Freelance life

5 rules for getting your pricing pitch-perfect

Many if not most freelancers share this problem.

They’re good or even great at what they do…

… but they can’t figure out, or are to shy to ask for, what they’re really worth.

Here are my five rules for setting your fees.

Rule #1 Forget about charging for your time.

That’s how shelf-stackers are paid. That’s how labourers get paid.

The work is monotonous, unskilled and easily learned. When anyone can do it there’s no problem filling jobs so it’s a buyer’s market.

You are offering your own skills and experience. Others can do your job, but not the way you do it.

Rule #2 Charge by the project instead.

Anything your client asks you to do can be packaged up as a project. (Except working at their office.)

Pricing by the project means you get paid more for working less as your skills and speed increase.

If you are asked to work at a client’s office AND you accept whatever they tell you they pay, this particular article isn’t going to help you. Sorry.

Rule #3 Ring three local plumbers for a quote on changing a tap

She's happy - after all, she makes more than many freelance copywriters.
She’s happy – after all, she makes more than many freelance copywriters.

Consider that this job will take them about 15 minutes

Multiply the average quote by four to get their nominal hourly rate. Compare it to yours.

Think about where you should be valued in comparison to a plumber (who, let’s remember, is also a skilled professional).

Rule #4 Unless they say “No”, they haven’t said “no”.

Remember, when a client takes a sharp breath at the fee you just quoted, they aren’t rejecting it.

Be ready to explain the value of your services, especially in terms of what they will get out of them.

Resist the temptation to explain how you “justify” your fee. Tell them it’s up to them to justify hiring you based on return on investment (ROI).

Rule #5 Follow the money

The closer the service you provide is to the money they make, the more you can charge.

A copywriter writing a sales letter for a newsletter publisher who expects to make £50,000 a year in sales can probably charge more than a designer creating a pop-up ad for a free newsletter.

In conclusion

Think of the money you are paid (and ask for) as an investment your client is making.

They are expecting ROI. Deliver that and your fee ceases to be an issue.

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