I have an admission to make. There was a time when I was charging £3 per article. Regardless of the length or topic, the rate was £3. Shocking. I was new to the game and decided that £0 wouldn’t do, so I upped the figure on the invoice significantly. Do you know what happened next? It meant people did not take me seriously. I actually lost work from people that were willing to pay because I came up with a figure far below minimum wage. One time a music website editor phoned to ask why I hadn’t sent any content and he put the phone down when I said he still owed me £9. For real. (Tweet me if you want to know the site).
I had good reason for charging so little back then. My only other writing at the time was on Ciao, a site where you get pennies per post and increased based on how many ratings your post received. Getting a solid £3 for an article felt like a lot to me, when I should have been charging in the £15-£20 region for the kind of sites I was writing for. I was young and knew no better. I truly believed in the currency of exposure and it wasn’t like I was struggling for cash at the time. Anything would do.
When you have absolutely no idea what other people are getting paid for the same work, it’s easy to find yourself in this kind of situation. People will take advantage of skilled people that may know a thing or two about graphic design, copywriting, admin, and just take them for a ride. Now it’s easier than ever to work out a fair rate for your work.
Before I expand, there’s one thing I need you to promise me: don’t work for exposure. The excuse that “it’s just how it works in this industry” is a complete lie in 99% of the time. If you’re doing a task that the computer company/person would otherwise have to pay someone to do, they can pay you to do it to. It doesn’t matter if you’re new charging for it as a freelancer. With a portfolio and a couple of friends to vouch as references, you can graduate to paid work with your first opportunity.
The best way to know how to charge for a service is to ask someone that already does it. I’m sure you follow someone in your field online. I’m telling you now that you need to suck in your pride and just ask them. Go for someone way ahead of you with lots of experience, and they should be happy to share what an entry-level rate looks like. Make a temp, anonymous account if you want to. It’s better to do it from your own account because they might even check out what you do and help you get work.
If you’re completely against this, a good place to start is on People Per Hour. Type in whatever skills you’d like to freelance and see what people are charging on the lower end of the scale. Don’t you dare dip below minimum wage. As you get more experience, your skills will improve and you’ll be able to charge a rate that your time is really worth.
As long as what you can supply meets the expectations of your price tag, you’re charging the correct rate. Now go out there and claim the money you deserve.