Pricing Your Freelance Work: How Much To Charge? | Lindsay Marsh | Skillshare

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Pricing Your Freelance Work: How Much To Charge?

teacher avatar Lindsay Marsh, Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Preview


    • 2.

      Sizing Up Your Skill Level & Experience


    • 3.

      Sizing Up Your Client


    • 4.

      Factoring In Project Exposure


    • 5.

      Hourly or Fixed Rate?


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About This Class

Have you ever wondered where to even begin to start pricing a freelance project. Have you ever submitted a quote to a client and wondered if you charged too much? Or charged to little and been nervous about the outcome?

Join me for a quick enjoyable class that gives you the basic framework to price any freelance project.

There are several factors at play that determine that right price for a project. We will discover your skill and experience level, size up your potential client and talk about how your project exposure factors into your pricing.

We will do practice quotes along the way to help you see how these factors apply to your pricing.

After this class, you will feel very confident in pricing your freelance projects and feel like you have a system or framework in place to determine a price that is right for you and acceptable by the client.

So, let’s learn about how to price yourself as a freelancer!

Meet Your Teacher

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Lindsay Marsh

Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!


I have had many self-made titles over the years: Brand Manager, Digital Architect, Interactive Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Developer and Social Media Expert, to name a few. My name is Lindsay Marsh and I have been creating brand experiences for my clients for over 12 years. I have worked on a wide variety of projects both digital and print. During those 12 years, I have been a full-time freelancer who made many mistakes along the way, but also realized that there is nothing in the world like being your own boss.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to take classes at some of the top design schools in the world, Parsons at The New School, The Pratt Institute and NYU. I am currently transitioning to coaching and teaching.

