I just took what I was offered. I never wanted to overstep my bounds with a future employer. I think that another reason I had difficulty negotiating was that I didn’t have a college education at that time so in a way, I felt like they were doing me the favor by even hiring me in the first place.

    I think that now that I have a Bachelor’s degree and I’m working on my Master’s, I will have more confidence when I go back out into the job market. I will be graduating in approximately a year and a half so I need to know how to set my price and what the range is in my market. I’m not sure about other freelance industries, but writing is competitive and sometimes freelance jobs are all we have to generate income during the lean periods. The idea of freelancing is fairly new to me, but your article will help me to not be so hesitant when talking about money with a potential client and I will feel comfortable charging what I’m worth.

    Another thing that would make me hesitant to charge a certain rate would be competition. I guess there will always be a fear that the next freelancer will charge less than you, but I can’t allow that fear to diminish my worth as a writer. I appreciate all the tips and I know they will serve me well.

  41. says

    Great post, and timely too. I just recently took the leap and raised my rates and I am busier than I’ve ever been. A primary reason I decided to do it — outside of wanting to increase my income — is to eliminate clients who take so much time but can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) a reasonable fee. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved smaller clients – they were my bread and butter for many years. But, I realized it was time to step up to the next level. Interesting how many times lately I’ve been hearing this message – last month from my business coach, on a teleconference training today, and now in this great blog. It’s good advice! Thanks.

  42. says

    You are SO welcome Ed!

    @Everyone: sorry for the duplicate posts! One of my responses posted immediately and the other didn’t show up so I clicked it again. (And again and again, apparently!)

    This has been great conversation. As for *region*, I guess it would depend on if you only market locally. If so, then regional demographics would surely apply. If you work globally, my tip is to stand your ground and not be swayed by those who can quote really low amounts because their cost of living is so much lower. Just remember that there are those who just cannot afford you; but there are plenty others who can.

  43. Jason says

    This is a great article thanks Amber. I thought I was affordable but apparently I’m cheap. I think the biggest problem I have at the moment is that I’m working too much because I charge too little. Working too much sometimes causes me to be late with work. My quality is great (because client’s tell me). I’ll have to work harder in the short term to improve my being on time factor. Although it seems that it’s only a select few clients I’m late with, not others – money for the job is not a factor perhaps it’s the perceived difficultly of the job. Once improved I will have to increase my prices with current clients. Will increase my rate slightly for new clients to bring it up closer to “affordable”.

  44. says

    @Jason, See WritingItRightForYou’s comment about grandfather clause………..
    (I let my current and previous clients know that they had a 90-day *grandfather* window at their old rates–the new rates went into effect )

  45. says

    Jason, See WritingItRightForYou’s comment about (I let my current and previous clients know that they had a 90-day *grandfather* window at their old rates–the new rates went into effect

  46. says

    it depends.

    If the economy sucks, you need to lower your rates. If it’s good, raise them. Also depends on how much money you got. If you’re comfortable, raise your rates, if you’re desperate, lower them.

    Raise them too much and you’ll alienate many potential clients. Make them too low and it’s a tell-tale sign that you don’t have enough experience.

    One way to get a higher rate is to get the potential client on the phone and let them hear how knowledgeable you are with a free but brief consultation on their project. Just blurting out a high rate without backing it up probably won’t convince them (even with a good portfolio).

    Unfortunately, it’s mostly about being a salesman. This goes for all industries.

    So it goes.

    -dp

  47. says

    Hey Amber, great post!

    This is definitely one of the biggest dilemmas I faced as I grew my business here in Austin. I definitely didn’t want to be that guy that folks could count on for cheap advice, yet I didn’t have the experience to really charge much.

    Turns out, I raised my rates from $50/hr to $150/hr (for marketing consulting) in the past 6 months, and I’ve had no objections. Everyone I network with knows my rates, but they still come to me because I’ve built that personal brand of quality and service.

    Thanks for the great info!

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