be free, lance / know your worth

I put a note out on facebook the other day asking for new freelance topics that you guys would like to cover. A bunch of you responded already, but if you have new ideas that aren’t currently listed, please comment right here. Today, we’ll cover confidence + self worth. Pricing is a tricky subject ( & I’ve covered it a few times in the past ) – but I’m going to tell you about a little secret today that can help with the confidence factor.

When I first started out, I undervalued my own work. Not only was I scared to talk about money, but I was constantly being told that possible clients “couldn’t afford my prices.” This baffled me, simply because I knew deep down that I was already cutting people a very good deal … so why was it so hard to land a gig??

I realize now that my error back in the day was a lack of professionalism. Since then, I’ve created a very in-depth pricing sheet that covers my hourly rate + standard base fees for all offered packages ( branding, website design, etc. ) as well as a little brief of what is included. Although each final quote is individualized, I’ve found it extremely helpful to be able to send out an informational sheet from the get go. This establishes professionalism and an understanding of what the going rate ranges are.

Believe it or not, I 100% believe that you will score more projects by simply creating a well branded pricing sheet of your own. As soon as I did this for myself, my inquiry to signed contract percentage skyrocketed. Think of it as the first form of communication for you to PROVE that you’re an experienced designer who is more than capable to take on creative work. Talk the talk.

PS. If you want to take things to the next level, email potential clients a nicely designed PDF of your general process from the start as well. That way, they’ll be able to picture themselves actually working with you and what is all included in the price.

  1. Noor says:

    I love this series because your such a design inspiration to me. I would have never guessed that you were once the way you described yourself in the beginning.

  2. Lee Owens says:

    So true! I had experienced the same problems in the beginning. Your Be Free, Lance series is so helpful to those of us starting out. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Lee

  3. dee says:

    awesome! i would love to know if you’ve ever worked with friends, or family and if you charge a different price for them? tricky territory…lol

    • Angel Y. says:

      Most of my recurring clients are my close friends and I don’t think I’ve ever charged them any differently than my other clients. I think it’s important to make those boundaries and they respect you for it. However, I am a fan of the barter system and I don’t mind trading a consultation of my expertise for theirs and vice versa. :)

    • breanna says:

      This IS a tricky territory. I’ve worked for free for immediate family, but that’s where I draw the line. I’m always hesitant to even work for friends because I don’t want anything with our relationship to change, but I have made a few exceptions and given a few discounts + trades here and there.

    • Shayla says:

      Dee, I have a set friends and family discount and I stick to it no matter what. Friends and most especially family often want (and expect) me to work for free but I know from experience that doing that is setting the ground for a very bad situation down the road. So I offer a discount and accept that it may not be enough for them but it’s all I can do. My time and work is no less valuable just because I am working for a friend or family.

    • dee says:

      thanks for the response everyone! i am working with a friend now and it’s totally not worth my time in terms of how much i am making…but it’s for a good cause and the hope is that it may lead to other jobs that compensate properly down the road…thank you!

    • Angela says:

      My husband and I have a policy when writing proposals: free or full price. Basically we’ve found that when we do work for free (for immediate family or very close friends), we have more creative freedom and more relaxed deadlines. Since you’re doing people a big favor, they’re usually really cool about that stuff. If you charge full price, then you get to give the job just as high a priority as any other project and you have a professional business relationship. The problem always happens for us when we discount, because since they’re not paying as much as a “real” project, we tend to low-prioritize them and deadlines get pushed, we resent working on them after hours, etc. We’re definitely ok with trades though!

    • Noor says:

      Some of my worse situations have came to me when I did a freebie for a friend and I had always wished that I never did. I have learned to charge everyone the same price regardless. The problem is when people feel close to you they start forgetting that your time is valuable and being extra picky and not knowing when enough is enough.

  4. Great article! I do believe most designers undervalue themselves in the beginning because everything is so new. You’re so grateful for the opportunities to work with clients that you forget how much of yourself you put into each project. It’s always interesting to me as freelancer how the value for our services continues to grow as we learn new skills and work with new clients. I don’t think I would have things any other way.

  5. Shayla says:

    Great advice Breanna!
    I’m shy by nature so putting together a pricing and process sheet was a HUGE help for my business as well. I took the anxiety of the initial cost discussion out of the equation for me and it’s definitely more professional. I remember how nervous I was when I first sent this to a client and I’ll never forget her response “I love how professional and put together everything is, now I know exactly what I can expect.”

    I also did a lot of research about average rates (which I shared on my blog for others like me) and I set mine accordingly even though I didn’t fully have the confidence at the time in a strange way it helped me to gain the confidence I needed. I truly believe that you determine your worth and if you believe it others will too. :)

    • breanna says:

      Yes, exactly! I’ve gotten the same response countless times. It definitely sets the tone and allows your client to think “oh hey, this person is LEGIT.” And that’s never a bad thing as long as you can back it up through and through.

  6. Hi Bri!
    So funny that this is the topic of your post today. Just yesterday I created a sheet for a potential client. I am just starting out and I am very shy when it comes to talking about money. It seems to me that people undervalue creative work. Anyway, I was wondering if you could possibly take a look at the sheet I created and offer some feedback?

    Thanks!

    Brooke

  7. Kory says:

    This is great advice. I have my pricing on my blog, but I know that with an in depth pdf of how the process goes and what you’re actually getting, I would hopefully have more luck with clients. I’ll definitely have to start working on this!

