I’ve written an article about the most common mistakes new freelancers make but today I want to address one of those mistakes that were most influential during my venture as a freelancer. Not charging enough.
Let’s be honest. Everyone undercharged itself when starting out as a freelancer. And you’ve had to work with some less-than-good clients at the time right?
I did this in the beginning. My strategy was to underprice myself at the beginning until I get a couple of clients.
Fast-forward a couple of clients and I’ve noticed a huge jump in terms of client quality. This was awesome but I wanted to find out what caused this. It took me some time but the number one reason I started gaining more quality clients was I raised my rate.
If you are starting out this doesn’t make sense, right? Why being more expensive is attracting better customers? At the time, it didn’t make sense for me either.
Here are a couple of reasons why raising your rates as a freelancer is a good idea.
Clients Trust You More
Imagine someone offering you a Ferrari for $100. Would you take?
You would but not without thinking what’s wrong with it first right?
The same goes for freelancing. If you’re a professional that spent years honing its skills and had tons of previous satisfied clients, chances are you’d not be very cheap. It’s generally what serious clients expect when they want to hire a freelancer. Quality clients want good work, not cheap work.
Undercharging leaves a bad taste in the mouths of both parties involved. The client will feel that he’s getting less value because he’s paying you less. You will feel used because you’re delivering more value than you’re getting compensated for.
It’s critical to talk to a client and find out why they need your services and how they impact their business. Only then you hit them with an offer that feels good for both parties.
Note that charging more in order to attract better clients is a double-edged sword. Of course, you get more money for your work. But on the other side, you better do the best work you can to justify your high prices or you can say ‘bye-bye’ to your reputation. I’m not saying don’t go for it. I’m saying that with more money you get paid, you get more responsibility.
Low Prices Attract Bad Clients
Undercharging can also hurt you by attracting the wrong kind of clients. The clients that want work to be done without even glancing over the actual quality of work. The clients that always consider you ‘too expensive’. The clients that think you’re easily replaceable because you’re charging so low.
I’m talking from experience here. Freelancing platforms like Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr are full of people like this. It’s not uncommon to see freelancers on these platforms charging less because other freelancers are charging less which in return spirals into a race to the bottom.
For example, my first client was a fake guru that I don’t want to name. I didn’t realize this until well-off into a project. I was building a website for scamming people into clicking on ads. You know, one of those “free v-bucks” type of sites.
Now, tell me how can building a website for scamming kids into clicking on ads can help me land better clients? Yep, it can’t. Matter of fact, I think it even hurts my chances of landing a gig. This can only attract the type of people like him.
In conclusion, bad clients attract more bad clients.
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I’ve met a couple of people that used to be freelancers but they quit and returned to their office jobs. When I ask them why they quit freelancing, I get one of these answers. The first answer is that they couldn’t handle stress and wanted something more stable. Totally understandable. Thick skin is the name of the game. You shouldn’t do freelance if you handle stress poorly.
The second answer is a bit less common but it’s there nonetheless. Freelancing is too crowded.
In my opinion, this is not true.
Sure there are tons of $5-$10 an hour freelancers and you will have a pretty hard time. But remember how I said two minutes ago that clients don’t want cheap freelancers?
Well, good news. There are a lot less $50 an hour freelancers rather than $5 an hour freelancers.
Charging more means less competition.
In the end, I want to tell you why I’ve written this post.
I’ve seen a lot of newcomers charging low rates thinking it will help them land more clients. This is just not true!
Charging low in the beginning may be a good strategy in the short-term to build out a portfolio. But you must raise your rates as soon as possible.
New freelancers also think that clients don’t want to pay up for their work. This is generally not true. I’ve seen people getting paid $100/hour and up because they know how to sell the value they bring to their clients. People are ready to pay up if they think your work can either bring in more profit or cut down costs.
So don’t be afraid to up your rates. What’s the worst thing that can happen?