How to Feel Confident Charging More for Your Freelance Work

Carol Tice

Businessman pushes wheelbarrow of moneyBy Kristen Hicks

When I first started freelancing, I spent some serious time doing research. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into.

I was confident in my skills and knowledge and knew I was a good, responsible worker. But I found myself hesitant to charge the kinds of rates my research showed were typical for freelancers offering similar services.

Like many people, I’m timid when it comes to talking about money – even when that talk determines how much I’ll be making.

I just didn’t have the confidence to charge what my work was worth.

At first, I attributed my wavering confidence to a lack of experience.

But here’s the funny thing — it didn’t go away with more experience. I got stuck in a cycle of doing good work for low rates.

“After this next project,” I’d think, “I’ll have the experience I need to feel more confident.”

But that next project would come and go. No change.

At a certain point, it became clear this was a problem I needed to get past. I put some serious thought into what I needed to do and know to feel confident when naming my rate with a client.

Here are the tactics I found to be useful:

1) Do the research

If you know what other writers in your field are making, you’re in a stronger negotiating position. Picture a scenario where you name a price and a potential client balks – if you’ve done the research, you know they’re the ones underestimating the value of the work you do, and you won’t be tempted to back down.

Check out Ed Gandia’s Freelance Industry Report and the EFA’s Editorial Rates listing to get a sense of what’s normal.

2) Don’t forget those extra freelance expenses

You’re paying more in taxes than employees do. You have to spend time on accounting, marketing, and education that no one’s paying you for.

You have to cover your own benefits, like health care, vacation time and retirement. So when you bid, remember there’s a reason those freelance rates look high those of us coming from the employee world.

3) Realize what you’re truly worth

Even if you’re new to the game, chances are there are unique benefits you have that increase your value.

Are you good with deadlines? Is your grammar perfect? Has your long-held interest in financial markets, education, or computer programming made you an expert on the subject?

For me, I had a valuable research- and writing-intensive college experience behind me and a couple years of writing marketing materials professionally.

Make a list of your strengths and keep it in mind any time those nagging doubts creep back in.

4) Talk to other writers and freelancers

If you don’t have many freelancers in your circle of friends and family, seek out relationships online via social media or in online communities like the Freelance Writer’s Den.

Keep an eye out for local networking events where you can make some new contacts in your community. Having other writers to talk to makes all the difference any time you’re not sure about what you’re charging or how much you’re worth.

Remember: When you charge too little, you undercut yourself, and your equally hard-working and talented peers.

We’re a community. Let’s help each other out while we help ourselves — by demanding what we’re worth.

Kristen Hicks is a freelance copywriter based in Austin, TX who specializes in content marketing to help businesses build better brands and strengthen SEO.

 

42 Comments

  1. Karen

    Hi; I asked this question in different form elsewhere: do all trade journals do work-for-hire contracts? Also, isn’t in unusual for a press pass not to include food, and for food for a 3-day non-luxury conference to cost $180?

    This is in context of a pub who wishes me to cover a 3-day conference – I drive 1 hr there/back, pay for my own parking and food. If I wish to eat w/everyone else @ conf. I must pay $180, as per conference organizers. This seems odd.

    Pub pays .30 word, wants 1 article – oh yeah, work/hire/all rights contract. Carol has said leverage for other assignments, other pubs. I agree. However, the economics seem strange. Thx!

    • Carol Tice

      Answered elsewhere but think I forgot the food — really depends on the conference, what journalist perks are included.

      Some may not officially include food, but there is often a media area stocked with drinks & snacks that you can nearly live off.

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