  8. alicia says:

    Really great advice and I couldn’t agree more. I’m terrible at salesmanship but being confident (not cocky!!) about your work, your skills and your business makes the worlds difference.
    Also having a proper branded and detailed sales sheet will help YOU do your estimates and proposals faster and with more ease too :)

  9. Casi says:

    So helpful! You’ve provided me with a large to-do list for my freelancing endeavors. I’ll feel so much more confident with a predetermined pricing sheet ready to go! Thanks Breanna!

  10. a says:

    hello. quick question. what commenting system do you use? it’s so sleek compared to others

    • breanna says:

      Thank you! I just use the default wordpress comment form, but it’s heavily tweaked with CSS to look pretty.

  11. I’ve been struggling with this exact problem… I work with a lot of small businesses and they claim not to be able to afford my rates (though they are outrageously low when compared to other designers). It’s really hard, but I’ve been learning as I go along. Thanks so much for this post – it was helpful. And at the very least you’ve inspired me to create a pricing list that I can send out as an email.

    ALSO, I would really like to hear more about your creative process. I love how you have it laid out for your clients on your site.

  12. I having this is issue at the moment. I’m just starting out in the freelance world and I have no idea what i’m doing. I have a client interested in working with me, but i have no idea what to charge them, or how to discuss everything. I think i’m going to have to make a break down of everything, like you did. It sounds very helpful.
    I’m so happy I found out about your blog through StuckWithPins.

  13. Great post, I love this blog series! Thanks for passing on your knowledge. I so am afraid of quoting someone too high for a job and not getting the job because of it. You are very right about the pricing sheet. If a client knows exactly what you will be doing and for what price, they’ll feel more comfortable about hiring you.
    btw, I have a suggestion for a freelance post: How do you handle picky and/or opinionated clients? How do you maintain being the art director and not have the client “take-over”?

  14. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for this, it’s so helpful! Like almost everyone else commenting I’m just starting out freelance and it can be so daunting having to tell potential clients how much everything costs. I’m always scared that if they think it’s too high then they’ll decide against hiring me

    • dee says:

      Kirsten i have the same fear! people can be so cheap and have no idea how much things cost. time is money!

  15. Love this. Pricing sheets have been on my back burner to-do list for so long. I need to bump that baby to the top!

  16. Ashley says:

    Great post! This is sure to help a lot of young designers. People will always try to get a deal and once you stand behind your rates, most who respect quality work will come back. Countless times I have had clients try to talk me down and say well “so and so” is only charging this amount. I politely reassure my expertise match my pricing and if they would like to go with the more affordable option they should. Nine times out of ten they call back and say they have chosen to move forward us. Be confident designers!

  17. M&K says:

    Love this post. We are both designers and struggle with this all the time, especially with designing for friends. Thanks for the insight. Your blog is lovely! Will be stopping by again. Thanks for sharing! Xo, M&K at brewedtogether.com

  18. Jade Sheldon says:

    If you want people to take you seriously, you have to show how serious you are!! Bravo…

  19. Chantel says:

    I love your series on freelancing, it is so helpful!
    Would you be willing to share your pricing pdf? Not with the prices or anything but more to know how in depth you go on this sheet. I wondering about something generic like this…do you include things like how many revisions are included, timeline, etc.?
    Thanks for all your great advice!

  20. […] a freelancer, it’s important to know your worth. Having pre-made documents like pricing and process sheets can help communicate […]

  21. Latrina says:

    I think all designers + artists undercut themselves at first — I suppose it’s the thought of “Well, I’m new to this… despite how much knowledge + experience I have, I should probably not charge much.” or the “I’m not getting any clients! Maybe I should lower my price.” — I’m victim to both of those. But I have definitely learned my lesson — it’s importance to put value on yourself, and your price is one way to do that. I completely agree with you though, on the price sheet. I created an entire new price sheet when shooting my wedding and it was such a success. Plus, I felt more professional and this gave me more confidence as an artist.

    I’m currently re-working my portfolio + branding and I can’t tell you how much fun it has been. You always give such inspiration, too! I adore your blog.

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  23. KAIT says:

    I love this column! I have another question for you – where/how do you store your photos? From personal photos to stock photos, how and where do you organize these? Any suggestions for backing up that data? Any help is much appreciated!

  24. tasha says:

    I think in general women business owners tend do devalue their own work and charge far less than others. i get told my merchandise is too high or my consulting is too much but then I think no its not it needs to be higher. When you run a business it needs to be professional and you need to make a profit.

    People will undercut an small business before they say a big chain is too high. Gotta learn to stand your ground.

    I know start July 1st I am charging more and now making customers pay for shipping. It is hurting my bottom line.

  25. Saba says:

    Could you possibly show an example? (Not necessarily with your prices included, that’s a privacy invasion!)

  26. J says:

    Would love to see a sample of a pricing sheet. I don’t know where to begin in terms of design/format.

  27. […] 6. Imbreannarose.com – The beautifully designed blog of freelance graphic and web designer Breanna Rose is well worth checking out. She offers great insights into the world of freelancing, shares her sources of inspiration, and even offers free desktop wallpapers for readers to download. Start with: Be free, lance: know your worth […]

  28. […] Yes and Yes linked to this, so now I will, too. A new wonderful design blog talks freelancing by Breanna Rose. […]

  29. […] 6. Imbreannarose.com – The beautifully designed blog of freelance graphic and web designer Breanna Rose is well worth checking out. She offers great insights into the world of freelancing, shares her sources of inspiration, and even offers free desktop wallpapers for readers to download. Start with: Be free, lance: know your worth […]

  30. Becky! says:

    I actually JUST designed a PFD with prices & briefly designed the process earlier this week. I already feel freedom from the dreaded money talk. It just says the prices. Feel less personal and more like, “This is just what it is.” I love the idea of explaining the process. Thanks or the tips!

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