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Freelancing: A Guide To Setting Your Rates ( and not cheating yourself )

March 10, 2017

Setting your rates when freelancing is likely one of the most difficult things to do. I’ve struggled with it over the years and recently found and set my pricing at a comfortable rate which allows me to give the client the best experience and service for their project. Below I will share a guide on setting your rates to get what you deserve.


Billable Hours

It’s important to know how long certain tasks will take you as it will make it easier to calculate your base fee. 



Many times as freelancers we forget to factor in what it actually costs for us to live. This is important because it doesn’t do you any justice to work on a project for months and not be able to afford to pay your bills. Calculate your monthly living costs and break it down to day by day. This should include electricity, cell phone, cost of maintenance ( programs, etc ), cost of office space, etc. Depending on this situation you can break it down to the day.


Market Value

Be sure to research the market that you live in. Most commonly I just google, “ average salary for _____ in _______” You also just go to and they will quickly give you the information you need. Personally, it’s good to check at least 3 sites. In addition, ask other people in your industry their rates as well. This will help to really get a good grasp on what’s going on around you.


This should get you started on calculating your hourly rate. From here you should then determine if you want base your rates on an hourly scale or based on per project.


I use both methods and below is how:


For my clients that are monthly we are under contract for an hourly rate. By using an hourly rate, it’s easy to adjust as needed and renegotiate as necessary.


For my clients looking to get just a logo, website etc as a la carte / 1 time services, I charge for these per project. It’s a bit easier to manage by offering them in packages versus trying to calculate an hourly rate. If during the project we add additional items, most commonly, I will communicate with the client and let them know that we can do so, however anything additional  will be calculated at an hourly rate. Once I determine the total cost, I let the client know so that they can make the decision on if they would like to move forward with the add-on.


Education & Communication

I always ask my clients their budget for the project as well so that we are on the same page. Often times, when it comes to design, people don’t understand the value and it is your responsibility as the freelancer to educate them.

Educating and communicating with your client is key to securing and locking in the rate you are asking. You must do so, because it assists in them understanding your value. This is how you get what you are worth, is by gaining the client’s trust. In doing so, communication is key. Explain to your clients and show them how using your service will enhance their business and explain what it is that you do that will help them long term.



It’s good that you lock in contracts for each project which locks in the rate that you both agree on. I have a standard contract that I use and another good service to use for contracts is Shake. It is an app that you can download for free which allows you to sign and complete contracts digitally ( via your cell phone or email ) so that no one feels intimidated with the process. This protects you both. In the contract you should have your additional hourly rate listed just in case you all go over the agreed upon boundaries. It is up to you to enforce it and communicate this with the client. Having the contract there reinforces what was originally agreed upon.


I think those are pretty much the basics of setting your rates as a freelancer and getting what you deserve out of it. Feel free to ask any questions, let me know if you need help and i’d be more than happy to do so 🙂
Thanks for reading!

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