A successful career as a freelance web designer requires hard work and dedication to your craft. But above all, you have to be good at what you do. In such a competitive global market, your talent is one of the areas that will help you stand out from the rest. It’s part of what keeps you in demand and keeps you in business.
However, staying busy does not always lead to financial success. This is often because we do not need to price our services relative to the level of service we provide. In this line of work, too many of us sell ourselves short when it comes to making money.
Often, being a freelancer means working alone. We call the shots when it comes to our business.
And, because our strong point is usually design (and not business), it can be difficult to properly assess the true value of what we do. There is no financial guru to set us on the right course. It’s all up to us.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the perils of pricing and some things you can do to make sure you don’t undersell your hard work.
When you look around at how much a website costs, you find an incredible amount of variation. Many agencies charge through the roof (they have employees to pay), and freelancers are a combination of being too low and maybe a little overpriced. Where you are inside can be confusing.
In my career, I have often associated pricing with my sense of self-worth. Because I work alone and am mostly self-taught, I thought of myself as a small time player. This had nothing to do with the actual results of my work – more of a mental picture of who I am. As a result, I have often undervalued my services.
In retrospect, this was a mistake. The value of your work is a reflection of the quality of what you produce and your ability to satisfy clients. Your sense of self-worth has nothing to do with it. But that’s a problem unique to freelancers. It is best to look objectively at your strengths and all the positive things you have to offer.
Cost Determinants (Beyond Project Requirements)
Now that we’ve taken personal feelings out of the equation, it’s time to think about what matters most when it comes to finding out what’s worth your time and effort.
Of course, we know that the actual requirements of a project should be a big factor. But there are other things to consider, including:
Experience and Expertise
Formal education may play some role in determining price, but experience should also count. Think about the types of projects you’ve worked on and how that helps you find the best solution for your clients.
And if you specialize in something – whether it’s PHP or front-end design – you should at least consider an expert in that area. Expert time should not come cheap.
The demands on Your Time
If you’re always busy, it probably means you’re doing something right. The busier you are, the more it will cost to take a piece of your time. On the other hand, when things aren’t going so well, you may be more open to pricing your services to sell.
However, you should not lower yourself too much. You still have that experience and expertise to draw on – and that’s worth something.
If you set pricing on a per-project basis, this means that prices should increase as the client’s timeline decreases. When a client is in a hurry, it puts more pressure on you to get the job done within a tight time window. Make sure you are compensated for that extra effort.
Getting the Most Out of What You Do
It can be uncomfortable to get a realistic representation of your worth to clients. In my case, I love what I do – regardless of the money involved. So, it feels weird to sit there and make a case for why I need to charge more. But it’s an internal dialogue worth having on many levels.
First of all, it is extremely difficult to achieve any meaningful growth when you consistently undercut your work. Even if you are earning every minute of the working day, you may struggle to pay the bills.
To keep your career on an upward trajectory, you have to decide what your services are worth.
In addition, you may end up working with clients who will nickel and dime you for everything as a result of pricing you too low. The experience seems not worth it. Instead, focus on bringing in slightly higher paying gigs that will strengthen your portfolio. It will increase your confidence and attract the attention of the other clients in this class as well.
Your goal should not be to become the richest freelancer in history. Rather, it should be about allowing yourself to grow while making enough money to live the life you want. The first step on that path is finding your worth.