When you take the leap into a freelancer career, putting a dollar amount to your skills can be pretty daunting. Are you not charging enough and underselling yourself and your value? Or are you charging too much and pricing yourself right out of the market?
So how do we figure out what we are worth and navigate some of those tough money conversations? We spoke to Fleur Madden, co-founder and CEO of women’s jobs site Freelancing Gems about how to charge what you’re worth in a competitive market with her six tips.
“Knowing what to charge as a freelancer is so challenging, especially if you have come out of a full-time job, but the major guiding principle I have for consultants/ freelancers in making this path sustainable financially is don’t charge what you think people can afford to pay you, charge what you are worth and you will attract those jobs to you,” Madden said.
Sounds easy enough right? Here are more of her tips:
Don’t immediately just jump to an hourly rate. You have loads of experience right? That's the whole reason you’ve gone out on your own and why people want to work with you. It isn’t about the time it takes you to complete something, it’s about your skill level, experience and the value you bring to the table. Give yourself options likeday rates, project fees and monthly retainers so hourly rates aren’t your immediate go-to. You can also price your services in tiers or individually, so they can pick what services they want and not expect the world for one price.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the money upfront. Ask what the budget is and let them know where your rates start from, to ensure you are a good fit right from the start. The old “we don’t have the budget” could be true, or they also may not truly understand your value, so ensure your proposals clearly spell out what you will deliver for them. And don’t let a ‘no’ knock your confidence—remember, you don’t charge what people can afford, you charge what you are worth.
Do your research so you can feel confident that your rates are competitive. One reason we started Freelancing Gems is because women traditionally charge 38% less than men in consulting work—n some freelancer platforms they pay women 50% less than men for the same job. We are here to sort that sh*t out so if you need a hand with your rates you can download our rate guide here, or find a freelancer buddy over at Freelancing Gems and support each other to charge what you are worth.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate, ideally starting slightly higher so there is somewhere to go. You can kick off that conversation with “I’m happy to be negotiable here and offer you XYZ, but X will be additional” or “I would really love to work on this project and know I could add value, are you comfortable to move ahead at my price of X?”.
Remember that it IS okay to say no to work if they can’t afford your expertise, or they don’t see the value you bring. Not all clients/ jobs are created equally. You get to choose who you work with as a freelancer (one of the many reasons going freelance is so appealing) so make sure you select clients that fit your criteria too. How do you have this tough conversation? “I really appreciate the opportunity. Unfortunately I’m not sure the budget will support the time I will need to deliver. I hope we can work together in the future and in the meantime, here are some other freelancers who may be a good fit”. It is ok to spread the love if that client isn’t a good fit for you, they might be a dream client for one of your freelance friends.
Lastly, don’t forget the stuff that isn’t sexy—take into consideration your tax, GST and add in at least 10% super. Plus the expense of offering your services, software subscriptions and equipment needs to be considered in your rates so that your business is actually profitable.
Freelancing Gems is a digital jobs site for women looking for freelance, consulting, contract, part-time, maternity leave cover and flexible remote roles. They also offer coworking days, masterclasses, business tools and templates and more to help you on your business journey. If you are an employer, also check out Freelancing Gems to connect you with talent.
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