Here’s the thing. Most of the “how much to charge for freelancing” articles tell you the same thing – nothing. Once I got started, I read tons of them and always left empty-handed. So this time I’m here to share a bit of research I’ve done while being a freelancer myself. I’ve written down some freelancing rates, including what you should charge as a freelancer.
Being a freelancer is hard as it is. You have to learn new skills, search for new clients, improve your writing, communication, portfolio, spend time trying to get the projects that, as it turns out, are not worth getting and after all, you have to plan your own time and schedule and FIND time for everything. It’s a mess out there. So can, at least, someone tell you how much to charge for freelancing so you don’t have to wreck your mind around it?
Here’s my answer: either it’s fixed price or hourly rate, base your projects on anything between $20/h and $60/h or more if you’ve been in the business for many years.
Before you get on my neck about how untrue this is, I need to say a DISCLAIMER: not all professions and all freelancers would agree. This is NOT for everyone. But it IS the average in the market I’ve seen and worked with. And it IS adjustable to many situations out there. If, at any point, you feel like you should be charging more, go ahead and do that! Read on to dig in some numbers!
What’s a normal freelancing rate?
Less than $20 are usually charged when you’ve just started working online. This doesn’t apply to everyone though. If you have your online portfolio and any other kind of proven experience, your rates can be higher than that. But it’s a starting point for many! This rate also applies to the tasks that don’t ask for any specific knowledge.
While many may see this as a ridiculous price, it’s a pretty decent option to ask for if you can live with it and afford all that’s necessary (business + lifestyle expenses).
If the task is repetitive, easy and requests no specific skillset whatsoever, less than $20/hr very often IS a decent rate.
$20 – $30/h
This is the average price in the freelancer market for all kinds of relatively simple services: things everyone can learn but not everyone decides to do. Most popular professionals working within the range:
- Social media managers
- Entry level graphic designers
You can work within this price range if you are located in an inexpensive place and your clients are coming from the same region. For example, charging $20 – $25/h in Latvia is A LOT while in the USA it might be as low as someone can go… But $100 per day is a pretty good amount of money (if your rent isn’t $2000/month).
As you see, it depends on many factors. Mostly any freelance rate should be based on your skillset plus your expenses.
$30 – $45/h
This is something I see as the normal average rate. Once again, it depends on the location, needs and experience. While for some freelancers this means daily work from 9 to 5, for me and many others this is half of the working day to satisfy all of our needs.
Here are some professionals who use this rate:
- Graphic designers
- Digital marketers
- Entry level developers
$45 – $60/h
This is what you charge if you have a wide range of skillset in your field and you’re truly confident in what you’re doing. Besides that, you have proven experience and, quite possibly, you’re working with somewhat high-end clients. This price might apply for:
- Specific field designers
- Pro digital marketers
- Pro illustrators/artists
If you deserve to get more, you’re not reading this article. Because:
- You’ve already been freelancing for years and this question doesn’t concern you anymore
- You know your REAL value and you’d never ask less
Once again, let me remind you that there are many different people, many different freelance professions, and living environments. For some $60/h+ is the only rate they can imagine to survive on. You can always make your rates higher when you don’t feel satisfied with your income but make sure that your knowledge, experience, and even your current communication skills are enough to pull it off! Also, if you’re providing a unique service that might not take any time at all but provides value that can’t be found elsewhere – don’t hesitate to go up to $100/h & more!
Real life freelance service pricing samples:
All of these are taken from “the research I did” (stalking people online):
- Basic level designer, creating quotes in Canvas, $15/h.
- Social media manager, managing 3 social media platforms for one client $250/week.
- A developer, working on a \simple website development, $45/h.
- A professional level developer, working on complicated web development, $160/h.
- A professional narrator, recording 100 mins long audio, $100 – $180/project.
Here’s an example from a copywriter:
“I started freelancing at 18 (I’m 23 now) to make some additional income while I was in college. For short-form pieces, like a listicle or slideshow (generally 250-450 words) I charge 18-21 cents a word, depending on how much information is provided and how much I have to source myself. If the content is written but needs to be edited and optimized for performance I charge 10 cents a word.
For long-term gigs, I am willing to take a pay cut because the stability is a bonus. For instance, I’m on a long-term project right now that requires me to write a short form post every day and pays $1,000 a month. So at roughly $32 a post, it’s a definitely under what I normally charge. But the subject matter is easy and I can usually get it done pretty quickly.
I also charge a $100 ghost fee. Having my name on the product is the easiest way to get more clients and build my portfolio, so if I’m not going to be credited I think it’s fair to be additionally compensated.”
The best way to choose what to charge
Here’s what I did when I started freelancing: I started with the lowest rate since I had no experience or portfolio whatsoever. And I increased it step by step.
At first, I had no problem working for a few dollars per hour. I had to get the experience and even a few dollars were a lot. Basically, someone was paying me to learn. My rates grew fast in the first months.
I also have to mention: at that point, I had no access to the freelancer community whatsoever so I had no knowledge about “normal” rates at all. Besides that, I was 18 and living with my parents. I didn’t care about the money.
I started with $5/h for the first gig which went to $10/h for the next steadily up until $20/h which I stuck with for a while. Although this rate is considered as “incredibly small” for many, for me it was a great base once I moved out of my parents home, I had several projects going on but I was still improving my skills and building my portfolio. Later the rate grew more.
Now I charge anything between $35/h to $45/h for all kinds of different projects (both design and marketing) and feel absolutely comfortable with this rate.
Questions to consider when choosing your rate:
- How many hours per week you’d like to be working? (An average 4-5 working day with 2-3 days fully or partially off is the way I roll. It might be different for you!)
- What’s the average rent + utility price you have to pay per month? (I pay $500 for my apartment monthly. The hourly rate could be different for someone paying $1500…)
- What’s the average price for the lifestyle you’d enjoy? (Occasional restaurant and cinema? Traveling monthly? Buying the most expensive wine each week?)
- What are your long-term goals? ($100 000 in savings? Daily traveling? A new car?)
Evaluate your answers and don’t be afraid to get paid for the job you’re doing! It’s always better to work less & earn more instead of working more for less.
If you want to learn some more freelance rate ideas, you can check out this article comparing 3 popular pricing modules.