A Guide for Freelancers: How to figure out how much to charge
If you're a freelancer, you already know that the business of getting paid is tricky. No matter what kind of work you do, there are always questions about how much to charge and when to raise your rates. The good news?
Resources exist to help you figure that out. So whether it's $30 an hour or $250 an hour, let this guide help you find out how much you should be charging for freelance work—and why!
Compare your rates against others
First things first - a good way to figure out how much you should charge is to see what people with equivalent skills are charging. That's why this website exists! Head on over to our freelance rates list to do exactly that. We host the worlds biggest crowdsourced database of freelance rates, and we're just here to help people like you.
Understand your client
Not all clients are created equal. For better or worse, client budgets really do vary significantly. Are they a bootstrapped startup founder? They probably dont have a huge budget. Are they a fortune 500 company? They probably have a really sizeable budget. The bigger the budget, the more you can probably charge.
It's good to ask feelers to get a rough picture of the client budget. This isn't to say that clients with small budgets are bad - often, they're not, and you can actually help them grow into loyal clients with big budgets.
The bigger the budget, the more you can probably charge.
It's time to take a hard look in the mirror. Are you good at what you do? Do you have experience to back it up? If you were a client, would you hire yourself?
More often than not, freelancers undervalue themselves. Most of the time, you can charge more, especially after you've worked with a client for a long time.
It's important to understand the value you really provide though. How replaceable are you? If you charge 20% more than somebody else at a similar role, are you providing 20% more output to the company?
Understand your relationship with the client
When you first pitch a client, we all fall victim to it - we bid at an hourly rate lower than we really want in order to increase the odds we get the contract.
Completely common, totally understandable. But, what about a few months, even years later? You are probably onboarded and have a very good relationship with the client now. If you are in a position where you are extra productive because of your familiarity with the project at hand, you can probably ask to charge more.
When it comes to charging more, it doesn't always need to be an awkward discussion. In todays world, it's not completely unusual to just ask via email. This has worked for me a few times, if the relationship is good - it's no problem at all.
Understand freelance market rates
We're all participating in a global economy (well, most of us). As participants in this global economy, we are beholden to rises and falls in freelance supply and demand.
Generally speaking, if the global economy is doing well, you can charge more. If the global economy is doing poorly, you'll either have to charge less or work harder to find a gig.
To stay up to date on rates, you can check out our freelance rates list.
Do what's best for you. If a client can't give you the rate you feel you deserve, thats okay! You could maybe share the freelance rates list so that they are clued in on fair market value, but sometimes clients just genuinely cannot afford the fair market value.
At the end of the day, it's going to be your call. Sometimes it's okay to take below fair market rate to build up a portfolio of happy clients. After that initial phase though, you should really try to get fair market rates.