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1. Class Preview: Have you ever wondered where to begin to start pricing a freelance project? Have you ever submitted a quote toe a Klein and wonder to be charged too much? Are you charge too little and even nervous about the outcome? Join me for a quick, enjoyable class that gives you the basic framework to price any freelance project. There are several factors at play that determine the right price for a project. We will discover your skill and experience level size up your potential client and talk about how project exposure factors into your pricing throughout the class will do several practice quotes along the way to help you see how these factors apply to your pricing. After this class, you'll feel very confident and pricing your freelance projects and feel like you have a system or framework in place determined a price that is right for you and acceptable by the client. So let's learn how to price yourself as a freelancer 2. Sizing Up Your Skill Level & Experience : one of the most daunting. An overwhelming task designer freelancer needs to overcome its pricing projects with confidence. One comprise projects, but how comfortable are you with your decisions? Are you under charging? Could have gotten away with charging war. Are they going to take me serious with my low pricing? Are they gonna be scared away because I price too high? These are all very realistic thoughts that go into one's head when they try to price projects. To know how much you can charge is a freelancer. There's a couple of things we need to figure out 1st 1st thing we need to figure out where you are with your skill level, experience way. All have different skill levels. Experience levels. We're going to have to be able to charge higher or lower prices, depending on that skill of. If you're a beginning rapid designer, for example, you're not gonna be able to get away with charging more than $2000 for a local design. You may have a stellar portfolio personal projects, but without that RIA World client projects to prove how you apply those local designs and work with real world clients, it's going to be a struggle to get that higher pricing right off the gate, although it's never impossible. However, if you've been doing this for five plus years, you'll be able to slowly increase your prices throughout time as you had more experience and increase your skill level once again. If you've been doing this for more than a decade and even have management experience working with other creative designers or freelancers, you'll be able to have more pricing power to the upside. So how do I know where I fall with my skill level? Just like I signed my clients with a different tier level, I assigned my own personal skill and experience level into three different categories. The first category level would be a total beginner. This is my first official project with the client. I'm gonna need to price much lower level than others simply because this is my first project. I'm going to want to shoot at the lower level of scale. For example, of this was doing a social media graphic just one simple graphic. Instead of charging $100 for that graphic, I would charge maybe somewhere around 30 to $40 in this first level beginner situation. What the client is getting is a great deal. But what you're getting is a real world project and social proof they can use to gain future clients that value U worth. You can also ask for referrals that proves client experience. Think of this is part of your payment for your services and this first level payment as more than just monetary opportunity to prove yourself for your 1st 2 projects is invaluable . Your next level is gonna be the intermediate level. You definitely have some paid client work under your belt, and you may have done some work on a wide variety of projects. You maybe even have 2 to 5 years of experience. You've worked with other freelancers to do larger projects at times, so you have some team experience. This is where you start to have a little more power with pricing. You have proven work experience of this intermediate level pricing usually price close to industry average for that particular work project. I no longer under charge or underprice i price. What is reasonable industry average now met the point why could start to explore higher pricing and maybe edge that hourly price or fixed project price higher and higher with each new client contract on once again. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about client to your assignments and how that will factor into your pricing as well. How do I find the industry hourly rate? First, ask around in any groups who involved with locally or in Facebook or other social media platforms of similar careers. Also, you could check out up work dot com and type in your experience level, entitled to find a general average. Next level is the advanced level, so you probably have five plus years of experience. We have a proven track record of success, working with larger clients, regional clients and perhaps you've even have some agency work. Maybe you've worked alongside national level projects that have gotten a large amount of exposure. The difference between an intermediate skill level freelancer and an advanced freelancer is the amount of exposure your client or personal work has gone. So instead of getting 1000 impressions with your project for your client, your work has been seeing shown digested by tens of thousands of not millions of people, views, impressions likes they're all the same. You should also be paid on the level of your prior exposures have been projects there used by prior clients that have gone on to be shown to millions of people. You deserve a much higher payout in someone who's only had a project exposed to a couple 100 people. We'll talk more about exposure of your projects and quoting later in the glass. So understanding where you fall gives you a chance to know what your pricing power is. The lower your skill level will lower your pricing power. There are some ways you can overcome this by having an amazing portfolio, even if for at the beginning stages, and you don't have your first client are. Maybe you've only done a couple of paid client projects. This is where portfolio can help you charge just a little bit more out of your level. That means working on projects just for your personal portfolio to fill that pull it portfolio with rich, engaging projects to make up the lack of paid client work. So let's do a few examples. It's great to talk about pricing theory, but to be able to talk about pricing and nominal terms is so important. So