How to calculate your freelance rate | Web design | Creative Bloq
How to calculate your freelance rate
Don’t sell yourself short! Cole Henley explains how freelancers can accurately gauge what they should be charging clients.
When I started working freelance I had no idea what was an acceptable rate to charge.
I knew what I used to earn as an employee and how much I needed to survive, but not what I wanted – or even could – charge.
What we sell
To better gauge what to charge we first need to have a clear understanding of what it is that we sell. Although most of us think we are selling skills or services, in all probability you’re actually selling two things: your time and your expertise.
Knowing we are selling time helps us take control of what we are charging. It helps us realise that time is a finite commodity. Then, once we know how much time we need, we can figure out how that can be broken down into billable chunks.
Valuing your time
When we are in the business of selling time, the only way to know how much to charge is to monitor how long things take.
Rachel Andrew at Perch has written about the problems in accurately estimating time. “It comes down to discipline. Being disciplined in approach doesn’t seem to be very popular!
“There is no magic behind learning how long things take. You have to start to log the time you spend, including the time you spend not getting down to work, to be able to make those projections,” she explains.
“That process can be quite uncomfortable. If you log the way you spend your time for a few weeks you see in black and white how much time is spent messing about before actually doing any productive work.”
Accurately knowing how much to charge means having a clear understanding of how much time is spent on what you do, as well as how efficiently you use that time.
The Pomodoro Technique
Breaking your work down into bite-sized pieces can help make you more productive with your time.
“The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to get down to work,” says Andrew. “But also to log whether your time estimates at the beginning of the day were accurate.”
At the beginning of the day, break your task list into 25-minute sprints of work (known as ‘Pomodoros’), and write down how many sprints you think each task will take. At the end of the day you can see whether your estimate was accurate.
“Do this for a week or so and you’ll soon see a pattern of which tasks you tend to estimate incorrectly. Logging your time is the best way to get good at estimating time,” adds Andrew.
Measuring time is a critical tool to help both freelancers and agencies get better at gauging work and ultimately at being more profitable.