My time is valuable too
If you’re fundamentally a creative soul, like me, more often than not, money will become an issue in your life. I live in a Star Trek utopia, where money isn’t a thing, and we can just bumble on trying to better humanity. Oh no, that’s not right, I live with massive debt and a ton of bills to pay each week. I’m a regular person, just like everyone else.
Someone once told me that if I charged forty dollars an hour, I would only ever be able to charge forty dollars an hour and that I needed to place value on my experience and expertise. This was a foreign concept to me at the time. I had to recognize my value and charge for my consultancy services accordingly. I struggled with the concept because I didn’t have a degree or formal marketing qualifications, however, I adjusted my rate, puffed out my chest and the rest is history.
I thought that when I moved to a small town in regional Australia, that people wouldn’t pay the hourly rate that I had been charging overseas. I thought that the lower socio-economic area where I was living would dictate my hourly rate, and I amended my rates to match what I thought the area would pay. So I was designing websites for as little as three hundred dollars and business cards for fifty.
A funny thing was happening though, these small websites that I was selling in droves, weren’t insignificant in my client’s eyes, they were important. I thought that because it’s a micro-site, I didn’t need to make much effort, or that my clients wouldn’t expect tons of customer service. I could not have been any more incorrect. Clients that were paying three hundred dollars felt that they were just getting a great deal and they would be receiving thousands of dollars in content and value from my expertise.
This business model didn’t last long; the clients weren’t happy, my assistant and I were run off our feet for little profit, everyone was not getting enough out of the arrangement. I had made a mistake. I needed to switch things up. Go back to the hourly rate that put value in me and my brand. Almost overnight things started to pick up, and five years later, we have an impressive client roster who we have great relationships with and everyone is much happier. I may not have millions of dollars personally, but I have helped brands globally leverage their powers of communication, and that has real value.
When you pick your rate, work out how much profit you’d have if you charged that rate for forty hours and then work it out if you were booked for twenty hours. If that’s not enough for you to survive, then you need to adjust the rate so that it fits. There will be weeks where you don’t bill many hours, but then there will be jobs that keep you afloat for a few weeks.
It’s hard to nail the figure, but when inflation goes up, so does your rate. It should increase by at least 3% a year to be inline with the cost of rent increases etc (based on Australia) don’t be scared to make these changes, if you are providing services to your client that they love, they’ll be more than happy to pay the little bit extra.
It doesn’t matter what your skills are, but if you are in an industry that you are passionate about, and you know your shit, then there is value in the proposition, you need to take a breath, recognize that value, and go out there and charge it. Do a good job, be a great communicator and clients will not only stick with you, but they’ll become your biggest advocates. Sometimes it doesn’t work, you’re not going to get on with everyone all the time, and sometimes expectations cannot align no matter how hard you try. But it’s definitely worth trying.