Sky's the limit

Setting Your Fees…Among Other Things

Holy moly! Setting your fees is hard! I have been spending a long time (months) agonizing over how to set my fees. I have been reading articles, books & blogs to try to figure out where to start. Most of my work has come from Elance & Upwork so setting my fees was something of a joke to be honest. Competing against people who are willing to do the same job for $3.00 makes the whole thing laughable. So here I find myself trying to come up with services I really want to focus on and how much I want to get paid to do them almost a year to the day after hanging up my freelancing shingle. How I managed to get this far without putting this together is somewhat embarrassing, but there it is. I did finally manage to have a semblance of a fee schedule put together this morning, the result of cramming in even more research yesterday and reviewing my past projects.

After completing all of my research, worry, and angst, I came to a wonderful conclusion. They aren’t set in stone. I can change my mind and give myself a raise or give someone a hand up. I had forgotten that was one of the beautiful and simple things about working for me. It is also something that can cause you to undervalue your abilities and talk you out of your worth as a writer, photographer or whatever the case may be. Stand fast and be strong in the face of the negative currents swirling round you. You are worthwhile, your time is worthwhile and your skills are worthwhile. Say that every morning and you should be good. Maybe not, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

Now back to the fee business. I recently had this conversation with a client about what their fees needed to be. To my surprise, the answers tumbled out of my mouth. Must be the accounting thing showing through. Of course, when it came time for me to set my fees, I didn’t know where to start. Go figure. I digress though. Here is my take on what the minimum considerations should be when looking at bidding projects. Fee schedules help set a guideline but quoting and bidding projects is a bit of an art. You should know three basic things to be able to set livable project fees. Notice I say livable.

  1. How much are your living expenses?
  2. How much will you need to pay other contractors?
  3. What are your tax liabilities and other fees?

You should know these three figures before you begin to quote projects. It doesn’t do any good to land a great project with a great client for $3000 when you need $4000 just to break even. Establishing your costs ahead of time will help control underbidding projects. Now from here you can determine how much you want to make and remember you are worthwhile.

In this line of work, it is fun to think that the sky is the limit. I may just be starting out, but I have no problem stretching as far as I can to touch the clouds. The best part is I can still take the kids to the park, watch my youngest develop her personality, and help the big kids with their homework.