Freelancing is an increasingly international world, and therefore increasingly competitive. Workers often find themselves pitted against freelancers from countries where the cost of living is much lower, allowing them to undercut the market price.
But, rather than being tempted to undercharge, there are a few things to think about.
Charge for your expertise
Consider the experience, qualifications, knowledge and skills that you have. These are all things that would usually win you salary increases, both within the industry and in-country. So consider yourself promoted—and ensure you give yourself a wage rise that reflects your new post!
Charge for your time
If a project, through no fault of yours, takes longer than it should, add that extra time to your invoice.
Sometimes the initial brief from the client doesn’t truly reflect the scope of the work. Speak up quickly in situations like this, before your rate dwindles to £4 an hour! Keep it professional and polite, explain the situation, and give a revised quote. If it’s easier, agree to an hourly rate for the extra time you put in.
Charge more for a quick turnaround
If a client, particularly a regular that’s reasonable and friendly, asks you to do a job in a rush or out of work hours, you will probably do it if you can. It’s good to show willing and it helps to make you indispensable.
But, just like you would pay more postage for faster delivery, make it clear that the job will cost more. It will also help remind those clients who constantly push the limits that a full, detailed brief is the norm.
Charge more because you have employer responsibilities
You are your own boss and must therefore allocate yourself paid annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and any other time off that you require.
Think of it this way, if you want 4 weeks off every year, then you need to earn enough in the other 48 weeks to cover those 4 weeks. Remember this when you’re calculating how much money you need to live on a week—and add a twelfth!
You have to earn enough to cover planned and unexpected leave, or to pay for an insurance that will.
Don’t forget the tax man
Always keep an eye on your tax liabilities and be aware of what proportion of those invoice payments will be yours to keep. You should still be earning an adequate wage after paying the tax man.
Plan for the future too, with a pension plan
Employed people have their employers contributing to their pension, as well as themselves. Freelance self-employed types are on their own with the burden.
While you’ll get tax relief on your contributions, the money going in is solely out of your pocket (and out of that invoice you’ve just sent off).
Don’t undervalue yourself or the work you do. As a freelancer, you offer employers expertise and flexibility, but carry a great deal of financial responsibility. Make sure you’re charging an adequate rate.