Freelancer Pricing - How do I price my work?
Updated: Jan 3
As a freelancer or business owner, one of the biggest challenges we face is charging a fair price not only for our customers but also for ourselves. With common obstacles such as imposter syndrome in the way of us raising our prices, how can we make sure we’re comfortable with our prices while also charging what we’re worth?
Over the last 10 years of trial and error, we’ve found the 5 best questions to ask yourself for creating fair pricing for your work. This will work best for those of you who do photography, videography, editing, graphic design, or similar artistic professions looking to narrow down what your work is actually worth.
Let’s get started!
Do I want to charge hourly or do I want to charge per project?
Some jobs are best charged hourly. The best candidates for hourly pricing will be jobs that you don’t find to be very grueling and that you can confidently do within 5 hours or less. When we think of hourly jobs, we often jump to 9-5 style pricing of $8-$25 an hour. However, when you’re freelancing, you have a lot more things to consider in your hourly pricing.
As a freelancer, you’re going to want to be saving anywhere from 15-30% of your income for taxes. You also need to factor in your monthly cost of software like the Adobe Suite or other similar programs. What about your health insurance and gas? These are all big costs that need to be added to your hourly rate.
If you’re new to the freelancer life and have a smaller portfolio, you can confidently start with a $50-$75 an hour rate. While it might seem like a lot, in a 2-hour job, you’ve made only $100-$150 and you now owe the government around $30-$45 of those dollars. If this is your only job this month, you also owe Adobe $50 and now you are only left with $55 for 2 hours worth of your time. You are worth more than that.
If you’re a recurring member of the freelance life, hourly rates of $150 aren’t abnormal. Most agencies I’ve worked with charge $150 as hourly compensation and you should consider this as well if you have the portfolio to back it up.
Many jobs are best charged per project. These jobs are ones that require a lot of pre-production work, have very specific client needs, or will not be recurring. When pricing these jobs, an itemized quote to send to the client is the best course of action.
For example, let’s say a client needs a photoshoot. It’s going to be out of town, a studio is needed, you’ll need an assistant, and the client needs it by the following week. You’ll need to factor in all of this information when deciding how much it is going to cost.
In this example shoot, here is how we would itemize and price:
Out of town travel expenses: 2 hours of driving - $100
4 hour photoshoot: $150/hour - $600
4 hours of a photo assistant: $25/hour - $100
4 hours of studio rental: $125/hour - $500
Editing time: 2 hours @ $100/hour- $200
Editing Rush Fee: $150
Job total: $1,650
Being able to break down each individual portion of the project, how many hours it’ll take, how much driving will be involved, if you’ll need assistance or props, and what sort of production and planning you need to do will help better price your invoice. Each project is different which is why it is often better to approach pricing on a case-by-case basis instead of package-based.
Do my skills allow me to do this job quicker than average?
While it might seem logical to charge less for less time, why should you be punished for being efficient? If you’re good at your job, you should be compensated accordingly. When jobs you’re good at and can complete quickly come your way, make sure you charge your worth and add tax.
Is your schedule full or are you more open?
Time is a valuable commodity, and it’s one that you should keep in mind when you’re sending out a quote. When your schedule is full and taking on another job would be cutting into your free time, make sure to charge a price that will make the extra effort worthwhile. This additional charge can be a fee added on at the end of a regular price or it can be an inflated hourly rate depending on what you’re most comfortable with.
While you might be thinking you cannot raise your prices like this for fear you’ll lose clients, but in this case, that is actually the point. With a full schedule, every single minute of peace that you’re losing for a client deserves to be properly compensated. If the potential client really wants to work with you, they will either pay the inflated rate that you’ll enjoy the rewards of, wait for a better time for you, or find another freelancer. In all of these cases, you’re still winning. Impatient clients are not worth overexerting for.
Is there travel involved?
When pricing for travel, there are a lot of factors to consider. To start, establish how far you’re willing to travel for no extra pay. For example, we personally will travel to 3 counties in our area for no additional charge. This is approximately 50 miles in every direction of our home base. You can choose a smaller area if you’re not willing to go that far, but find a happy medium for you. Many freelancers offer extended areas of business, but at an additional cost per extra mile outside their operating area. Typically that rate is around $0.50 per additional mile.
If your project is outside of your operating area and requires a flight, the client’s fee should be covering your travel expenses. Flights, car rides/rentals, accommodations, and any food required to do your job should be on the client invoice. If you stay in a location outside of the project dates, the rest of that should not be on the client’s invoice.
What is the current market rate for this type of work?
While many people think talking about money is taboo, it is actually very beneficial to discuss money with other freelancers…ESPECIALLY when you’re starting out. I just looked at an old invoice from when I just started photography and I only charge $650 for 2 days worth of work for a company worth MILLIONS of dollars. Not knowing what the average photographer, videographer, or designer in your area charges can potentially put you at risk of SEVERELY undercharging or vastly overcharging and losing clients left and right.
If you don’t know any freelancers personally, look on websites and see if people have package rates or call up other businesses and ask for a quote on a potential fake project. Having a range of numbers to go off of is a great way to ensure you’re charging a price that is fair to yourself, other freelancers, and the client.
It can be hard to add money to the creative equation, but if you want to make a living achieving your freelance dreams, you have to be realistic. Ask yourself each of these questions & make sure you’re charging a price you can live on and be comfortable with. If you have more questions about freelance pricing and how to best attack your financial business goals, feel free to reach out to us and take advantage of our more causal consulting services!