ITK: How to Price Yourself in the Freelance Market


Unless you are positive you’re going to win Powerball tonight (which, may the grace of good fortune be on your side), you are going to have to hustle this year. That means knowing how to price yourself. It’s a balancing act— aim too high and the client might offer the job to someone else. Price yourself too low, and you’ll end up resentful at the high work load and low payout. 

We have some tips on how to evaluate your worth and how to deal with tricky situations with clients. 

1. Don't suggest an hourly rate. 

Think of your work as value-based. If you are helping a brand grow their online presence, you shouldn't price yourself based on the amount of time you are going to spend on the job. You should price yourself based on the value you are going to add and your level of expertise. The better you get at something, the faster you work (usually), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be paid for your skill level. 

2. Dealing with the "we don't have a big budget," pickle. 

It might be true, it might not be, but when a client says this to you it's often a red flag that they aren't going to want to pay. It's also a way to undermine your confidence from the gate. Telling you there is no budget will make you question what you're worth-- don't let it. If you have a set rate, stick to it, and if they can't pay that, then it's up to you to decide if the ends justify the means. If you think it's a relationship that will pay in the long run, that's a decision only you can make. 

3. Compare and contrast, but don't undersell yourself based on the market. 

Look into what other people are being offered for the same service, but if you think it's too low for you, don't fall to market pressure. A simple way to find your number is to divide the high-average yearly salary of someone in your position who works full time by the number of months you'll be collaborating with a client. You want to start on the high end because most of the time you will get a counter-offer.

4. Quote yourself confidently. 

 Don't be afraid of that big number. Looking at it as a whole can seem intimidating, but sending a confident proposal that shows a client that you believe in your worth and your work, may instill the same confidence in them.

5. Offer your services in tiers.

Be explicit about what services you can provide for different prices. The more specific you can be about deliverables for price points, the more likely a client is to sign on. Tiers also gives you wiggle room for negotiation. For example, if the client is into "tier 2" with one additional service you're offering in "tier 1," you can come back and say, "I'm willing to add in X service for X extra."  

6. Asking point blank if there is a budget.

If you don't know where to start, you can put the initial price point on the potential client. There's really only one way to do this: directly. "How much are you willing to spend?" will send the wrong message. Asking if there is a budget, will not. 

7. There is no ax+b=c formula.

There’s no right answer to price yourself. At the end of the day, everyone has had different kinds of experience put on their resume, has different skills, and all have worked for different rates in the industry. If you’re confident in your price, have compared your rate based on average market pricing, and have considered all of your skills, experience, and value, you’ll be able to come up with a rate that will make sense to you. If it doesn’t make sense to a potential client, oh well. ¯\_()_/¯ Like Tinder and Bumble, you’ll eventually find a perfect match that will understand your self-worth and value.