Last week we discussed the questions to ask when deciding our profile rates. And while in most cases we use that very same profile rate as basis when applying to hourly paid projects, we still need a freelance pricing guide when applying for hourly paid work, right?
Here are some questions from my freelance pricing guide when working by the hour
Q1: How many people have already applied to the job post and what’s the average price?
The answer to this question will give me some insights about the applicants. The active interviews (or lack of such) will reveal a bit about the client as well. You will be able to make an educated guess about the price this client is willing to pay for this job.
For instance, if the average price of all applicants is $10 per hour for a marketing plan and the client is interviewing a few people within this range – please, move on. This is not the type of client you want to work with. If however, the client is not interviewing anyone or is interviewing 1 or 2 people with average rate of $30-40 or more per hour – well, this might be as well your lucky day – you have found a serious potential high-paying client.
Later on, I will dedicate a post on how to decide what the client is like by looking at the job post he or she has posted. Now, moving on with the freelance pricing guide for hourly paid work 😉
Q2: How long is the estimated duration of the project?
If it is a “rush job”, obviously the client will be willing to pay more because 1) it is a quick job and one-time cost; and 2) because the deadline is more important than budget.
If the hourly work is long-term, then most probably the client would want a trial task, followed by approval (or not) for the long-term position. If the client is looking to hire a freelancer on somewhat permanent position, this means that traits like self-discipline, keeping deadlines, reports, etc. are a leading factor in the decision making process.
Usually the long-term projects with regular workload have lower than rush job prices. The reasons for this lie behind the factor “time” – 1) a steady workflow and workload is promised – which means steady and regular cash flow for the freelancer; and 2) the freelancer’s fees are a somewhat permanent item in the client’s budget – so he or she would try to lower it as much as possible, within reasonable lines.
Here’s an example to make it clearer:
A professional freelance writer with experience and skills could negotiate a price for writing a single article at let’s say $50 per hour. The same freelancer most probably would negotiate a price of $25-35 per hour if the project is for writing 5 blog posts per week the next 6 months only because there will be large and steady workload and cash flow and long-term commitment is made by the client.
Q3: How quickly can you do the job?
If the hourly paid work is writing an article but you are not a good researcher, you will need more time to complete the writing assignment than the average freelancer in your niche. You get paid by the hour and you need more time to research – so compensate your lack of research skills with slightly lowered price.
Another example. If you are a bi-lingual translator and have extraordinary typing speed, most probably you will complete the job way faster than your competition. Bid with a higher price but make sure you have explained in your freelance cover letter why your price is higher than the competitors’ fees. A potential client would reject your application due to high bid unless you win them over with the fact that you will complete the translation twice faster than the cheaper contractors and with twice better quality.
If you are a freelancer in the second situation, I would suggest you consider negotiating a fixed-price job instead of hourly paid work for this task. Then the client is happy he pays a certain budget and you are happy that you don’t get paid less only because you are working fast 😉 Let’s put some numbers to it, if it’s not clear:
If one page English to Russian translation is done for 1 hour and costs $20, the average freelancer would negotiate a price of $20 per hour. You, being with perfect Russian and English and super fast typing speed, will get the job done in 30 min. If you negotiate the hourly rate of $20, you will get paid only half of it – $10, as you finished the job in half an hour. If you bid with hourly rate of $40 to compensate for your quick work, the client may consider this price too high. And if you negotiate a fixed price job – the translation of 1 page English-Russian translation for $20, then the client will be happy to pay the allocated budget without any regards how much time it took you to do it (1 or half an hour?!) – and you still get paid what you want.
This example is with illustration purposes only. I have no idea how much time it takes or how much it costs to translate one page from English to Russian.
Lorraine Marie Reguly says
Me, neither! I speak English only!
hahaha, right! well, i used this $20 as a sample rate as it calculates easily and only because i know $10 is too low for anything and anywhere where they speak Russian 😀 thanks for stopping by, Lorraine!
I have several freelance people working for me. The first thing I do is give them a trial task. From the person doing the hiring you have no way to monitor the hours that someone is putting into a job. Here is where trust plays a bigger part for me then anything else. Yes I want someone who is good but that goes without saying. I have been fortunate to have freelance writers working for me for years. I want that kind of a relationship of building a business partnership.
Thanks for your comment, Arleen!
Yes, trust and building a partnership is the right way to go for both the client and the freelancer – i am so glad you have found the right freelancers and you’ve been working with hem for years!
For the record though, i’d like to point out that websites like oDesk and Elance do give the client a way to monitor hours – with their screen-snapshots applications… I mention that briefly in my post reviewing oDesk.
Jim Adams says
As a freelance designer the starting rate is £35-£50 per hour for a ‘Senior’ designer – ie, someone who has vast industry experience and a portfolio to match. Unfortunately there are a whole host of ‘clients’ out there who seem happy to work with people charging as little as $10 an hour through 99designs.com or peopleperhour and are unaware that the work they are getting is ‘spun’.
