As a fresh freelancer, you need to learn how to price your work. Typically, you will need to set the price on the project every single time. Some freelancers work in a system in which they price the whole project (e.g., they out a price tag on the website that they agree to develop) while others charge per hour. In either case, you will have the same struggle: how much can I request so that both sides are happy?
Many budding freelancers tend to put too low numbers on their work in the beginnings of their freelance careers. They agree to deliver their services at a little to no price for the sake of building their portfolio in the early stages of their business. In some areas of the market, this might be necessary as your image will depend on testimonials from your former clients.
This is often the case if you are thinking of services heavily based on the human factor, as they are subject to the client’s personal opinion and valuation, e.g., coaching, teaching, photography, graphic design, or writing—as opposed to services that have more objective market value, e.g., data science, web design, or accountancy.
If you are thinking of going in this direction, remember that you still need to start pricing your services as soon as you possibly can—preferably as soon as you collect a few testimonials, and way before you reach the limbo in which your clients get used to the fact that you work for (almost) free, and are no longer willing to pay. Also, mind that clients who pay, are more committed. Furthermore, paradoxically, they tend to value your work higher than those who get it for free. And if they are happy with the service, they recommend it to more people on average than those who got a freebie. It is a counterintuitive, psychological effect that you should be aware of.
But there is yet another, even deeper problem than just “Which price tag shall I put on my services?” Many professionals never start their freelancing careers only because they don’t believe that they have competencies that they might put a price tag on in the first place. They are asking themselves, “Would anyone want to pay for my services?”
Well, if you ever had a job, it means that you do have the competencies necessary to do the job already—the difference between working as an employee and working as a freelancer only lies in the way of organizing your work and building relations with the beneficiaries of your work. If you never had a job but you have a gut feeling that freelancing might be for you, it is probably good to first go for some internship to get industry experience in your area of interest, and within that period, intensively work on building your professional network.
If you still feel insecure about your chances to become a successful freelancer, just ask yourself, “Have I ever ordered freelance services?” All of us did—at least a few times in our lives. Handymen to fix our houses, private tutors to prepare us for important exams, gardeners, graphic designers, web developers, legal advisers, tourist guides, wedding photographers, nannies to take care of our kids, specialists in thousands of other fields.
And now, the question is: what are the good memories that we hold after all these encounters? Do we remember our favorite freelancers because they were geniuses? Or rather, because they were kind, witty, dedicated, collaborative, optimistic, patient to take all our comments on board, willing to improve when necessary, ready to leave their comfort zone and learn something new to meet our expectations. Are you a person that fits this description? There you go!