There are several challenges to overcome as a freelancer, but the main one that seems to crop up again and again is what to charge and knowing your worth.

What do we mean by that? Knowing your worth is understanding how valuable your time is, charging clients accordingly and being confident enough to stick to your guns. Sound easy? Not always…

So where do you start? Here are seven simple steps that may help….

  1. Calculate your rates

No doubt that most of you took the plunge into freelancing after working full-time for an organisation where you earned an annual salary. It can be tempting to figure out what your daily rate was when you were employed and charge a similar amount as a freelancer, but don’t forget, you didn’t have to do your own tax return, sort out your own pension and insurance, cover sickness and holidays and buy your own equipment and software.

We’re getting ready to launch our freelance rates calculator, a handy free tool where you can see what freelancers up and down the UK charge, but in the meantime there are lots of social media communities where you can ask questions on rates, and people will be happy to help you. The Freelance Kit private Facebook group is a great starting place, you can join here The Freelance Kit Members Group  and The Northern Creative Collective are another lovely bunch who are always happy to help, mainly based in the North of the UK-join here TNCC

Decide if you will work hourly or split your time into half or full days, and also decide from the start if you’ll have a minimum monthly time allocation for new clients. It can help to approach freelancing with a more flexible approach in the beginning and see what works for you. But once you have decided, set your boundaries and stick to them. And don’t forget to put your rates up in line with annual cost of living increases.

  1. Understand your worth

Understanding your worth is about realising what value you bring to the table. Can you generate on target media coverage that will help to drive sales and web traffic? Are you an incredible web designer or developer that can revamp a brand’s website to ensure that more users convert into sales? Can you boost a client’s Google rankings with your amazing knowledge of SEO? Transform their social media pages, increase followers and drive engagement? It’s about remembering how experienced or knowledgeable you are in an area and keeping a positive mindset around that.

Remember why you went into freelancing – you believed in yourself and your skills enough to know that you can improve business for your clients and bring something valuable to the table.

It can be really easy to start doubting yourself when clients try and get you down on cost, or go for the cheaper option, but the more you get used to being firm and knowing your value, the better the clients you’ll attract.

  1. Find Your support network and be confident in yourself! 

Most freelancers suffer from imposter syndrome at various times but take a deep breath and remember why you went in to freelancing in the first place, you were obviously confident in your skills and ability. You have experience, you have knowledge, you have the business acumen to succeed, and if you don’t feel that way at first, one solution is to work with a coach or join supportive groups.

Even established freelancers get bogged down by the daily grind of chasing invoices and negotiating on price, so by surrounding yourself with a freelance tribe, you’ll have the support and a sounding board for those moments of self-doubt.

  1. Don’t panic!

It can be super tempting to go into panic mode and drop your rates or offer huge discounts just to get clients, but this is not a good long-term strategy and you’ll be devaluing yourself and your work.

If you want to offer lower rates or do pro-bono work for causes you feel passionate about, or for friends who are starting a new venture, that’s fine – but overall, don’t give your skills and knowledge away for nothing. Your time is valuable and so are you.

Sometimes a client or project adds value by being a great portfolio piece or they may introduce you to other potential clients so it’s worth offering a slightly lower rate, just weigh it up and do whatever feels good.

  1. Get tough! 

After a while, you will learn to spot the warning signs and red flags when it comes to particular clients who constantly pay late, undermine your work, demand more and more (unpaid) time or constantly pick your brains for free.

Always have clear terms from the outset and a strict onboarding process. Every client should receive a contract outlining your terms and the work involved. Any extras should be clearly highlighted.

Remember, your agreed allocated time needs to include meetings, travel time, admin, reporting AND two-hour phone calls! If you are consistently pulled in various directions and expected to give your time away for free, it’s time for a polite note reminding the client of your terms. After all, you will have other clients to look after and it’s crucially important to value your time.

  1. Mind the gap!

We all know that the gender pay gap is still very real in the workplace and sadly in the freelance world too.

Many believe that men are better at asking for money than women who have historically been conditioned to believe that asking for a pay-rise at work makes them appear difficult and demanding. The freelance pay gap could also have something to do with the reasons that women and men became self-employed in the first place. A recent Independent article (1) explored this very topic and found that men went freelance to be their own boss, while women wanted more freedom and flexibility for family life.

Don’t ever be scared for asking for more and for challenging rates in your sector.

  1. Know your rights and make sure you’re covered

In the US, freelance rights far outweigh our own. According to the IRS, American independent workers have the legal right to work where and when they like and subcontract without client knowledge. In New York, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act law was passed which:

establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, specifically the right to:

•    A written contract
•    Timely and full payment
•    Protection from retaliation

The law establishes penalties for violations of these rights, including statutory damages, double damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees” 

In the UK, we are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment, entitled to get paid for the work we produce, and we are also protected against discrimination.

For your own peace of mind, it’s imperative you have a signed contract with clients, and it’s definitely worth making sure you have adequate insurance for critical illness cover. Shameless plug, you can buy a 15 page legal contract with payment terms and conditions here SHOP 

Remember to make sure you have a financial safety net for any cash flow emergencies, set aside enough money for your tax and NI bill as you go along, and take the advice of an accountant when filling in that dreaded tax return. It’s also worth arming yourself with the facts about freelancer rights and financial rights regarding maternity leave if you’re planning an addition to the family.

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You can join our FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community here. 

And grab your FREE Ultimate Freelance Guide here,The Ultimate Freelance Guide 2020 with 45 top tools and tips from our community.

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.