If you’re new to freelancing, it can be a little overwhelming and confusing. There’s so much to think about and so much to set up. You need to ensure you’re doing the right things and not wasting your time and money on the wrong things. You also need to ensure you’re starting as you mean to go on, especially when it comes to business and pricing.
Recently I was chatting with Emma Cossey over on my podcast. She’s the go-to resource for everything when you’re new to freelancing. Emma’s passionate about taking away the fear around being a freelancer and ensuring you have everything you need to build a business that suits you and your personality.
Two essentials often get overlooked by new freelancers - terms and conditions and business boundaries. Terms and conditions don’t need to be full of legal language. They can be a list of boundaries and expectations between you and a client, simply stating your notice period, payment turnaround, the hours you work, how you handle revisions etc. It can be a simple list in an email or a one-page document. It doesn’t have to be scary!
And then there are your business boundaries. These simply clarify what matters to you and make them clear to your clients. Are you working school hours only or only three days a week? Start as you mean to go on and set those boundaries up from the beginning. It’s essential to have it all set out so you and your clients know where you stand.
Your boundaries, along with your terms and conditions, are there to help and support you. You can refer back to them if you’re setting late fees or to prevent clients from deviating from what’s agreed.
New freelancers tend to charge less and forget about all the experience they have in previous roles. Newbies rarely charge too much! And yet often, the biggest fear is that you’re not getting work because you’re pricing too high when in reality, it’s down to your marketing being a problem.
Another problem is throwing in all the extras—discounts, freebies etc. Pricing can feel very personal. You need to have a simple approach to pricing and experiment with it. You might start with a lower price in your first six months, and ideally, you want to be competitive rather than undercutting. The cheaper you are, the more people will think that reflects your value. They’ll assume your work won’t be great.
Think less about how much cheaper you can be and more about how much value you can bring to the client and what the return on investment is for that client. It’s all about the transformation you bring to them.
Mistake number one - Making assumptions about how much people can afford to pay for something. Don’t assume someone can’t afford you and price yourself too low. Remember that people who pay, pay attention.
Mistake number two - The clients who pay you a cheap amount always want more. They’re typically difficult clients and the most demanding of extras etc. Remember, the ones who haggle with you tend not to value you. It turns into a toxic relationship, and it then becomes tough to put up your prices and build ongoing relationships with them.
You want to be working with clients who value you and what you do - and you need to be loving what you do. Clients who can afford to pay for you and see it as a priority are prepared to pay for it to get the service they need.
If you’re looking for pricing help, there’s no shortage of suggestions. For starters, I have my very own pricing calculator that helps you to work out the minimum prices you should be charging [You can opt-in for your free copy here]. There are also sites like YunoJuno, where people submit how much they’re charging for things, and you can then see the averages people charge. And of course, there are other people’s websites. You can research their pricing and record an average of them.
It also pays to have three packages for your services. The middle one is the one you want people to buy, and they tend to go for - it’s psychological. And always advertise your prices, because if people don’t see them, they immediately assume it’s way outside their budget. So many freelancers price themselves out of the race by not having their prices on their website.
So you know what success looks like for you. Know what you’re comfortable with and what a comfortable life looks like for you. You can then plan it out to get the flexibility you want because that’s ultimately why you’re a freelancer!
And be realistic about what you can and can’t do to achieve those numbers. You cannot charge clients 40 hours a week, for example, as you need time spare to market your business. Be honest with yourself over how much time you can work and what’s sustainable for you. You don’t need to be working 9 to 5, five days a week. Work a schedule that suits you - even if it’s 2 hours each morning and evening.
I don’t think you need all the things and lots of clients. You just need solid prices, a solid business model and fixed pricing. And always add in a buffer, as so many freelancers underestimate how long a task will take! It’s much better to underpromise and overdeliver.
And finally, know what matters to you. There’s so much pressure to hit a five-figure month and constantly grow. It’s unnecessary pressure, especially if it’s not what you want. If your goal is to hit a lower figure and have flexibility, that’s OK. It’s about your version of success.
Listen more to my podcast with Emma Cossey on working and pricing as a new freelancer.
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The Pricing Queen podcast is produced by Decibelle Creative