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As a freelancer I am putting together a strong online portfolio/website to offer my services.

I am putting the usual things in (blog/about/portfolio etc.) but I was thinking of creating a few pages (maybe password protected) that outline a lot of the questions people ask first when looking to hire you, so that I don't have to waste time typing it all out again (including my policies).

As a part of this, I was thinking of making a 'rates' page that outlined my rates.

  • Firstly, is this an outright bad idea? Will I potentially scare away potential clients or alternatively, sell myself short by putting a number down?

  • I want to offer myself primarily as a programmer and web developer, but I do a lot of frontend/templating and also general web consulting. I generally charge different rates for these different services. Again, is it a bad idea to show potential clients that my rates vary (leaving them to say "how can you charge your time differently?")

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Some clients will try to screw you (watch "f@#k you, pay me"). Some will try to get an additional discount out of you (a "smart bear" blogged about enterprise sales). Publishing your rates does you a disservice, as it gives some opportunistic people an upper hand. Even if you do not end up striking a deal with them, you will end up wasting your time, which you do not want to. You need to be able to set the right rates, and to be able to quickly figure out when someone can barely afford your services, and decide if you want to push forward. –  Job Oct 13 '11 at 22:02
    
Thought 1. You could prepare some boilerplate text to give people if it seems appropriate, and save on typing, without making it public. –  Jack V. Oct 31 '11 at 17:48
    
Thought 2. The other posts seem to describe what's usual for the market, so you should probably listen to them. However, as a mostly-outsider, I'd comment to remember that if you hope to get any business from niche markets or other people who might be hiring someone like you for the first time, many of their response to not seeing rates will be "I've no idea how to negotiate this without looking stupid so I'll go somewhere else". That doesn't need a fixed rate, but a ballpark figure for different sorts of jobs would help. (If the upside seems more than the downside of people taking advantage.) –  Jack V. Oct 31 '11 at 17:53

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I would not want to publish a "rates" page. I would prefer not to broach the subject of rates until other conversations have occurred and I get a feel for what my rate should be for this particular project.

You may have different rates for different services, but you may also find you have different rates for different clients.

Finally the subject of rate should be a conversation, preferable face to face, as opposed to reading off of a document. Your services are unique, its not like order something off of a menu.

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4  
Some clients definately merit higher rates! –  GrandmasterB Oct 13 '11 at 20:40
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Agreed. If you want a nice list of Rates, make it a document you send to them, and put a date and the client's name on it, so you can be sure nobody comes to you with incorrect expectations. –  benzado Oct 13 '11 at 20:40
    
I hadn't though of different rates for different clients and I can see now why publishing them might be a mistake. I trying to streamline as much as possible up front - I hate wasting time speculating. –  Timmy O'Mahony Oct 13 '11 at 20:57

Different skills and services have different values in different markets. Value yourself accordingly.

I can say from experience of working at a web design / marketing / development shop that each set of services were priced differently. Not to give exact numbers or market location, I can say that my skills as a programmer were sold at 150% of the rate of design work, for example. So the company I formerly worked for would charge $1.50* as compared to $1 for an hour of my work versus an hour of a designer's work. They did this based upon the quality of work we were able to provide and in consideration of competitor pricing for the same services in the same market.

(*Numbers greatly reduced. I'm worth at least 2 bucks.)

Note: I also agree completely with Gratzy's answer, the rates were not published and certain clients most definitely received "discounts." And even for "non-preferred" clients, the real truth was this, particularly in the present economy: the clients had a budget. Our sales / management team had to figure out a way for us to work within that budget. If that involved massaging rates to varying degree (bend, but don't break), then that's what happened.

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Thanks for the answer. It's good to see different rates happily coinciding and that was the ratio I was thinking. –  Timmy O'Mahony Oct 13 '11 at 20:55

Generally, freelancer services are not like a menu or catalog of products. You should be negotiating your rates on a case-by-case basis, based on your actual costs, financial needs, and what the client is willing to pay.

If you put down a static number, you may be saving some time on communication with clients who can't afford you, but you also don't get the chance to haggle; if you advertise $150/hr as your going rate, but can get away with a sharply discounted rate on a long contract because it's a lot of steady work, you may lose clients that never even talk to you because they can't afford $150/hr for the 6 months they think something will take, when really you'd accept half that or less because you know where your next meal is coming from.

Instead, I would simply advertise "competitive rates" and that can be a negotiating point.

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Freelancing is a market driven activity.

Your rate should be "the best I can negotiate with a client". Publishing rates will lose you work (because you sound too expensive) or money (because your published rate is below the current market rate).

Think of it as more like share prices. The rate you can get for a given job varies from week to week, and, has very little to do with the difficulty or skill required. Nobody in there right mind would post a static "I sell Apple shares for $100 each" on their web site. The same with freelance rates.

I would not put too much value on a Web Site unless you intend to do lots of small bespoke projects for small businesses. Your CV is what larger/corporate clients will evaluate and your efforts should be concentrated on getting the CV in front of clients.

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