The Freelancer’s Pricing Model
An excerpt from the new book Art for Money
Hey Superorganizers! Dan here. A special treat for paid subs today! We're sharing an exclusive excerpt from a newly released book: Art for Money, the missing manual for every creative freelancer. It's by Michael Ardelean a former pro BMX biker, who spent years managing a design studio after his athletic career was over.
I know a lot of you are freelancers, and this excerpt speaks beautifully to one of the biggest challenges freelancers usually run into: how to price their work. If you like it, make sure you check out the full book here.
And if you like the idea of more book excerpts let me know in the comments!
Self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained.- Joan DidionValue Yourself
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.