My new theory is that you should be ambivalent in your pricing amount as a consultant. That is, part of you should really really want the job, because the money’s good, but part of you should dread getting the job, because it’s a lot of work. You should be secretly happy if you win it and secretly happy if you lose it.
If you price a job too high, and you don’t get it, you will feel regret.
If you price a job too low, and you get it, you will feel regret.
This is, of course, impacted by competition in the marketplace, to some extant. But, really, the principle is the same. If you’re young, you’ll be primarily focused on getting work for experience, which may influence your pricing lower, but you should still feel a twinge of regret at winning and a twinge of relief at losing. When you’re older, or busy, or experienced, you will price things a little higher — even in the face of competition. again, you should still feel a twinge of regret at winning and a twinge of relief at losing.
The ambivalence theory of pricing is useful for several reasons: it rewards you increasingly more money the more busy you are, but it insures that you don’t pointlessly overwork yourself for no reason, giving yourself no time to enjoy life. As your priorities change, your pricing will more or less automatically change to reflect your new life priorities. It’s more or less linked to the larger economy, but not in any straight “the average hour for consulting in this field is X so you should charge X” kind of way, but it IS tied to reality because you’re a citizen of this country, you have bills and expenses that are more or less like everyone else. And if you have an exorbitant, expensive lifestyle, you’re pricing will go up. If the market can sustain your new pricing, you’ll get it. If you don’t, your ambivalence levels about willing jobs at certain levels will change, and you’ll also probably start changing your expense curve.
You’ll also not be able to help but charge evil, bad, or un-fun clients more, and do-gooders, kind people and fun projects less. This is not a bad thing.
But the most important reason is that the ambivalence approach to pricing solves the single biggest problems with freelancers pricing: knowing what to accurately charge. Many freelancers have a problem figuring out what to fairly charge their clients. This is the best method I’ve come up with to solving that dilemma.