You may love being a freelancer. You may love the flexibility and work life balance. You may even love the actual work. Given the choice, nobody would do a job they hated. You should, however, never lose sight of the fact that you are a business. You should regularly review what you charge your clients. Here are five signs it’s time to review yours.
You’ve Never Done it Before
How long have you been a freelancer? One year, five years? When was the last time you put your prices up? You probably started with low rates, looking at what others were charging and undercutting them based purely on your lack of experience. You probably stuck with those prices out of fear or because you found it got you a steady stream of work. You’re probably afraid that work would dry up or even that you’d lose your existing clients. Trust me, you won’t lose clients who value your work. Your cost of living goes up and you must cover this no matter how well you are doing.
You’re Considerably Cheaper Than Competitors
For Upwork freelancers, it’s an idea to keep an eye on what others in your area are charging. Make sure you compare like for like – don’t compare yourself to newbies or to people in countries where the cost of living is considerably lower. Outside of the mass content platforms, try doing some research on people in your local area, ascertain their rates and adjust your costs accordingly. There is no harm in undercutting them, but don’t provide dirt cheap costing. If clients or prospective clients regularly say “wow, that’s cheap” it should be an alarm bell – not a source of pride.
You Have Specialist Knowledge/Skills
Do you stagger your prices based on such things as volume, the level of research needed or your personal skill set? You probably should. After all, if you have a medical doctorate and want to make a career as a writer, people should be prepared to pay more for your expertise. I once had a potential client contact me on Elance wanting to pay me $1/100 words to write about history and archaeology for his web magazine. That was low, even then, but I decided early on that people who want to harness the research, writing and analytical skills I learnt during my BA in archaeology and my MA in landscape archaeology, they would have to be prepared to pay more.
You’re Getting Too Much Work
Is there such a thing as “too much work”? Trust me, there is. We’ve all been there. In my second autumn as a freelancer during October I had two days off – a Saturday and a Sunday. At the end of the year, I decided to put my prices up. I earnt what was then a lot of money but looking back didn’t seem adequate compensation for the hours I put in. My rates are now at a much more sensible price for somebody with around 3-4 years of experience. Although October-December is still a busy period for me with some bumper paydays, it’s nowhere near as frantic. Also, if you’re reticent to make the price increase permanent, don’t be afraid to stagger your prices. Put them up during busy periods and down during quiet periods.
Nobody Ever Challenges Your Prices
This goes beyond “wow, you’re cheap!” You can expect some potential clients to challenge your cost. Clients from the developing world expect to pay the same sorts of rates they pay to people in their own country. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about clients in your own country who understand the current cost of living. If they have to “clear that costing with the boss” or say “pretty much what I expected” then the chances are you’re on the right track for what you presently charge. If you never receive a single challenge for your price, try putting it up.