Hey, I’m a freelancer!
It still weirds me out a little to say it out loud, but I’m beginning to accept the fact that I’ve made it through over a year of self-employment… and you know what?
It’s working! Outside the cubicle! Who expected that!?
So, now that I have a little time and experience under my belt, I thought I’d start sharing a few things that have been working for me. I’ve benefited from a lot of peer advice over the years, so I can only hope my thoughts might help someone else out there.
After attending a few blogger conferences in the past weeks, I realized that a lot of people are really unsure about how to establish rates. There really is no one right way to do it, as the amount of money you make has to work for you, and only you.
No one else can determine what your time is worth.
For freelance gigs, I charge by the hour. I did a bunch of research online about average rates in my area, considered my level of experience and education, and came up with a number I was comfortable with.
For blog work, I charge a per-post rate. It really varies depending on the size of the company, the purpose of the content and the time and effort involved.
But regardless of the type of work I’m doing, my main goal is to turn every client into a repeat client. In addition, I want these repeat clients to eventually pay me more than they paid me at the start, but I’ve never really been great at asking for a raise. It’s awkward, and so easy to put off. So, there’s one line I include every time I get into the “establishing rates” conversation with a potential new client.
It goes a little something like this:
“My hourly rate is $XX. Please note that I am happy to guarantee that rate for a period of 6 months for repeat clients, with no increases until…”
You can guarantee 6 months, 3 months, a year…whatever you like. But when you phrase it this way, you’re leaving the door open to discuss rate increases on a specific date (assuming the client becomes a regular) and you’re also leaving your client with the feeling that they are getting a deal. A personal promise from you that if they stick with your services, you’ll value them enough to guarantee your lower rate for a longer time.
Whether it really is a lower rate or not, only you will know. But if you sell it right, you’ll have a client that feels important and your future negotiation will be built right in. No awkwardness necessary.