The freelance life can be great. Without a boss to answer to or an alarm clock disturbing your sleep pattern, if you’re well organised you can find a real life/work balance – one that’s hopefully weighted to the ‘life’ part of the equation.
However, one thing all freelancers should think about is gauging how much they should charge for the services they provide and how to go about getting more for them.
One of the key aspects of successful freelancing is setting a rate which is profitable for you but still brings in the work. These tips should help.
1. Find out the going rate
It sounds obvious but before you even tell your client how much you want for the work you’re doing, find out what people with your skills are charging for that task. It’s likely your trade will have some sort of trade union or association, so ask them what constitutes a fair rate. If you know people in the same field as yours, question them too – they’ll have a good idea of what you should charge.
2. Don’t go in too low
It’s tempting to try it, especially in an uncertain economy, but any employer worth their salt won’t employ you just because you’re offering your services cheap. In fact, if you give the impression that you need the work so much you’re willing to charge less than the going rate, then it’s likely they’ll give you a wide berth. And even if they you do use you, you’ll find it near-impossible to get a proper rate later on. Stand firm on what you think you’re worth, as long as you’re being realistic.
3. Don’t forget your expenses
Every business incurs costs, and often these will be reflected in your price – for example, you wouldn’t charge your client extra for a bus ticket or the all-important packet of Wotsits that got you through that last conference call. But some costs – say, anything over 20 quid – should be agreed by your client and added to your invoice. Watch out for calls abroad or pricey train tickets – paying for items like this yourself is beyond the call of duty. Just make sure you keep your receipts.
4. Develop a relationship with your contact
Gain the trust of your client by delivering outstanding work that’s always on time. Ring them up or go for a coffee with them – this way you become a real person rather than a signature at the end of an email. Once you’ve established the relationship and proved you can do the job, you have more room to negotiate a better deal.
Consider your argument for upping the rate – you may be contributing more or regularly spending more time on the phone these days. It may just be that the rate simply hasn’t changed since you started. Often clients will be happy to up your rate when they see that it’s fair – they might just need a nudge. After all, the last thing your client wants is to lose their best supplier.
Be firm but fair when it comes to getting the freelance rate you deserve.