I doubled my freelance graphic design rate and clients actually paid it!
Yep, you heard right. I doubled my rate multiple times throughout my freelance career and clients actually paid it!
Here’s my story.
Whenever I thought about raising my rate, I would freak out. Once people were actually paying my current rate, why would I be crazy enough to raise it?! But, I kept having this gnawing feeling that I could charge more…and that I should be.
But who determines my value, anyhow? How do I know if I’m undervaluing my work? And how do I know if I’m overvaluing it, especially when some clients say I charge too much as it is already?
So I decided to give myself a raise.
Not just a raise, but I actually doubled my rate. With each new inquiry, I give clients my new higher rate, and to my surprise, most clients were fine with it. Sure, some thought it was too high, but others didn’t.
But now you might be asking yourself, “Ok, but what about your current clients? Surely no one would pay double when they were getting the same work for cheaper?!” Right?
I didn’t raise my rates too drastically on my loyal clients, but there was one client in particular who I had not worked with for about a year. When he called me to hire me for a few projects, I explained that since we last worked together, my rates had increased. After telling him my new rate (which was double what he previously paid), he agreed. He knew what kind of work to expect from me and saw the value in it.
Put a price on your work!
As each new client pays you what you decide you’re worth, you will gain more confidence knowing that you are actually worth that much, and maybe even more. But here’s the thing…if you don’t decide what your work is worth, others will decide for you. And you can be sure you will be undervalued if they do. If you are hesitant about your pricing or raising your rates, you’re asking for someone else to put a price on your work.
Here are 3 secrets to finally double your freelance rate:
1. Decide on a starting freelance rate
Just start. Put a dollar ($)ign on your work. Don’t worry right now if you feel your rate is too much or too little. The main idea is to simply start. You will refine your pricing as you go.
2. Develop a pricing system
Now that you have a starting freelance rate from step one, you now have a number in mind when someone asks you how much you charge. This buys you time to start figuring out your system to calculate your pricing. If you have a system for pricing your graphic design work, you develop confidence and you stick to the system instead of feeling pulled to change your rate based on how much you think a client is willing to pay.
There are many factors that can go into pricing yourself as a freelancer. You need to consider how much to make in order to survive, rates of your competitors, the going rate in the market, your level of expertise and experience, the value of the design, etc. And those factors don’t include what your client arbitrarily thinks it should be.
3. Get confident
Build up your confidence by validating your new price one client at a time. Developing confidence is the biggest secret to charging more as a freelancer.
For example, let’s say you start your rate at minimum wage (something I wouldn’t suggest, but hey, for the sake of the example, let’s go with it). You get your first client to agree to pay you your rate for a project. Congrats! Now you’ve proven to yourself that someone will pay you that much for your graphic design work. Your rate is now validated.
Now comes the next inquiry. Since you know for sure that you can get paid your starting wage, double your freelance rate with the next inquiry. You may want to do a handful of projects at this new rate. This will help build your confidence and show you that more than one client will pay you at this rate. (Note: Even at low rates, some clients think it’s still too high, so that’s why I suggest getting multiple clients who will pay at that rate. There will inevitably be a few who think you’re too high regardless).
Now that you’ve build up a clientele at this new rate, double your freelance rate again with the next inquiry. Rinse and repeat. Obviously, using this method, you’ll eventually hit a wall unless you shoot for bigger companies and clients and your level of design is through the roof.
Pricing is hard. It’s something that can change constantly. But you can get faster and more confident in pricing yourself with the method I developed. If you want to learn more, check out the Pre-lance Toolkit, where I spill the secret to pricing yourself as a freelance graphic designer.
Author: Melinda Livsey
Melinda is the co-founder of Pre-lance and her experience with notable names like Oakley, Paramount Pictures, and Loot Crate, coupled with her passion for creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, creates the perfect cocktail of impeccable workmanship, exceptional brands, and happy clientele.