How much should I charge as a freelancer? How can I increase my rates? How can I compete with other freelancers charging less than me? How can I find higher-paying clients?
Most freelancers have asked themselves these questions at some point in their freelancing journey!
There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to pricing (sorry!) but here are 10 sure-fire ways to take your freelance business to the next level and start charging higher fees!
Before quitting your day job for your foray into freelancing, there's some essential research that needs to be done ahead of time! Hop onto Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - all the resources available to you - and educate yourself on the demand for the service you're planning on providing. Stack up the pros and cons, and get a clear idea of your competition! Is the market already flooded with competitors doing the same/similar thing? Is there no one service providing what you're planning on doing? Remember, you want to hit a sweet spot here and this definitely requires a lot of consideration.
At the same time, you're definitely going to need to have a look at competitors' pricing - and don't forget to take note of their experience and rates and how those two points are intertwined.
It's time for a bit more research, building on the point above! Consider how much you want to make and how much time you have. Come up with your hourly rate (remember, this doesn't mean you HAVE to box yourself in at hourly rates) and work out how much you need to charge clients for projects. But you still have to be realistic! Your rates should meet market needs and you have to find a small number of people who are willing to pay that amount.
Next up, where are you in your freelancing career? Just starting? It will be harder to price the way you want, so weigh up the benefits of charging less to start with to gain experience and build your portfolio. The better your portfolio or online presence, the quicker you can increase your prices and charge your worth.
Start to build an online portfolio by taking advantage of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Upwork ... really put the groundwork into this to properly establish an online presence. Post regularly about current projects, engage with other figures in the industry, and get the word out about how amazing your services are! This takes some work, but the payoff is outstanding.
Besides marketing yourself, why not take a break from the hard sales tactics and occasionally publish useful content for other freelancers? Try seeking collaboration with others and establish a mutually beneficial relationship!
Specializing is a great way to stand out from your competition and charge higher fees. But when choosing what to specialize in, it's important to consider your personal strengths and weaknesses.
Many freelancers don't want to take this step because they're afraid they'll lose clients. While you may lose some business in the short term, it will free you up to seek higher-paying clients and focus on your chosen area of expertise. When you focus on a smaller market, it's easier to find out what your customers need and to become known for what you're good at.
Roll up those sleeves and dive into some more research - this time on potential customers that need exactly what you offer. Develop a short and sweet pitch and a simple email template that can be tweaked as necessary (that bit will save you time when you're sending loads of emails to potential clients). As well, feel free to go ahead and engage with companies on social media. You don't have to be salesy, just be helpful, attentive, and establish a relationship!
Marketing will be your friend here, too. Learn how to effectively "sell yourself" and take full advantage of those social media platforms.
If possible, try to charge per project instead of per hour. It’s easier to overcome pricing objections if you can show your client what they will get out of investing in your services.
Now, obviously, this is easier said than done in some professions. Freelance translators, for example, are usually expected to charge per word or per hour. But customers will be more open to per-project pricing the more specialised you become and the better you get at positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
Are you targeting direct clients or agencies? You can charge direct clients more, but there's more hand-holding AND you don't get paid as much by agencies, but work comes in more easily. When you're just starting out, working with agencies can be an easy way to get your foot in the door and further build your portfolio.
What type of work do you enjoy? It's important to find a happy middle ground between what you're passionate about and what your customers want. It may take some soul-searching and some trial-and-error, but you will find what makes you happy and, in turn, you'll have a host of happy customers to boot!
It's always easier to sell to existing clients than potential clients. Focus on adding value and looking after the relationship. A cared-for client is more likely to chose you for repeat projects in the future! Offer great deals to repeat customers and follow up with them regularly on possible new projects/ventures.
Additionally, having a satisfied client base can turn into a type of snowball effect - a happy customer will recommend you to their network and, as a result, you can continue to build your roster of customers.
Get started off on the right foot with a solid, well-thought-out proposal. It makes things more official and it makes it easier to justify pricing!
Begin by thoroughly research the client you're wanting to reach out to - especially if you're planning a cold pitch. You'll want to be knowledgeable and well-versed on why your services would be a good fit for that potential client. Make sure you've got a quick example of your previous work to show your potential client, as well as a couple of referrals and/or testimonials to show your worth. Try to a build a template for your basic proposal that you can continuously refer back to in the long run - it will save you loads of time.
It may take several tries to get your proposal shaped into its most effective form, and it does take patience, but the payoff is worth it!
If you want to make more money as a freelancer, you can’t just rely on your professional skills, i.e. your expertise as a writer, graphic designer, photographer, virtual assistant or whatever it is you do. To have a successful freelance career, you need to have marketing and business skills.
Obviously, we can't all be marketing experts and masters of business, especially when just starting out, but it is a worthy endeavor. In your downtime, brush up on marketing skills and hone an essential business skill, such as bookkeeping. Trust me, you'll be satisfied with time well-spent as you continue to grow and expand your freelancing career.
Remember, when you're just getting started, things can be tough. You may get rejected, you may hit a dry spell, you might not get as many clients as you'd hoped on... The trick is to be fluid, flexible and make adjustments as you hit bumps in the road. As your skillset grows and you become more experienced, you can gradually increase your fees while expanding your customer base, and work your way down the path of making that 9-to-5 job a distant memory.
Continue putting yourself out there and making a name for yourself - and, before you know it, you'll have managed to #levelupyourgame more than you ever thought possible.