November 16, 2021

How to calculate and set your rates as a freelancer

Written by Olivia Bufton

While Jessie J might just want to make the world dance, anyone who’s spent even a bit of their life working freelance will know that actually, it is all about the price tag. Sorry, Jessie. Knowing what to charge for your freelance services can be a bit of a minefield, whether you’re brand new to freelancing or if you have a few years of experience under your belt. Set them too high, and you might put off prospective clients. Set them too low, and you might struggle to pay the bills at the end of the month or be seriously undervaluing your own work. But how do you know what’s a fair price to charge? In this guide, we share our top tips for finding rates that suit you and your business. 

Compare your rates against other freelancers 

When your work is largely carried out as an individual, there’s few opportunities to compare with others what they’re charging, and sometimes setting your prices can feel a little bit like a shot in the dark. If you have a network of freelancer friends, you can try asking a few trusted people what they charge – especially if they have a similar level of experience and a similar skillset to yours. Online freelancer networks might also be a good place to look.  

In some industries, you might be able to find where others have published their rates. For example, the website Journo Resource collates the actual rates received by freelancers writing for various publications so that you can see how your fees compare. You may be able to find a similar resource for your sector, or if not you could always do your own research. You can search online for freelancers offering similar services and with similar levels of experience, and see if you can find an indication of their prices on their websites or social media. 

Consider your experience and specialism 

Just as in traditional employment, where you would expect pay rises throughout your career and the opportunity to seek promotion, your rates should reflect your experience and the level of skill and expertise that you’re bringing to the projects that you work on. An experienced freelancer can expect to command a rate significantly higher than someone just starting out. When setting your rates, make sure to factor in any relevant qualifications, professional accreditations and experience, and price accordingly. Although it might sometimes seem like a good idea to price low to win the work, this can sometimes have the negative effect of making you seem inexperienced or give the impression that your work will be of lower quality. 

Pricing is also partly an issue of supply and demand. If you work in a niche or have a specialist skillset that few other freelancers provide, then you will be able to charge a higher rate. On the other hand, if you’re constantly getting pipped to the post for projects and ending up with not enough work to fill your time, you could experiment with dropping your rate slightly to see if that wins you more clients – though do make sure you’re not dropping too low. 

How to set your charges 

There are also different frameworks that freelancers can use for pricing. You might want to set an hourly or daily rate by which you charge for your time. You might want to quote on a per-project basis or a per-unit cost. For example, a copywriter might charge by word count, a web designer might charge per page, a social media content creator per post. As we’ve discussed before on the blog, it’s also good to think about how you will deal financially with things like scope creep – where a client keeps requesting additional work that is beyond the scope of the original brief or agreed-upon work. It’s good to stipulate somewhere in your contract what the rate would be to cover any extras. 

How to increase your rates 

Eventually, there may come a time where you want to increase your rates. You might need to compensate for increases in the cost of living – especially if you have been charging the same amount for a few years now. Or you may want to increase your rates to reflect your greater experience, a new skill you’ve learned or a new qualification you’ve achieved. If you have more work or offers of work than you can manage, this may also be a sign that you should increase your prices. Any client that truly values your work will be willing to pay a fair rate for it, particularly if you give them plenty of notice. But it can be a tricky subject to broach, especially with long-term clients. We’ve got some top tips on the blog for how you can increase your rates as a freelancer

Get paid 

Whatever you set your rates at, one of the most crucial parts of any project for a freelancer is the moment where you turn in the invoice and the client pays you. Except, sometimes, they don’t. Research from IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, suggests that 60% of self-employed people have experienced delays in payment from a client. Freelancers spend an average of 20 days per year chasing unpaid invoices.  

That’s why Dinghy created Freelancer Assist – the care package for freelancers that comes bundled with every insurance policy we sell. It means you don’t have to go it alone. If you have an unpaid invoice of more than £200, we’ll provide legal support to help you recover the debt. This allows you to concentrate on getting on with other work, not chasing for payment. Freelancer Assist also includes access to legal, tax and counselling helplines. Dinghy’s specialist insurance cover for freelancers gives you the flexibility to switch your cover into lite mode when you’re not working, saving you money while you’re in between jobs, on holiday or just taking some time out. Get a quote straight to your inbox in seconds today by visiting our website

About Olivia Bufton

Read more blog posts by Olivia Bufton


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