We all start being freelancers thinking it's going to make our lives easier - we would put an end to underpaid work, we can manage our own time and best of all - do only the projects we love. If you are reading this, then you know that it's not all that perfect.
Sure, we get to choose the clients and learn something with every new project, but there is still a certain uncertainty when pricing our work, how do we do it right? There is a lot to consider, for sure. Of course that you wouldn't want to charge as much for the projects you really enjoyed and supported, for those you are doing for a friend and delivering work for a non-profit or charity.
Things to consider when pricing your work are the details of the project - what is required from you to do? Also, you would want to adapt the price to the scale of the company that is hiring you, as well as the number of revisions you will do.
First thing you need to do right is your project proposal. When writing your project proposal you want to make sure you are scheduling the deadline you can meet, offer all the details of what content you will provide and do not undercharge your work! For the amount of working hours, you need to charge adequately; otherwise you are risking a failure of the project you cannot dedicate to.
When pricing your work for a client, bear in mind that you are not offering just your time, but also all the experience and skills - a lifetime of learning and dedication to your clients needs. If a client suggests that you are too expensive, you need to be confident about the uniqueness of your offer - know what it is that will make the client happy, that you can offer and no one else on the market can? Why are you the obvious choice if someone wants to invest in their brand and the future of the company? Feel free to use all the work you ever did to prove your worth - content clients, good reviews, portfolio of chosen projects you are proud of and a clear vision of how will the work you do help this clients business for years to come.
Often, when you look for advice of how to price your work, you come across many equations of how other freelancers figured it out for themselves. In simple terms, though, this comes down on how to break even by doing what you do. This mind frame can help you choose projects according to your realistic needs, be paid well enough to live the lifestyle you want and invest in your future.
Make a clear calculation of your monthly expenses (rent, food, bills, etc), have a number of how much do you have to make per month in order to survive. Many freelancers rush into underpaid projects which take them too much time, without thinking of how they will cover their life expenses at the end of the month.
Second important number to this equation is the amount of hours you can/want to work per day. Decide for yourself what is the perfect amount of work every day - whether you will work four hours before and four after lunch; whether you will or will not work on weekends - make a clear schedule for your perfect daily balance.
I met designers who work best at night. Their whole wage was centered on how many nights a project will take them, and thus their lives adapted to their working mode. Everyone has their own rhythm, which is why 9 to 5 working hours are not your first choice. Best part of being a freelancer is being able to adapt your work style to your biorhythm.
When you have the numbers stating how much you spend per month and how many hours you will work per month, you can make a calculation of how much money you need to make per hour. Use this number as a referral, as a minimum of all minimums you should charge per hour. With this in mind, you need to take care of your monthly savings, think of things such as health insurance, retirement savings and other grown-up to-do's.
In addition to this number, you should be realistic oh how much you are worth and what is the optimum of how much you want to be paid in ideal circumstances. This will help you work for more expensive projects and save money for a holiday, renovating the apartment, joining the gym and other activities and joys which differentiate your life from surviving.
A friendly advice for your yearly budget is to consider how much you want to invest in improving your skills and better equipment for your work. Remember - the best job is the one where you get to learn every day and grow both on personal and professional level.
About the author:
Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.