Know your Worth! A Guide to Setting your Rates 99u.adobe.com3 years ago in #Business Love122

“What’s your rate?” It’s hard to think of another question from a potential client that instills a greater sense of dread in freelancers. Even seasoned independent workers tell us they still balk when asked for their rates. If you think about it practically, it’s silly: you’re a professional, you’re good at what you do, and you have the experience and skillset to back that up. But in reality, emotions often kick in and it’s not that easy. Maybe it’s because we’ve been conditioned not to talk about money. Maybe it’s because of a nagging sense of imposter syndrome. Maybe it’s a fear of over-bidding and losing the gig or burning a bridge. Or maybe it’s the opposite, that we’re afraid of coming in too low and under-valuing our work. “Freelancers have worked really, really hard for their rate,” explains Cindy Medina Carson, CEO and Founder of, a new company that’s working to narrow the wage gap by pairing professionals to have open and transparent conversations about how much they make. “They feel every dollar they get.” But then why then do we find it so hard to ask for what we deserve? Medina Carson has a hypothesis: “There’s a kind of identity crisis: A fear that the dollar amount quoted becomes who you are. But it’s not. The rate you quote once is one decision you make. It doesn’t define you.” There’s a second part of her hypothesis: “People have a really hard time having honest, open conversations about money. They don’t know how. So then they don’t have the information necessary to make an informed decision.” And as any person who’s ever had to set an hourly or project rate knows, Medina Carson’s right on both counts. In that spirit, here are a few tips, formulas, and some general advice to keep in mind when it comes to setting your rates. *** Don’t Go First If you can help it, don’t be the first person to give out a rate. Why? Quoting your rate before having a ballpark idea of a project’s budget puts you at a distinct disadvantage in both directions — you risk sounding wildly expensive or insanely cheap. One way to get around this? If asked for your rate, come back with a polite and professional, “It varies depending on the project and scope of work. Can you give me an idea of what you’re looking for and your allocated budget for the project?” It doesn’t always work, but it’s a strong first step. Get Comps If you were researching a fair compensation package for a full-time job, or getting ready to ask for a raise, you’d do your homework and get comparable salaries. Freelancing is no different, except for the fact that it can be harder to find the information you’re looking for. “Get bold and talk to people,” says Medina Carson. Of course, she adds, you have to be careful how you go about these fact-finding missions. “Going from totally opaque when talking about salary to radical transparency is hard, you have to walk people to that a bit,” she explains.  So how do you go about these delicate conversations? First, find your people. Facebook groups or Slack channels for your industry are a good place to start, as are your peers. Medina Carson suggests asking open-ended questions like “My background is X and I’m looking for work doing Y. What’s a good range to expect?” or “I’m new to freelancing. I used to make $Z dollars, what’s a realistic goal? Any tips on pricing?” And of course, don’t just ask for help…

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