How to know your worth as a freelancer?

Published on May 28, 2019

One thing that I don't believe I am good at is valuing my skills and my time. I always feel like I'm doing "it" wrong when negotiating for a new job or pitching to a potential client.

By "it" I mean salary negotiation.

Talking about money and my personal "worth" makes me feel awkward, and that's 100% reflected in my negotiation skills. The problem for me is that most negotiations always go the same way.

They say, "what's your rate?" 

I say X. They usually say "OK".

And it's over before I know it.

In that short exchange I've gotten absolutely no feedback on whether my price was right or wrong.

Usually, I assume, if they say "yes" right away, then I've probably done something wrong: I've priced myself too low. I suppose, I'm afraid of pricing myself higher because I want to:

a.) avoid conflict and

b.) because I'm a self taught programmer, so there's this element of imposter syndrome that I find hard to shake off.

When I talk to other freelancers about money I always get a wildly different number. And when I talk to business owners I also always get a different figure on what they are willing to pay. Some businesses are happy to pay eye-watering rates because their revenue volume is incredibly high.

Most small businesses who need a landing page and contact form generally want to squeeze as much as they can out of you for as little as possible.

And then with an actual job it's a different story altogether. The rate you negotiate is always at least a third, sometimes even a fifth or more, of what they, as a business, charge you out for. So, if a large company can charge me out for $500 an hour, why can't I just freelance for $500 an hour? Well, that depends on the client who is willing to pay that directly to me ... Maybe I am looking in the wrong places for my clients?

Anyway, I suppose what I'm looking to work on is how to negotiate better and how to extract more information and understanding about the potential client or business I'm speaking with. That way I can make a more informed decision about my worth and the value I can bring them.


Have you been in a similar situation before? Or does anyone know any good talks, books, or places I can go to learn more about pricing myself, negotiating and that sort of thing?