What’s the wrong price for a freelancer?

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Home >> Blog >> Small business marketing >> What’s the wrong price for a freelancer? [PART I]

5 wrong approaches to find the right price for a freelancer

What is the right price that I should pay for a freelancer, as a client? What is the fee I should charge my clients, as a freelancer?
Even before asking that question, though, what is the wrong way to tackle pricing with freelancers?

01 – time is money…

After a Phd in Political Science and International Relations, I have been freelancing in content production (videos, graphics, web-design) for 7 years now.

And I can say I have spent a quite reasonable amount of time trying to figure out what the right or the right price for a freelancer was.

…money is time

Because of my education, I wanted to believe in Karl Marx: the price of an object depends on the amount of time, which a worker spends on it.

However, what if worker A is twice faster than worker B? He would get half of the money for delivering the same product in half of the time!

Nice try, Karl.

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02 – supply and demand

At my first class of political economy, I have learned that supply and demand regulates the definition of a price:.
The more people supply the same service, the cheaper it will be for those in demand.

Unfortunately, this rule only takes a few simplistic factors into account (such as perfect information). And holds all else equal (such as entry barriers, taxation, technological change).

…maybe in Wonderland.

How this applies to normal life?
No economist knows.

And what about the time that it takes looking for (and selecting) all the people, who can offer the same service in the same area?

Isn’t that time a cost for a company?
Shouldn’t the right price for a freelancer avoid, first of all, being wrong?

Thank you for nothing, Mr. Marshall.

03 – PORTFOLIO

I used to think that the quality of my work was the only relevant metrics at my potential clients’ eyes.

However, most of them hire a freelancer only when they totally lack the technical understanding of the task and cannot internalise it.

This lack of understanding creates a real dilemma in (honest) freelancers.

…if you know what it is.

For instance, in web-development there are a lot of good practices (in terms of mobile responsiveness, SEO, or security, to name a few) that represent a constraint in terms of design.

In addition, clients without technical understanding will ask for something that “looks good, cheap and fast.
They will ask so, even if that will result less effective (and expensive) in the long run.

So long, quality standards!

04 – Market rates

A more quantitative (and, apparently, reliable) method to identify the right price for a freelancer is the study of market rates.
That implies that freelancers with the same role and amount of experience will cost the same.

However, the mere measure of “years of experience” tell us nothing or very little about the actual skills of a professional: that goes without saying.
And it’s particularly true in fast-changing markets, such as the digital one.

…or quite the opposite?

Does this person respect the client’s mission or runs away with the money asap?
Is this person accountable for mistakes or delay?
Or does this person hide behind technical jargon and refrain from pursuing an exclusively personla interest?

More importantly, after years of experience, are these professionals still “hungry” and committed to deliver quality work and to expand their business?

As a result, market rates can shed light on a category of people, but not necessarily on the single individual, who will perform for us.

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05 – given budget

Sometimes, the best way to assess a freelancer’s value is by comparison.
Hence,you set a given budget for your project and ask three freelancers at least to provide you with a clear list of deliverables, a timeline, a work methodology.
This us how you can get a better picture.

If the freelancer offers too little, you may feel that this person is simply looking for a high margin.

In conclusion

If the freelancer offers too much, you may understand that this person does not really know in what trouble he/she is getting.

However, the problem of the price here simply translates to the problem of the budget: not exactly a solution.

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