3 November 2014
Price your freelance work according to content and quality:
Nothing more, nothing less
by Al Sabado
In my other online article, Define your freelance work—without marketing tools, I mentioned that as a freelancer, you should “[a]llow your product and service to survive and take root without relying on trends.” But that doesn't end there. Later on you'll find the need to thrive as well in your freelance business. Why is there a need to thrive? Because thriving at work spells out f-u-n at work! Just imagine if your freelance work doesn’t prosper, then you probably don’t have much motivation to accomplish the tasks that come your way.
Thriving in business doesn’t necessarily mean you'll have to grow your business by hiring people, establishing branches of your small company to make it big this time, or anything of that sort.
Thriving in freelance business means you've found your niche in the industry, learned to be unmoved when projects don’t come (because some of your projects just ended a few days ago, perhaps), and gained the courage to price your work confidently, among other reasons.
How do you thrive in freelancing? I’ll just mention here a few; the rest is up to you.
Rid yourself of unnecessary thoughts. The fear factor is among the unnecessary thoughts that keep freelancers from pricing their work properly. And they say, “If I price my work high, then no one will hire me.” Do you think that way too? Note that when you price your work low, that doesn’t help you much either, does it? Say, your hourly fee is at $2 USD and you earn $10 USD after finishing a five-hour work. That amount might not even buy you and your family a 10-kg sack of high-grade rice or whatever staple food you and your family—of say, five members—can consume in at least two weeks. If you know, understand, and perform well the service you offer, then you shouldn’t be afraid to quote a fair price.
Price your product and service accordingly. Pricing your product and service appropriately is crucial because the price you set for the work will also be the gauging point of how your freelance business will fare in the market. Consider the first two elements of your business as factors for pricing your freelance work: content and quality. And I say nothing more or less because content and quality define and shape your work and business.
Price your work accordingly so that you get to eat three times a day properly—I need not say that, but thought freelancers should remember what they tend to forget—and pay your monthly bills on time and in full. Not only that, you work so that you can be helpful as well to your loved ones. Now, that may sound common sense until experience tells you that pricing your own work isn't easy. Why is that? You’re thinking within your limitations.
Set your product and service to international standards. Now, take a day off. Dress up decently and visit the first class hotel located within your city. Don’t be scared to enter the hotel. Go see the comfort room and use it. You'll likely find there lotion, soap, powder, rolls of toilet paper, etc. Now they’re free, but don’t hoard. Just use them like you would normally. Try visiting the hotel restaurant too. You might want to order a glass of cold beverage or a cup of brewed coffee. While you’re enjoying your time at the first class hotel, you’ll notice you’re not being charged something like $2 USD per hour, right? You experience excellence at a reasonable cost.
The same principle applies to how you should be pricing your product or service. Your rates are competitive because what you provide is excellent. If you feel that's not yet the case, then make that your goal.
For every industry, most professionals base their rates on the going rates regardless of regional location—across cities, countries, and continents. So here you’ll understand that your industry colleagues aren't just the ones you meet nearby, but everyone else in similar industry around the world. As a professional service provider, you now know you’re not supposed to deliver substandard-quality product and service. So aim as well to meet international standards of doing work. If you have to retrain in your field of expertise, then do so. There’s always something new to learn.
Check out other references. Search for available databases online where you can find pricing ideas relevant to your field. See if there are freelance associations in your industry. Professional associations are also helpful sources of information on how you can best improve in your freelance career. Check out also the Freelance Industry Report 2012, which contains substantial data on price ranges for different freelance professions and other aspects of freelancing. I’ve also posted on my website page, Database of freelance tools, a few helpful links to guide you further:
- EFA: Editorial Rates
- Freelance Fees Guide by the National Union of Journalists
- How to Set Your Freelance Rates (An Overview)
- Professional Fee Guidelines
- SfEP suggested minimum freelance rates
Meantime, keep your rates negotiable. If your client requests for a lower fee due to financial constraint, then by all means, consider. To be the chosen service provider and be given the opportunity to complete the project should already be a plus factor for you. But if you feel the client’s offer is too low, then you'll have to decide on the matter wisely. The choice is yours.
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.