By that I mean it’s not original, often plagiarised and of a very sub-standard quality – and ultimately will harm your business. If its for writing and Google picks up duplicate content it is worthless, and potentially damaging. Thankfully to counter this there are many individuals and businesses who are aware that you get what you pay for, be that design, copywriting, illustration or any service. My footnote would be only ever work for people that appreciate the quality of work you produce.
Amen to that, Jim – working with clients who appreciate their freelancer’s skills and work is very important. However, in the defense of those who work for $10 per hour – often they come from low socio-economic countries and $10 per hour is A LOT of money for them. They cannot even imagine they can make more money per hour…
Most of them are really of mediocre quality (writing or design, doesn’t matter) but i have found pearls among them too – i mean really high quality and original work for really small pay rate. Well, good news is that these people (the good ones) sooner or later understand that good clients do appreciate their freelancers and they raise their fees accordingly. You really get what you pay for but the opposite is true too – you really get paid for what you deliver. So low socio-economic country or not – quality work does cost money. 😉
thanks for joining the conversation, Jim!
Debra Yearwood says
As someone who works in a charitable organization with little money I can see the temptation would be there to simply go for the lowest price, but my experience is that like wine, with freelancers you get what you pay for. You may be lucky enough to get an amazing performer for a low rate, but chances are you’d be better off paying a little more for someone who has experience and a track record you can review. This information is so useful Diana, for freelancers and also for those of us who have to hire freelancers. It gives some insight into why prices might vary and makes it clear it isn’t a one size fits all world.
Thanks for your comment and feedback, Debra! It most certainly isn’t one size fits all world… But let me also elaborate on something – you say you’d be better off paying a little more for someone who has experience and a track record you can review. Let’s not forget that every professional with proven track record has started from somewhere at some point.
What i mean is that while we certainly could and should weigh in the track record when choosing a freelancer, we shouldn’t dismiss a freelancer only because they lack their track record – maybe we are that first client who will give them a chance to become a great freelancer with proven track record 😀
I believe you can sense if a freelancer is a good fit for your project from the communication on personal level, from his or her attitude toward the world, toward their work, toward your project, toward you if you wish. But hey, this now has nothing to do with the post… hahaha, i created some offtopic, sorry – i get carried away sometimes! 😀
Elizabeth Scott says
There is a saying “You get what you pay for” and there are many clients only want the bottom rate. As you mentioned, walk away because it probably isn’t the best situation. When I look for a client, I want someone I can partner with. This way the client is on board with creating a win win situation for both of us.
Depending on the service wanted, I will also create a retainer rate for those who need a monthly rate for specified projects.
Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth! Those clients who look for the bottom rate only are often not worth your time and efforts, neither the money you’d get from them end of the day. Finding the balance and making it a mutual beneficial contract IS the core of the successful relationship client-freelancer, i agree.
As for the retainer fee, that’s a good idea – if your tasks would be repetitive and the same on monthly basis… my next post i about fixed price jobs – read it tomorrow! 😉
Doreen Pendgracs says
I think that how quickly we can complete a project is the critical point when determining how much we will charge for a writing project. If it’s something I can bang out in one hour, I will accept a much lower rate than if it’s going to take me hours to research and write. Once you’ve been in the business awhile, you’ll gain a good sense of what types of projects you enjoy and can handle quickly, and which ones are tedious and are best left to someone else.
Hey, Doreen! thanks for your comment. I agree with what you say – about time being a factor when determining the price. But for me – it’s a factor for marketing and/or strategy planning but not for writing gigs. In general, i prefer writing on flat rates and here’s why…
I can easily get $60-70 for writing a squeeze page + conceptual design (not the design itself but recommendations what goes where on the page and why). Now, depending on the niche and preliminary info given, it could take me anywhere between 30 min. to 1 hour and 30 min. to actually write the squeeze page. So, if i am working by the hour, no way i can charge so much – i mean, who would hire me for $120 per hour for a squeeze page when there are people writing as low as $20 for such materials… Of course, what the client won’t consider is that the freelancer at $20 per hour would need 5 hours and i would need only 30 min. – the money is the same end of the day.
But because of such scenarios, i prefer writing on flat rates and definitely don;t consider time needed as a factor to accept low hourly pay rate when it comes to writing.
Hope this helps 😀
Ash / Madlemmings says
Wow, I think I gotta stay out of freelancing. Corporate rates in Switzerland for temp senior web developers are sometimes 1000 per day. It is an expensive country to live in. So putting yourself on the world market would be tough I guess!!
But in the future I may well be looking to offload some of my blog work – so interesting to read this discussion
Thanks for sharing your wealth of experience
yes, Ash, you should definitely stay away from freelancing – LOL.
Although, there are plenty of developers who make that kind of money when freelancing – depends on the skills and level of proficiency i guess but when you say “temp senior web developers” you make it sound a pretty ordinary developer…
Maybe it’s a good idea to move out of Switzerland where life is not so expensive and go freelance to have the freedom to work whenever, wherever, although for less money than $1000 per day 😀