One of the biggest challenges most freelancers face when starting out is how much to charge. Or more accurately, determining what your knowledge and skills are worth. We're afraid if we charge too much, we won't be able to find any work at all. Or if we charge too little, we won't be able to make ends meet.
With so many options available -- from setting an hourly rate, a fixed price, a one-time charge or a combination of all three -- it can be difficult and overwhelming. So how do you determine what you're worth as a freelancer?
The answer is all about value! You have to make yourself, your products and your skills extremely valuable. Because the more valuable you are, the more money clients will be willing to pay you.
But creating value isn't always easy, and like other things in life, it takes time and dedication to do it properly. Here are three ways to make your time and skills more valuable:
1. Complete a certification program or take a class
The main ingredients to making yourself more valuable are your skills, experience and reputation. One of the best things I did to add value to my business (and bottom line) was completing a certification program. Now when people look at my resume or portfolio, they see the effort I made to get certified. This not only shows my dedication, but that I believe the work I do is good enough to invest in.
If you're looking to start a social media business, consider taking the HootSuite University course or buying an instructional ebook from a successful social media expert. The same principle applies for other areas too, like finance, education and technology-related fields.
Professional certifications don't cost a lot of money, but they'll help you stand out in a seemingly endless pool of freelancers.
2. Go above and beyond your client's expectations
Going the extra mile for your client is simple and only takes a little common sense. Things like doing small work for free, submitting your project on time and doing work without being asked will go a long way towards impressing your client.
Each time you go above and beyond for them, you become more valuable in their eyes. This makes them feel like you're on their side, like you want them and their business to succeed. They'll view you as a team player instead of just someone working for a paycheck.
3. Treat your business like a business
A common mistake many self-employed people make is not acting professionally and failing to think like a business owner. Smart business owners are conscious of displaying solid customer service skills, reliable in terms of staying in contact with their clients and, most importantly, trustworthy.
When you're a freelancer, you're the face of your business and your brand. Always be aware of how your brand is represented and the reputation you're building for your business. Having a satisfied client recommend you to other potential clients is worth more than pitching your own work. That's the goal of any freelancer: to become a valuable resource clients will continue to use and recommend to their friends, family and coworkers.
The more valuable you become, the more clients will be willing to pay for your services. And as long as you continue to produce valuable, high-quality work, you'll have no problem justifying the rates you set for your business. After all, your big goal is likely to get paid what you're worth, which helps you and your business grow.
What's one way you've increased your worth as a freelancer?
Carrie Smith is the writer behind the Careful Cents blog, where she helps people get out of debt, find a career they love and make cents of life. You can connect with her on Twitter. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work -- this isn't your parents' career-advice blog. Be Brazen.