I know you didn’t come here to be told ‘it depends’. Of course it depends. But this isn’t a question that lends itself to an easy answer. In my comprehensive freelancing course, Rate is the longest module, almost double the length of the next longest. I could (and have) talk for an hour on the subject. But I’m going to give you my best possible 2 minute answer with the understanding that you know this is just the most broad stroke explanation I can muster.
Let us start with a very ballpark equation that can help new freelancers find a starting point:
(Annual Full Time Salary / 140 ) + equipment costs and expenses = Ballpark Daily Rate
It comes out to about double what a full time employee makes. Here’s why:
An employee’s benefits constitute a large portion of their compensation, so we add 30% for that. Freelancers have unbillable hours (bookkeeping, invoicing, etc) and are also responsible for their own operating costs. This constitutes another 20%. This puts us at 150% of a full time employee’s pay. Where do we get the other 50%? Freelancers find their own clients. They do their own marketing, they shake their own trees and hope plump delicious clients fall out of them. Considering this 50% is a pretty small amount to add. In fact, staffing agencies, advertising agencies, and the like tend to put a 100% mark up on a freelancer’s rates. Doubling 150% would put us at 300% or triple a full time employee’s wage.
Triple can be a tough sell when you’re first starting out, but I say: if you can charge triple, charge triple.
Again, this is just to get you in the right general region. There are a number of other things to consider when setting your rate:
- Regardless of your experience level, if you are employing any sort of job skill (design, writing, photo, video, etc), never charge less than $30/hour.
- Do not look at freelance platforms or job boards to decide on a rate. If they’re listing a rate, it’s probably because it’s garbage and they don’t want to have to sort through a bunch of freelancers who won’t take the job.
- Most new freelancers undercharge, very few overcharge.
- Cheap work does not lead to better paying work. I don’t begrudge anyone for taking a cheap job because they need to put food on the table but that’s not how you build a career.
- Don’t expect clients to offer a number. You supply the rate.
I realize it would have been easier if I just told you a number. But since I have no idea what your situation is, this is what you get. What I want you to take away from this is – whatever you decide your rate should be, know that you’re worth it- and if a few clients are cheapskates and won’t pay it, that doesn’t make you worth any less.