here's pricing power at work in terms of your skill and experience level. Let's am at the beginner level. I've had to paid clients before, but I've only been at this for six months. I'm a graphic designer and I've done a couple of logo and branding projects. The amount of my exposure of work has been the minimal, but has mostly been at the local population. In my town, a new client approaches me about a project. They've seen my work locally, and they've enjoyed style and want to approach me about doing a branding project for their company. After talking to the client, figuring out that'll probably take me around 15 to 20 hours to do the local design, maybe three revision rounds, I would say we need to make about $35 an hour. Let's say I have previously made 25 to $30 an hour, but I'm just getting started, and that's okay. So I find out that 20 hours times $35 an hour equals $700 so that would be beginner level pricing. But if I was at the next level, maybe have 2 to 3 years of experience, and I've been doing this for a little longer. Maybe my work has gotten a little bit more exposure. Maybe on the state level or regional level. I'll probably want a price closer to $60 an hour, so that same project would be $60 an hour times $20 which would equal $1200. You could see the difference in pricing power between your experience and skill level and how that affects your pricing now for the advanced level. Probably charge somewhere between $80 an hour. If I was charging hourly, we'll be talking about the differences between hourly and fixed project pricing a little bit later in the class. But if I'm going to stay consistent and stay on my hourly rate, pricing $80 an hour times 20 hours is $1600 so you can see the difference between the skill level and how a beginner level freelancer and their industry peers make less than half of someone who would be considered an expert does. This is the value of experience, and you need to know that when pricing your projects that this is valuable to clients and essential to how you price. Of course, there's more than just your skill level involved. There's also the client size and client budget figure out. We're going to talk about a signing client, their own levels to be able to have more information to help us find perfect pricing, so stay tuned. 3. Sizing Up Your Client: the higher and more advanced her skill level, the more power you have with pushing for higher pricing. But now we have another element we need to seriously take a look at. That's your ability for your client toe. Afford your pricing? What good is a quote for a project if they may not afford or even worse, you're under charging so much that they do not take you seriously. I talked about this a little bit in the previous pricing for freelancers class, but I'm going to go into a little bit more detail. I sign clients into three main tears. The first year is going to be your nonprofits, your small local companies or startups. This may be a small cleaning company, a small coffee house with one or two locations or a local newspaper. You're not going to have us much pricing power with these clients simply because they don't have the budget to afford expensive freelancer. They're also not looking to spend a lot of money here and there, Okay, with the quality of the project not being at agency level quality as long as it's done well and done on time. A tear to client is going to be a bit larger. Perhaps they have around 10 200 employees, maybe even up to 200 employees. They have a couple 1000 likes on their social media page, and he may know them already from some marketing they do regionally. They're looking to grow, and they've also looking to invest more money. So they have a little bit of a larger budget toe work with. These guys also have a little bit more flexibility with pricing, and they may have been have a marketing person that contacted you instead of a founder or CEO that would indicate a larger marketing budget. I start to get a little bit more aggressive with my pricing When it comes to tear to clients. I'm also looking at my exposure, which will get into the next lesson. It could be that a social media graphic I'm designing for them may receive over 2000 likes and 50 shares. They may even do a paid Facebook campaign, and my work is out there getting even more exposure. Remember when we mentioned how higher exposure of the project equals higher pricing on my part? Tier three clients are dream clients, sometimes they're big ad agencies. Sometimes they're smaller ad agencies that landed a large client, and they need your help. They may have 100 plus employees work they've done that you're recording for May end up being in national magazines or large ad campaigns. A local design that you do may end up being printed on over 10,000 different letterheads. At some point, they may send out animal ports to 5000 plus donors. They may even be a publicly traded company. They may even have user impressions on content they post and the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions. I have incredibly high flexibility when pricing for these clients, of course, they still need to afford me. And there's no point in pricing so sky high that they simply move on to the next person because they're more on point with budget. So even though this is the highest I would price it's still not unreasonable. Remember when pricing for these size clients you're most likely not the only one there seeking a quote from Sometimes it's required by the company policy to gather at least three quotes on any given contract. Now that we're able to size up our client into one of these three tiers 12 or three. This is where does start to get a little complicated. We're going to explore one other aspect of pricing, which is project exposure, and then we'll have our three main ingredients to start formulating are perfect. Quote. Let's do some examples. Let's say I'm an intermediate level graphic designer. I have about four years of experience, and I'm starting to feel comfortable doing a wide variety of different design projects and have a little pricing power based on an intermediate level experience. I have a new potential client that approached me for a project quote there, a local nonprofit and they just don't have a large budget. I care a lot about their costs. I'm going to be a little flexible with my pricing. Plus, they have a lot of donors that need design work. And if I do a great job this mainly to more Tier two, or even to your three clients, they're going to need some event design work, including posters, invites name tags and advertising design for the event. Since there a tier one and