You’re reading an excerpt from Art For Money, by Michael Ardelean. This small but powerful book helps every creative freelancer know their value and scale their business. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.
With all of that said, as a freelancer, putting a price on your work can be difficult. Every freelancer has an anecdote about a friend of a friend who bills premium rates, and gets paid every time. Why does she get her asking price, and you don’t? Be careful not to brush off that person’s success as luck or good marketing. In part, it may be those things, and that’s OK. But there’s probably a story there. What is she doing differently? What is the client seeing when they look at her?
Most likely the client sees results, delivered on time, by someone who articulates and carries herself well, backed by a good reputation.
And there’s probably even more to the story than that. In my experience, the cheapest clients are also the highest-maintenance clients. When they see how willing you are to bend over backward for their endless requests for out-of-scope favors, they will pile them on. Why wouldn’t they? It’s their job to get the most for the least. On the flip side, great clients with healthy budgets tend to understand quality and pay accordingly without too much fuss.
Successful freelancers not only know this, but back it up with action. This is risky. You have to know your value and believe in it enough to quote a respectable price, and be ready to walk away if the client can’t afford you. How you walk away is important. Be friendly and cool and express interest in staying in touch.
You have to know that those clients who can’t afford you will at least respect your professionalism and your price, and they’ll remember how pleasant and excited you were. They’ll come back to you in the future when they have money, or they’ll recommend you to someone who already does. This happens often.
Clients regularly encounter freelancers who are out of their price range. There are freelancers out there doing great work and getting paid great money for it. Like them, you want to stand out from everyone else by offering a unique overall package that no one else can replicate—not by simply being cheaper.
When you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.Jim Kwik
If you want to make proper money as a freelancer, it’s important to not avert your gaze and say “Uuuuhhhhhh” when someone asks you how much you charge.
Professionals know how to field this question: with a calm smile, they say, “Sure, tell me more about what you need and I’ll get you a quote by noon tomorrow.”