Why Freelancers Should Never Work Cheaply
One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you can set your own pay rate. Its also one of the worst things about freelancing. There is a trap that many freelancers get into when they are first starting out that is very hard to recover from and this trap is charging cheaply in order to build your portfolio or for any other reason.
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Working cheaply does not have one single advantage to it in the long run, even though in the short term, it might seem like a good idea. To be honest, I made this mistake when I was first starting out because like many, I wanted to get work so badly and build my portfolio that nothing else mattered. I have also made this mistake when other situations occur, such as when work in the past was slow and I needed something to fill in the gaps a little bit. It backfired both times and it will backfire every single time.
Freelancers should never work cheaply, period. In a rare instance, you may be a person that doesn't need an income and you're just freelancing to take up some free time you have, but for most of us, it's what we do for a living and income counts. Providing freelance work for next to nothing can have a detrimental impact on your career and below I have provided you with the main reasons why freelancers should never work cheaply:
- If you work cheaply for one client, expect to work cheaply for the rest of them as well. From my experience, a lot of freelance work will come from referrals. If your client likes your work and it's cost effective, then he or she is going to pass on your name and email to other people that they know who need freelance projects completed. The emails or phone calls will more than likely go great until the point where you mention your fees. If what you're quoting the referral client is not an exact match for what you're charging the person who referred them, they are going to be offended, confused or ripped off and the potential job is out the door. What you charge now should be what you are honestly worth and what you want to charge for at least the next year.
- You may not be taken seriously by clients. Check out this conversation that happened to me when I was first starting out. I had done one project for the client and I wanted so badly to keep the work going, I quoted a ridiculously low price for the next project that they needed:
Client: I appreciate the low quote, but why are you quoting so low for so much work?
Me: Its not hard work.
Client: No, but it is still time consuming.
Me: Yes, it is.
Client: Then why? Your quote for our first project was fair and reflected correctly on the amount of time it would take a person to do it.
Me: I just thought I would give you a deal since the first project went so well.
Client: Once again, I appreciate the offer, but working for so little for so long is going to get frustrating.
I was over the top embarrassed and felt terrible because saying I am desperate to keep working for you would have been even more embarrassing. To make it worse, the client then made me quote a higher price..yes my client asked me to charge them more! You never want a client to end up feeling sorry for you and that's exactly what happened in this case. I was lucky enough to have an understanding client, but other clients may see this as a red flag and run as fast as they can.
- Working cheaply as a freelancer can also cause potential clients to believe that the quality of the work will be poor. I know first hand how competitive the freelance market is and there is always going to be someone willing to write an article for $1 or design a logo for $5. However, I have also had clients try to save money by finding someone to do work for that cheap only to return and inform me that the quality of work was not anywhere near what the quality of my work was. So while there will always be companies who hire the lowest bidder, there are always going to be those who do not because they feel the quality of work will not be what they need it to be.
- How are you going to pay your bills? If you rely on your freelance income to support yourself and/or your family then you absolutely need to make sure that you're charging enough to cover your bills and put a little in the bank as well. You also have business expenses to pay that need to get taken into account when you decide on what pay rate you're going to charge.
- How many hours per week do you want to work? If you set your pay rate too low, you may end up working 80 hours every week just to make ends meet. If working 80 hours is what you want then go for it, but if you still want to have a life away from your computer, then you're going to need to charge based on that.
Saying it's best to never fall into the trap of working more cheaply than you should is always easier said than done. I still have times where I have said I should have charged more but once a price is in place, there is not much you can do about it. The most effective thing that you can do is charge what you want to be paid right from the start so that you don't encounter the problems listed above.
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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 02/19/2020