How much do you charge for your work? If you’re a freelancer or just starting to build your business or launch a side hustle, the very thought of deciding on “your number” can paralyze you.
If you overcharge and you’re a newbie in your field, you can risk seeming arrogant and not delivering a solid return on investment. But if you’re a seasoned professional and undercharge, potential clients may not take you seriously.
The major issue I grappled with when I first started out really was, how much do I charge?
Sadly, at the time, I didn’t feel like I had much say in the matter. I worked as a freelance reporter for a major daily newspaper in Northern Ontario as my first “official” freelance job after graduation.
I was super excited. I covered a few local events over the course of a few weeks, submitted my first invoice aaannd… shouldn’t have been shocked by how small my paycheque was when it eventually came in the mail, but I was.
It was such a small amount (something like $150). For the time and effort I put into the articles, it actually cost me money since I also worked two part-time retail jobs as well and booked off those shifts so I could work for the newspaper.
To put the time and skill investment into perspective, I had to map out my route to the events (I was new to town and took the bus everywhere), attend the sometimes hours-long events and decide on the most compelling information to write about, find sources and interview them afterwards, then bus back home, and write and edit the article for an often extremely tight deadline.
It was a tough reality check. I’m all for paying my dues to break into an industry and build a career, but my time and skills were worth more. The sad part is that I didn’t even think of asking for a pay increase. Freelance reporters got paid a flat fee per article they submitted and received a bit more for writing feature-length pieces and taking photos.
After it was hammered into my head that print journalism is dying and newspapers are running out of money, I figured that I should be grateful to even get my foot in the door at all.
I semi-made the same mistake again at another newspaper I worked for over the course of two years. I brought up a pay increase just once and got shot down, so I didn’t ask again. It was regular work that I enjoyed, so I stayed while also working multiple side hustles and bridge jobs.
It has always been a point of pride for me to work my hardest and create my best work, not only with clients like big companies and the Canadian government, but also with start-up businesses, authors, and entrepreneurs with side hustles.
But now, things are different.
Over the past few years, my work experience has increased exponentially and I now create content for clients in many different fields. Yet, undercharging – or not knowing what to charge – is not a rare occurrence. My experiences are similar to stories I’ve heard from other freelancers.
So if you have trouble valuing your work, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
I belong to some amazing freelancer and Side Hustler communities. Recently, I shared with them this awesome tool called the Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator by Motiv, and ohmygawd, it’s super helpful.
It walks you through what you need to make a living wage, based on the life you want to live. Since freelancers rarely get health insurance, vacation time, and other benefits that a traditional employer would offer, it’s crucial to not undervalue yourself, so you can enjoy living like a human being.
Tell #TheSisterpack what you think of the rate calculator and share with us your experiences as a side hustler or entrepreneur in the comments below or on social media! We hear you.
High fives and good vibes,