As a successful freelancer you should never under-price your services. When you under charge you’re not only hurting yourself but the whole freelance industry (feeling some weight on your shoulders yet?) By under charging, it leads to rapidly falling prices that results in other freelancers finding it impossible to charge a “reasonable” rate.
No price like, well no price!
This cutting-your-own-throat pricing is particularly rampant online. With the increase in internet based start-ups, entrepreneurs and just flat out dodgy people constructing badly written sites with the express interest of luring people in long enough to throw a product at them, hoping it will stick like some kind of comedic pie.
These people attempt to pay insanely low rates like £300 (around $500 for any US readers) for 200 articles. Now no self-respecting freelancer writer is going to accept that little money for all that work, however the inter is vast and there are writers elsewhere in the world willing to kill themselves at the keyboard for that tiny amount of cash. They could be poor, they could be fresh out the gates-eyes wide and full of stars or they could just be idiots, either way they are out there.
Using freelance writing as a working example, every time a writer accepts these insanely low rates, it makes it increasingly harder for other writers to make a living (how are those shoulders holding up?). This maybe the leading reason for so many people opting out of the online revolution entirely (least when it comes to writing) that said, there are clients out there who respect writers. But it becomes harder and harder to convince a clients to pay – as an example $1.00 a word when someone out there (I know it’s you Trevor) is willing to work for £0.01 a word.
Not a government watch dog, but still watching
In addition to worrying about how well your fellow freelancer can make a living, you should also spy on them. Its ok I mean competitively. Some will be better than you, other will be worse. The rates will change and so will the quality of work, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be the best (but that can be a major help) just good enough to get what you want.
Successful freelancers will check out the competition. What’s working for that guy? How come he didn’t land that project? It all helps to show you where you stand in the food chain. Information has always been power, and the internet is full of information. Social media is full of freelancers looking to connect, to share stories about clients (good and bad) tips, tricks and to generally brag.
Freelancing websites such as Elance.com can also be a great place to find potential allies and enemies (I’m watching you Trevor) in the fight against cubicle oppression. So in summary don’t undercharge – because it makes it harder for me to get coffee, also that if you freelance… they are watching you.