Setting the right price for your services is crucial, because even if the difference may be small, you’re trying to maximize every second of your work. And underbidding your services over time can add up to a significant amount. If you overbid though, the client may get cold feet.
It’s thus crucial to find out how high you can get away with. This depends on a few factors:
Your reputation. Does it, as they say in the movies, precede you? It goes without saying that only contract workers known for their talent and professionalism can charge more. You have to pay for quality.
The quality of your previous work. Another reason for maintaining a portfolio: you can easily show prospective clients what you’re capable of. Again, good work = higher price.
Presentation. Marketing works. If you make a good initial impression, the potential client will be more willing to loosen his pockets. Just make sure you can back up the talk!
Trial and Error. We all make mistakes. So if you’ve lost a potentially lucrative contract because you were too greedy, or charged too little because you were too eager, learn from it. Preferably after the first try.
Market Forces. Do you have many competitors? Does the supply outweigh the demand, or the other way around? Adjust your price accordingly.
Ultimately, setting a price that’s most favorable for you depends on awareness. Awareness of the situation. Gauge constantly the impression you make on clients, how much you think they’re willing to pay, how much competitors are willing to work for, and how much your own skills are worth.
Making Your Skills About More Than Just Money: Freelance Advocacy
Last December, I wrote about packaging your skills as a gift. Recently, I’ve realized that freelancers are also in a great position to work for advocacy, rather than “just” charity.
Take the recent Kathy Sierra controversy. Ron Elizondo decided to do something about it, and he’s distributing a logo to raise awareness over the whole issue. He took the time to create the logo, “market” it on his blog and spread the word through email.
That’s a perfect example of devoting your precious time and skills to highlight an issue that’s important to you. More examples:
A freelance photographer can take compelling pictures to highlight his country’s poverty problem
A designer can create a flyer that focuses on his city’s garbage problem.
A consultant could subtly highlight the benefits of being environmentally friendly to clients, showing how it’s actually better for business, instead of relying on righteous arguments.
A writer can of course write, arguing why the need to address a certain privacy violation is urgent.
A programmer can create a web-based application that quizzes people on how much they know about corruption in his state.
The possibilities are endless. I’d provide more examples if I was more familiar with how it is in other fields. How else can freelancers use their talent and time to support something they believe in?