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4 fee-setting strategies for freelancers

Stijn SchutyserStijn Schutyser

We have already written a blog post about how to determine your daily rate as an IT freelancer in 5 steps, but that didn’t include an explanation on how to set your fees for particular gigs. In this blog post, we’ll teach you 4 strategies to set the fees that feel right for you.

1. Track your time

Setting a correct fee begins with tracking the time you spent on certain tasks. That also means that you’ll need to track your time task by task. It doesn’t really matter how you track your time, be it pencil-to-paper or using a digital tool, but in this day and age most people – and clients – prefer a digital system. In some cases you might even be able to log your work using your client’s system. In other cases there are tons of (free) online tools you can use to track your time. Toggl is a great one, for example (and their comics are freaking hilarious). At ACA IT-Solutions, we use Tempo Timesheets for JIRA. But there’s tons of others to choose from! In order to pick the right one for you, ask yourself this:

Answer these questions for yourself and go through or try out some time tracking apps to see whether they really suit you.

2. Know your pricing

Knowing your pricing includes avoiding feast or famine pricing and knowing your rock bottom. You should find the zone that reflects your value, but leaves room to negotiate. This means you’ll need to do some market research, get a sense of job scope and, if possible, budget from the client before you crunch numbers. Your market research should involve learning the benchmark for rates in your particular industry. Check industry discussion boards and professional networking sites where people swap stories, strategies, magazines and books or ask a professional you trust. Also find out your lowest number — the price you won’t go below, no matter how great the gig is.

Knowing your pricing is not just important for your business, it also avoids a lot of frustration. Going too low or too high with your prices causes stress and costs time. Undercharging can lead to a feeling of being taken advantage of, while asking too much can lead to a loss of potential clients.

3. Communicate your value

If you’ve done your market research properly, you know how much you can charge for your services. But your clients may not. It’s okay to educate a client about what you’re worth. In fact, calculating and communicating your value to your clients is part of your job. It’s not their job to know exactly what you do and what you ask for it, as long as you offer a solution to their problem.

So what’s the best way to communicate your value to your clients? Here are a couple of tips:

4. Prices don’t have to be fixed

Earlier in this blog, we discussed finding the “zone” that reflects your value. That means your prices shouldn’t always be exactly the same. Don’t fear fluctuation. In some industries, it’s pretty much “one price fits all” for a given task. But if there’s a price spectrum, why not quote ’em as you see ’em?

Do you anticipate hours of meetings and revisions in your future? Perhaps there’s tons of overhead? Think of the cost to you of serving that client: you won’t have time for other projects and you’ll have to deal more with the less fun parts of your job. And if it’s your busy season or you’re cramming this gig onto an already full plate, that can be another reason to raise your prices.

On the other hand, will this gig boost your career, add visibility, or give you a new skill? Do you believe in the project and want to help it happen? Do you need the work? All valid reasons to allow a (reasonable) discount.

Takeaway for How to monitor your Kubernetes cluster with DatadogTakeaway

In this blog post, we’ve shortly discussed 4 strategies to help you set the right fee as a freelancer. The two most obvious ones are tracking your time and knowing the pricing zone that feels comfortable for you. Additionally, you should let others know what price you think you are worth and why. Communicating your value to your clients is essential. Don’t think of it as a way to justify your prices to them, but rather as a way to build trust. Finally, your prices shouldn’t be set in stone. Depending on the situation, it’s fair to raise or lower your prices by a bit.

We hope this blog helped you setting the right fees for you! If you’re looking for a new gig, check out all the current opportunities on the IT Match website!

Stijn is a copywriter and content marketer for ACA IT-Solutions and manages the blog website. He's interested in writing persuasive content, web content and graphic design and likes to challenge himself with new insights.

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