A Unique Strategy to Pricing Your Services as a Freelancer

This post is part of series by Cat from Budget Blonde, who’s documenting her journey to quit her job and become a self-employed freelancer.

Any full-time freelancer will tell you that one of the most challenging parts of the biz is learning how to correctly price your services.

It’s difficult because going too high will eliminate a large portion of the market, and going too low will result in working way more than you should, just so you can pay your bills.

Landing My First Freelance Job

When I first started freelance writing, I was thrilled to get my very first job at $10.00 a post. I remember signing that contract and telling my husband that I could finally call myself a writer since someone was now paying me for it!

It was very exciting at the time, and as I added to my skills and experience, I kept raising my rates.

Now, I’m all sparkly and pumped because I’m at the point where becoming a full time blogger is a possibility, because of the amount of clients, combined with the income from my blog.

Hitting a Pricing Wall

Despite the excitement of branching out on my own in the near future, lately I have been hitting a wall in terms of establishing a price point.

Many, many successful writers have urged me to raise my rates even higher than they are currently. Yet, every time I do, I am rarely successful.

For example, just last week I quoted a large website $75.00/post. They immediately said my price was too high, and when I told them I was happy to negotiate, they wrote back saying they went with someone else.

Now, maybe the other writer had better experience, a writing style they liked more — or as I suspect — a lower price. I don’t blame businesses for watching their bottom line, but I missed out on that job, most likely because I quoted too high.

I know there are more clients around the corner and that my experience and skills should merit a high pay.

However, in that instance, I lost a job. As the current breadwinner in my family, and someone who is taking a huge risk by trying to run my own small business, that really bothers me.

Many experienced bloggers and writers would say, “Good Riddance!” citing the fact that a company who wont pay your quoted rates aren’t worth it.

However, to me, every time I don’t get a job for whatever reason, it’s a step back from achieving my goal of becoming a full-time writer. At the same time, I know I can’t accept less than a certain price point, or I’ll be working way too many hours, suddenly waking up with my laptop physically attached to my fingers.

I know there’s a sweet spot, a point in the middle that will make sense some day.

For now, my main focus is trying to find as many steady clients as possible so I can gauge what my monthly income will be. That knowledge, in turn, will allow me to do this full time starting in January.

The Importance of Understanding the Market

One way I have combated the issue of price point, is to better understand the market. For example, a very large insurance company or credit card company might be able to pay $200.00 per post.

However, a small blog that’s looking for their first staff writer might only be able to pay $40.00 a post. What we need to decide as freelancers, is the type of client we want.

It seems like a no brainer — from a business perspective, it might make sense to only take on high-paying clients, but I personally love writing for smaller blogs, in the personal finance niche, and helping them create valuable content for their audience.

They might not be able to pay $200.00 a post, but in my experience, they also give a ton more freedom and are very fair in their prices.

When I decided to become a full-time blogger, I was looking for just that — freedom. I was looking to do what I loved. I wanted to write about what I wanted to write about. I wanted to be in charge of my day.

So, now I only take on projects I like, and I’d rather write a post of my choosing about the ridiculous time I paid three rents at once, instead of spending three hours researching and comparing credit cards for a post on a huge website.

That’s my choice. Yours might be different. That’s what makes the blogging world go round. ☺

Finding the Right Price Point for You

One tip that might be helpful to you as a writer/blogger who’s trying to raise your prices, is to create a tiered rate sheet of services — like the one provided below.

This type of layered rate sheet allows you to put the lowest price you’re willing to accept, all the way up to the highest price you really want.

Make the highest price full of awesomesauce, with tons of options and support. Perhaps a client will only be able to pay you the lowest level at first, but after a few months, you can remind them of your extras, and they might be able to afford now.

Tiered Rate Sheet

I would also urge you to be flexible. For example, I just started offering discounts for bloggers who can pay for 10 posts at once. This makes my price per post lower for them, and I get the security of knowing I’ll be working with them for almost 3 months.

Also, remember that sometimes payment comes in many different forms. The name recognition, links back to your blog, social media love from the people you work with, and recommendations to others are all extremely valuable perks to working in one niche.

Moving Forward

I’d love to hear opinions from fellow freelancers or bloggers about how you deal with this type of pricing challenge. My income is the one thing standing in the way of becoming a full-time blogger.

I feel like I am so close, like it’s just within reach — if only I could figure out this one conundrum of price point!

