When I began freelance about a year ago, I was lost on how to price myself. I knew what I’d get paid if this were a full time job. I knew my skill was high, my freelance experience low, and my expertise focused on whatever my jobs were at the time.
I dreaded quoting the price I felt was fair. The experts in freelance consistently say, “Don’t under-price yourself. Don’t work for pennies just to build a reputation.” I was ready to take a stand on my rates, but I still dreaded rejection.
I set my rate. I got clients. But to be honest, I didn’t pursue business because I was insecure about my rates, both “is it enough” and “is it too much.”
I also got a rejection, but I expected it. And maybe I was hoping for it. Trying for it, even. I figured, “If a client is not willing to pay this, they don’t value expert writing.” No hard feelings, just practical decision.
Increasing the Stakes
After two quarters and a new determination to make it in this biz, I decided it was time to give myself a raise. I am, in fact, a good writer. I am consistent, punctual, passionate, and professional. My skill is above average, and I am settled into this business.
So I increased my rates by 40%.
It sounds like more than it is. I’m still on the low end of professional standards.
I cringed when I communicated my new rates to my current clients, waiting for backlash and being fired. I even set my rate so I would get paid my regular rate after the Upwork fee. I was serious about this.
I was willing to go through with it, even if it meant starting from zero, but still I was nervous. And here is what happened.
One previously-freelance-now-small-business-owner client told me, “At some point you’re going to realize your services are worth way more than you are charging.”
The non-profit agreed with the new rates (which are still reduced from regular rate), because they saw the value in my services. (I am certain they can find and probably have other freelancers who charge less.)
After dozens of Upwork proposals, I finally got a bite. I gained a small business client on Upwork who was willing to pay a good rate for great product. This client was great to work with and has noted he will have more work in the future as they redo their marketing.
Work got better.
I was afraid raising my rates would set me back, but it’s actually made this business a lot better. My approach to the work is much less “I hope you like this and don’t fire me” and more “I’m pretty good at this. I know it. You know it. We’ve got some trust going on.”
And if someone doesn’t want to pay my rates for my services, they don’t value them. So I probably don’t want to work with them anyway.
Raising my rates not only raised my income, but it also raised my confidence and expectations.
At this point it’s almost like skydiving or getting a tattoo: all I can think about is the next time I raise my rates! (for the record, I’ve done neither)
So, be fair to yourself. Don’t undersell your services. Continuously reevaluate your rates. Seek out expert advice. And set yourself some challenging goals.
You might be surprised what happens when you push yourself. If you reach for the stars, you may just find you’re one of them.