I belong to numerous freelancing groups, and rates are always a big discussion topic. Naturally. We all need a certain amount of money to live. None of us want to feel like we’re being taken advantage of.
As I see it, there are three routes to take with rates.
Low end rates
This is a good place to be if you prefer executional work that does not require senior-level strategic thinking or leadership. That may mean that your work is less stressful in some ways, because people expect less from you. Depending on your living expenses, however, you may need to work longer hours than others to bring in enough income.
Myth buster: Some may think low end rates mean that you don’t eliminate any possible opportunities. I’m going to disagree. I’ve declined providers whose rates seem too low, as I worry that they won’t be able to give me the guidance I’m looking for. If I don’t know anything about a topic (like web design or SEO), I need you to be able to counsel me and make recommendations based on your experience and strategic abilities.
This is a sweet spot if you want to get paid for a combination of thought leadership and execution. The big advantage here is that you’re making decent money but not so much money that people force you to do song and dance numbers to prove you’re worth it. It also means your sales cycle is not too gruesomely long.
The downside: this is a rate at which you may develop longer-term relationships which can morph into dicey quasi-employee relationships. Clients expect a fair bit from you because they pay you decently. But they can start to push boundaries and go over lines. If you relate to this scenario, I wrote this post for you.
Spoiler: this is where I sit, so I’m biased, but I think it’s the best position. If you’re wondering what an ideal mid-range rate is, it’s the one where people hesitate a little bit, but ultimately hire you without haggling. If prospects aren’t hesitating at all, consider a rate hike.
A lot of people think this is the holy grail and for good reason – you get to work less and make more. Many freelancers also equate higher rates with respect.
A word of caution: This space comes with a downside, and that’s that people who pay premium rates expect a premium experience. Get ready to offer the spa experience of whatever service you offer. Extreme levels of professionalism. Impeccable thought leadership. Amazing customer service. All. The. Time.
Also know that this is not the space for the faint of heart, because people are going to call you on that rate. You have to know you’re worth it. And you have to be able to communicate that.
Freelance Rates – The Big Take-Away
The thing I want you to take-away from this post is that you get to choose your rate. The market does not choose it for you. There will be people willing to pay you for your services in any of these categories. They all have strengths and they all have weaknesses.
Choose intentionally, as I recommend you do with all things in your freelance practice. Choose also based on the type of work you want to do, not what your ego thinks you should do (which is generally play smaller than you need to).
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