Lots of freelancers, even experienced ones, can sometimes stumble over what to charge in some circumstances. For example: working for a charity or a cause close to your heart, or a temporary downturn in new business can make you question if you should charge money for your services. But it is important to stick to your freelancing guns and remember the several important reasons why being paid is a good thing — for you AND your clients. Return business, respect, word of mouth referrals, and a chance to demonstrate appreciation are some of these reasons.
Your services, skill sets and knowledge all have a value
Paying for your services means people and other businesses know you have a value. When we value something we respect it, and treat it well. Undercharging — or working ‘for free’ — fosters an impression that what we do isn’t worthwhile or valuable, so don’t be shy about charging. Worried you need to hold that boundary hard? Put your fees, charges and costs on your website, and don’t forget to include GST status if applicable.
Putting your fees and costs on your website not only remind people of your worth and value, but has bonus benefits too:
- Time-wasters don’t reach out to you much because your value is visible
- Negotiations of services is expedited, saving you valuable time
- Potential clients can easily see where you fit in the scheme of costs for your field. #WinWin
Payment for services is a way to express thanks and appreciation for clients
It is often easy to forget that money represents something in exchange for something — in other words, the ability to pay is a chance to participate in a two-way agreement and honour our part of the bargain. For some clients the work we do is life-changing (or at least business-changing) and the gift of payment is incredibly important. Charging a fair price for our work allows clients to express thanks, appreciation, and can help foster new business by word of mouth.
At times when you may question if you should charge, put yourself in the client’s position. Ask yourself a few important questions (pretend you don’t have the relevant skills):
- If I needed this service, would I expect to pay for it?
- Would it be weird if a total stranger offered me work for free – and would I trust the quality?
- How do I feel paying a fair price for someone else’s work when I need it and ask for it?
Being paid a fair price for your work benefits you, your business, and your field
When we are paid according to our skills, experience, knowledge and training, we can afford to eat, sleep under a roof, keep up our training and tech — and maintain a comfortable lifestyle. These are all reasonable outcomes for work. Charging in line with other professionals in your field – even above when you are an expert or specialist — keeps the overall value of your field healthy for all, so colleagues benefit too. In addition, your own business can thrive and your mental health will too because you will not be second-guessing your pricing system. Perhaps you can even begin to choose the work you take on rather than saying ‘yes’ to everything because you are worried there won’t be enough future work. Remember, when we value something we do tell others about it, and a bank of recommendations is another outcome of a bank account that is healthy.