What method do you use to price your services?

A Simple Hack to Avoid Paying High Invoicing Fees
Monthly Progress Report: What Self-Employment is Really Like
About the author: Catherine Alford is a freelance writer who currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, twins, and spoiled pup, Julep. She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com.

10 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • Sarah Li Cain August 7, 2013, 6:16 pm

    I love the discount idea! Pricing is a tricky one for me too. In the past I’ll charge more if I know I need to do extensive research, like more technical posts. Most of my clients have quoted their budget and oddly enough, only one didn’t match the price I usually charge.

    • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde August 7, 2013, 7:17 pm

      Yes I try to charge more for research too. So glad you liked the discount idea!

  • Holly Johnson August 8, 2013, 2:43 pm

    Pricing can be tricky for freelancers. Since I do most of my freelance writing for websites that are not blogs, my pricing policy is slightly different. I’m usually offered a job with a set price. I can choose to take it, or not. The jobs I do take do typically pay a little higher than blog writing, though, because of the niche that they’re in. I take about 99.9 percent of the jobs that I’m offered now that I work from home. I’m happy to have them!

    • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde August 10, 2013, 9:57 am

      That’s interesting! We’ll have to chat about this sometime. :)

  • Budget & the Beach August 11, 2013, 9:42 am

    It’s hard for me to compare my video work with my writing work. I just dropped a client because it was too low of a price for the boundaries I had to work in, that is a certain long word count and highly technical. But I get that same rate for another blogger, however I don’t have any constraints, so I’m OK with that price. When it comes to video I rarely back down on my rate, because I’ve had years of experience doing it, and it rarely EVER benefits me, and in fact usually turns out to be quite the nightmare.

  • Mark Bryan August 11, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Yeah, set the price too low and people think it is low quality. Too high and people think it is not worth it. I offer my freelance services on seoclerks.com and I’ve found that giving out coupons but setting my prices slightly higher generate more sales and more income. People can’t resist getting something for free with the coupons.

  • Shirley August 28, 2013, 9:17 am

    I’m a designer, not a writer, but find quoting to be extremely difficult. I like being paid a set rate per hour. The worst is not knowing anything about the job (you haven’t been briefed a thing) and then being asked how long it will take and how much that will cost (for example “oh, please design me a logo” – and then you have no idea how many reverts/changes they will come back with) I like your idea about various tiers – I would have to incorporate that some how.

  • Alex Le Moëligou August 28, 2013, 4:37 pm

    I like the rate sheet. I’ve recently read a free ebook about how to charge to customers. It’s called Breaking the Time Barrier, it’s really interesting. The idea is to charge by the value you’re bringing to the customer. A great value for a client will always be, I believe, a combination of deliverables you will be offering them. Depending on who’s your customer, they will tend to like different set of combinations. That is why, like you said, we need to know the market/clients well. Offering a rate sheet like you said is an amazing thing, because it will allow you to determine which elements your customers really want, and eventually build packages that has the best value for a certain type of customers.

  • Geoff Walsh October 16, 2013, 6:57 pm

    I run into similar issues as a voice talent on freelance sites. A lot of clients will post projects that say “part 1 of 5.” Then bidders tend to bid on the whole project, which drives up the average bid. The key in what I do and I’m sure with other types of freelancers is to use a tier system like you suggest. It seems so simple, but it’s all about creating (in some cases, the appearance of) value! Thanks so much for putting it our plain and simple like that.

    Once you establish a working relationship with a client, then you can also work on raising your price a little. Recently, a very successful Executive Coach told me “If they’re not complaining about your rate, you’re not charging enough.” Wouldn’t it be great for all of us to get to that point?

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Mari-Anne Cooper May 22, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Yes, indeed, this one is tough. I’m a graphic designer and I’ve priced my work too low and found that clients only want to stay in that range, and I’ve priced it too high and lost potential clients.
    Now though, I really negotiate with my clients conversing thoroughly about their expectations and project scope to create competitive rates that work for both of us. That way, we both get our say and are able to come to an agreement. I’m very flexible in this regard because every project is different even if the product is the same. (ie. No two business cards are alike…) I still battle this dilemma, but I take it in stride. My ideal customer doesn’t mind communicating to haggle, and I like that because in my industry, communication is key. Thank you for your article. I loved it.

Leave a Comment