Charging for what you love

Charging for what you love

One of the most difficult thing about Freelance work is getting paid. To begin with, quite often companies will offer work in exchange for exposure or experience, and this is quite commonly seen amongst people who are studying creative subjects at university going into voluntary apprenticeship programmes, but some studies have shown that this has very little effect on whether future employers will actually employ you, and in some cases, it actually has a negative effect, suggesting that knowing your worth before you start working portrays you as a confident and reliable person.

It is difficult to know where to start. There are no regulations, there are no rules, and everything feel likes a random guess. It is difficult to establish the balance between overcharging, which is likely to scare away potential employers, and undercharging, which undersells your abilities and can create financial problems and also problems with trying to earn more later as you may be pigeon-holed as a "cheap employee. It is important to remember that your skills are valuable, otherwise there would be no market for them, but it is also important to stay competitive.

Before quoting your price, there are a few things you should consider. It helps to do some research and to find out how much other freelancers working in the same industry and in the same field are charging for their services. It is also difficult when you are paid by the project instead of paid an hourly wage. Sometimes it helps to tally up how long you feel each piece of work will take and to figure out if the total wages you are receiving are reflective of the time you have put into it, but don't forget to include the time it takes for planning and all the other downtime included in producing the final product, because even if it is not productive time it still has to be accounted for. If you are working on a long project, maybe it is a good idea to add on an extra day or two on the end when you are making initial estimations as you never know what could happen to delay your finish, and this will leave you with slightly more flexibility and breathing space.

A good way to calculate a rate is to figure out how much a week you would expect to earn and how many hours you would expect to work to obtain that figure including all your downtime relating to the business. If you do some simple maths you can come up with an hourly rate which might start to point you in the right direction.

Sometimes you have to be flexible with how much you charge, but it is a good idea to start off charging high on the off chance that they accept that price, but be prepared to bring this price down, keeping in mind a reasonable absolute minimum that you are not prepared to work below. It is very easy for the company to push down your hourly rate, but very difficult for you to ask for more and to push this up, hence why it is a good idea to start at the top.

Another difficulty is sometimes getting paid. Once you have provided the finished product, the company has less motivation to send you the money, so sometimes it is a good idea to either charge before you start working, or, as is quite commonly seen these days, to charge for half or a proportion of it to work as a guarantee. Obviously if your client pays you up front, you are under more pressure to adhere to any strict deadlines to keep them happy and returning for more work.

It always pays to have a Paypal account set up, as many companies, particularly when you are working remotely, will opt to pay your wages this way instead of as a transaction to your bank account.

It is often frustrating trying to obtain your money, and it sometimes feels very rude to ask, but without wages you can't afford to pay your bills or put food on the table, and while it is often difficult, it'