Maybe you want to quit a job you hate, or finally start earning more to sit on the beach in Hawaii drinking a Mai-Tai.
Whatever your goal is for doubling your freelance rate, this article will show you how.
Step 1: Stop Charging by the Hour
This confuses most freelancers, especially those just starting out.
What do I charge!? Should I charge by the hour, by the week, per project? Help!
Well this is actually a bit easier than you think, and goes against what most freelancers do.
My first tip would be to stop charging by the hour right away. There are only 24 hours in a day, and if you sleep 8 of those, that leaves you 16 to work if you we’re crazy enough to try it.
In the work world, most people work 8 hours a day which is not optimal. So, even if you stick to that and charge $100 an hour the most you can make in a day is $800. You would also burn yourself out pretty quickly and would feel like you’re working a job again.
Why limit your income when you can do much better? Let’s start thinking like business owners would instead and applying it to our freelancing…
Here’s how to raise your prices without your clients even knowing it (in an ethical way).
Charge whatever you want, based on the VALUE you are delivering.
What is the value you are delivering to your client?
If you are charging too low, raise your prices today. There is no rule or law about how much you can charge (unless your country has one that I am not aware of).
The key here is to back your price with value and a solution to the customers problem.
Think about it.
There are designers that charge $5 on Fiverr for a logo and yet Pepsi paid $1 Million for it’s logo. How is that possible?
Obviously the pepsi logo is designed by a team of experts, and not a newbie designer on Fiverr, but that’s why they can command $1m price point for a logo anyways. They are experts delivering value to a company that will make much more from the new logo.
The truth is you will get paid what you are worth to the client AND paid based on the value that you deliver. If you are not getting paid well it’s because you are either not seen as an expert or you are not charging what you’re truly worth.
When I started offering web design as a freelance service, I charged $20 per hour which sounded great at the time. I honestly picked a number out of the sky that was higher than all my job hourly wages.
However, I would earn around $500 for a full website that would take me about 25 hours to complete. I soon realized I would have to build 2 websites a week to make $1000 a week or $4000 a month. This is not a bad income, but knew I could do better.
When I discovered value based pricing, I raised my prices to $5,000 minimum per website and started looking for clients that would get more value than $5000 by hiring me.
This changed everything for me.
I was now able to earn 10x more with the same amount of hours! I only had to create 1 website per month to make the same as before. Instead of earning $20 per hour I was now earning $200 per hour for the same amount of work and my clients still went on to earn 10 times the amount they paid me to build the site.
My recommendation is to create your own value and price based on how much value you deliver to your clients and specialize, which we will discuss next.
Step 2: Specialize
If you want to double your rate as a freelancer, the first step is to specialize.
Specializing helps you stand out from the crowd of other freelancers.
If someone needs brain surgery, would they feel confident getting brain surgery from a general doctor or a brain specialist. It’s an obvious answer right?
Yet, most freelancers including myself, have made the mistake of offering everything and anything in hopes that someone will hire us. We fear specializing will mean less work.
Instead, if you specialize you will be able to double your freelance rates and double your clients. People will think of you first as the specialist, will seek you out, and will be willing to pay more for that specialty.
When I first started as a freelancer designer, I offered everything from logo design to web design. If people wanted it, I offered it. I was all over the place and my stress and income showed it.
When I decided to specialize I went from barely surviving to earning well over six-figures a year, with much less stress.
Here’s a few questions to help you figure out your specialty:
- What can you do better then anyone else?
- What problem can you solve best?
- What do people come to you for?
- What do you do often and with ease?
- What do you like doing most?
If you can’t think of anything, look back at previous clients you’ve had and figure out what are your best success stories. Was there someone you helped that got great results because of your work? Is there a few people you have helped? You may start seeing a pattern here.
Ex. If you’re a freelance photographer, do people reach out to you for a lot of weddings? As a web developer, maybe you’ve done a ton of WordPress sites for friends, family or clients.
You may be currently offering logos, websites, WordPress, photography and all types of other services, but I can assure you this will keep you stuck at low rates.
Instead, figure out what you do best and stick to that. Be the BEST at it, and charge more for it.
If you don’t have any success stories, or haven’t had enough work yet to know your specialty, then you can decide on a specialty now. Simple :). Nothing is permanent, you can always change it later.
Of course you can do some work until you find something you are really good at and enjoy. Here is a list of job boards and resources to get you started.
Step 3: Find a Paying Niche to Serve
What niche you serve is just as important in doubling your freelance rate.
Similar to specializing in a particular service, I spent years struggling to earn money as a freelancer because I was trying to serve everyone and anyone that would pay me.
This lead me down a horrible path of searching for clients everyday, and earning little to no income.
Instead, I learned to find a specific niche or type of customer to serve and it made all the difference.
If you had a toothache would you go to a dentist or a brain surgeon?
Silly question right? It’s obvious you would go to the dentist.
Yet most freelancer try to be the dentist AND the brain surgeon to their clients!
If you find a specific niche to offer your service to you will also double your rates.
Here are a few examples:
- Web design for lawyers
- Logo design for startups
- Beachfront wedding photographer
- Fine art photographer
- Mural artist for restaurants
- iPhone game development
- Fitness blog post writer
- Information technology security consulting
Honestly the combinations are endless, these are just some ideas.
Here are a few sites you can search to discover paying freelance niches:
- Craigslist – Search under jobs in your area, look for what local businesses are posting jobs for. You may be surprised at what you find to give you some ideas.
- Upwork – Search by categories and dig into those categories. In the example below there are a ton of posts for WordPress web designers.
- Amazon – Check out the massive Amazon directory. These are dozens of niche businesses you can offer your services to. Look through the niches and see what stands out to you.
- Google – Take any niche idea you may have and do a quick Google search to see if people are already selling services in those niches or running ads. If I do a quick Google search for “Web design lawyer” I can find 4 ads right at the top of web design companies paying to get new customers. This tells me that lawyer web design is a paying niche and only one of those ads is specifically a law firm web design specialist. The others are just generic design companies advertising to lawyers. Who do you think has a better chance?
Step 4: Deliver Amazing Service
This sounds simple enough but so many freelancers get it wrong.
When someone hires you for a freelance job are you honestly delivering the most amazing service they’ve ever experienced? Or do you cut corners to save time and just get the job done?
Be honest with yourself about this.
The first option will make you boat loads of money, and the second will always leave you struggling.
How to deliver amazing service in a few steps:
- Be honest and have integrity. Don’t screw people. Treat every customer like it was your best friend or family member. Treat them like you were doing the project for yourself.
- Don’t cut corners. Make sure to get the job done right and with the best service you can deliver. If you can’t make something work for some reason, let the client know and work it out with them. They will trust you more anyways and work with you again.
- Follow up often. Keep in touch with your clients after the project is completed. Don’t just deliver the final deliverable and move on. It costs more to acquire a new client / customer than to keep your current ones. Ask them how they like your work. Ask them if they had any success with it and if there is another way you can serve them.
- Get feedback. Make sure to actually ask for feedback from your clients/customers. Find out if they are satisfied with your work, or if they recommend any changes in the way you deliver your service.
- Go above and beyond the call of duty. You we’re hired to deliver something, but what else can you add? If you can add more value to your service such as recommending solutions to other problems the customer may have OR simply throwing in a free added service, your clients will love you. Most freelancers will not want to do anything extra, even small, for free and that’s why they have trouble doubling their rates.
If you follow the steps above you should have very little trouble to double your freelance rates, and likely never have a lack of clients. Referrals will come easily and your clients will continue to come back for recurring work.
I hope this serves you as it has served me.
Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!