{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Dear new freelancers: stop lowballing your rate by charging like you were a fulltimer. You have to pay for your own healthcare, equipment, holidays, sick days AND downtime between gigs.", "post_id": "5ea1b1f1d3583e002b747005", "reply_count": 20, "vote_count": 65, "bowl_id": "5908c9d5f735ee00105b9fa4", "bowl_name": "WFH Freelancers" }

Dear new freelancers: stop lowballing your rate by charging like you were a fulltimer. You have to pay for your own healthcare, equipment, holidays, sick days AND downtime between gigs.

likesmart
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By lowballing, you are not only hurting yourself, you also cause rates to drop for everyone else.

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Reality check: if you think we’re going to turn away a gig right now in the mother of all job droughts because a client can’t meet at full rate (since yes they’ve had to lay off staff and are issuing pay cuts across the board so we know they’re not bluffing) then that’s just unrealistic. We’re all trying desperately hard to make ends meet and placing the burden of the entire freelance industry on individuals’ shoulders is unfair. Beggars cannot be choosers. It’s a supply demand economy and the supply is low, so basic business sense is to make it flex. Of course freelance means rates should always be a premium above full time rate, but the freelancers with less ego who are accommodating to temporary and reasonable flex in rates will win out. Get in the game friends or be left on the sidelines. And if you are a new freelancer reading this, don’t get intimidated and discouraged. You do what you need to do to make it work! No one can tell you what you should and should not charge.

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I freelanced here in NYC through the dotcom crash, the wake of 9/11, the Great Recession, and now Covid. Back in ’01 I had to wait on an unemployment line alongside displaced workers from the old Twin Towers. I have a bit of experience on this topic. Of course, we should be more flexible and charge somewhat lower rates because of supply and demand, and the dire situation we have. You are right in that regard. But this post is about people who are new to freelancing, and are unfamiliar with how freelance rates work. They are saying yes to freelance rates that are extremely low. So low, it’s lower than divvying up the rate of a fulltimer. Naming a rate that is too low lets an agency take advantage of you, point blank. Because it’s so low, it depresses the pay of each and every one of us. Our line of work, despite being our bread and butter, is not even close to an essential service, and agencies do not deserve heavy discounts that come directly from the blood and sweat from us, the freelancers. Even in a situation like this, we cannot let them take advantage of us.

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And getting back to your usual rates will take a very, very long time, if at all. Stop setting precedence. This will be over soon so please hang in there.

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You need to charge at least $100-$125/hr in NYC to stay afloat and pay for healthcare etc (note, make sure you freelance - more correctly “temp” - on W2 for companies not offering healthcare so you can claim unemployment between gigs and even Medicaid). Staffing agencies typically charge a seniorish creative out at $125-135/hr and want to pay you $95, so you can see what the margin is: $30-40/hr. If you’re going direct and you keep it real you’ll be kept on. Don’t be greedy, but I think $100-125 depending on the duration (short ask for upper end) or your talent (awards and experience ask for upper end) —-IN NYC—- is very fair. You need to pay for healthcare, housing, food and build your retirement - this is critical. Oh and sure you can be one of these $250/hr freelancers too - just be prepared to deliver without fail, split atoms and be a “hired gun” for shorter stints. It’s all math.

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And taxes, don’t forget.

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So What's the general ratio you want to aim for to charge for contract work? If someone makes $100k/yr salary they should charge no less than how much per hour for contract work?

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CD 3 has the right idea.

Give yourself x weeks vacation. When I started, it was 2 weeks. Figure out how much you want to make in a year. For me at the start, it was 80k. Divide that by (52-x). Fifty two weeks in a year minus my two weeks of vacation was 50 weeks. For me, that was 1,600 a week. Divide that by 40 hours in a typical work week. For me, that was 40/hr. This is your rate for the time you actually work. But as a freelancer, you’ll be taking on a lot of the work your full time employer would have: invoicing, HR, payment, taxes, healthcare. This can take just as much time as the time you work, so you still need to account for this. Double the rate you just came to. For me, that was 80/hr. I started negotiating there, but honestly, I could’ve started higher and held that as my minimum. Every six months (at a minimum every 12) I raise my rates. Obviously, once your momentum gets underway, a lot of this will change. Some clients will want more, others will want to bill by the project. Once you have more experience, you’ll be able to make these kinds of judgements for yourself. The above method is a good way to find out where to start, though. I have clients paying 120, 110, 105 and 90 an hour now. For what it’s worth, I work more hours with the lower paying gigs and less hours with the higher paying ones, but that wasn’t intentional. It just worked out that way. I could probably ask for more, but I’m going to wait out all this coronavirus stuff first.

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sorry bud, these are mine while I got em

How low are people going? Give an example of what you think is low, what made you post this. Depends also on the length of contract, depth of work etc.

If you have the balls to call yourself a CD on LinkedIn even though you’re maybe an ACD at best, then have the balls to know your legit GDMF worth. Otherwise, whenever things get better, you’ll likely never be able to get your day rate back to where it was. Be reasonable, but don’t be stupid.

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