even though I'm an intermediate level designer. I'm going to still need to be careful with my pricing and not price too high. I've already established my hourly pricing according to my skill level and basis pricing line, based on research I've done with other designers and from up work dot com and other freelancing websites. I fall right about here in this area for this example. At least now I need to look at the client, tear their tear ones. That means I need to possibly price lower on my experience level range scale. If I did not size up the client and assign them to a tear category, I would not really nowhere on that range of price. So gauging your skill and experience level with the client tear helps to slowly narrow it down to a proper in reasonable price on the scale. Same goes for fixed project quotes as opposes hourly quotes for fixed project quotes. I would come up with a scale for each type of project to create quotes for each one of my projects. If there's multiple projects involved that would eventually end up being line items in my final quote because of my client's tier one status. I'm setting up a $45 hourly pricing range. It does not deviate at drastic bounce from my desired average, but just enough to make me affordable to this client. Let's do one more example. Ah, client approaches me about creating an ad campaign. This ad campaign will contain four full page magazine ads and a paid INSTAGRAM. And Facebook at that campaign will have the same theme throughout which will I will also assist in creating the look and feel on the design of the graphics. How do I quote such a project? First of all, what is my experience level? Let's say I fall right about here in this experience level two years as a freelancer, and I've done 10 or so separate client projects paid. There are three main skill or experience levels involved here, but fortunately it exists on the scale. I'd fall right about here with what I described so far. So how do I come up with hourly or fixed project costs that exist on this experience scale ? I have sourced them from other freelancers with different experience levels, and I've also done some research to figure out the value range of a graphic designer. In my country, I have found top hourly prices, and I've also source, um, lower prices, too. But I also have designed these to be in a range I feel most comfortable with personally. So in this case, anything under $20 an hour does not even exist because I do not feel comfortable charging less than this. Also, anything over $80 is not included because I do not feel comfortable charging that at this time. This could be a very personal thing for you. I also went over toe up work dot com defined graphic designers with the skill levels to find out what they were charging. I also know what I've charged clients in the past two years that help me find out the sweet spot for these rates. What is great about the scale, as I can use it over and over. Once I developed my scale, I'm happy with. I can also tweak it later if I want to raise my lowest price to $30 per hour, for example. Lastly, I can switch this to a fixed project based scale instead of just a hourly one. If I'm interested in a fixed project quote. I simply do the same research, but with fix project costs instead back to our example. Now I know where I fall in the scale. Let's size up the client. The client is a large region mall there, well known in the area, and they people drive large distances to go to this small. They've also included many high end stores, and their current marketing is done by a local ad agency. So based on my client tier system, which years could be created custom to you? I put them solidly in Tier two. Let's look at the our clients to your level. But let's factor in our skill in experience level because this is a client that may have a decent marketing budget. I can stretch my pricing power a little bit and quote on the higher end of my range. Maybe right about here. This is not an exact science, but a guide for you to use to find a range that's most reasonable for you and your client. We now have two factors that we could use to help us narrow down our pricing. There's another factor that we can use to help solidify our pricing, and that's exposure the project lab, and we'll do that in the next list 4. Factoring In Project Exposure: We also need to see how much exposure we're going to have with our work. The higher exposure, impressions and views we have on the project will put in for the more we need to price that project tire. I like to have this on the scale as well. This one is complex, as a video editor will put this project with a scale based on views, perhaps possibly YouTube views based on similar client videos. Maybe your social media marketer and you put this on a scale of shares on Instagram or Instagram likes. Once again, we would create the skill based on previous projects the clients have had are produced or another competitor has put out or even basis on similar projects you have done that are similar in scope and exposure. The higher on the scale of exposure, the more pricing power you're most likely to have. For example, I am editing a video to promote a new product for a current client. They have not done any video so far to promote it, so this will be the only one, so I'm not sure about the amount of exposure the video will have. I explore more with the client about where this video will be shown, and they're going to invest $5000 to promote this video via paid instagram and YouTube promotions. Because of this, I would rate my potential exposer of the project to be on the high side once again. And none of this is an exact science, but a guide to help you with pricing. Now we have 1/3 layer to help us find Tune Our pricing, Let's say for this one we're quoting are project based on a fixed rate to create this video , as opposed to trying to figure out how many hours it will take me. Because for an editing project, especially video, that may prove difficult based on the exposure of the project, based on what I've found, other video have cost companies to edit with the similar length I have come up with this basic pricing skill for myself and my experience. Lastly, the client tear is a tier two. I know they're spending some ad money on this, so they're flexible with budget based on the assumption and willingness for them to invest money into this project. A tear to client, my intermediate level experience based on the scale I created from prior projects and research on what others air charging and lastly, the exposure level of the project. I'm going to come up with this fixed cost for the project. All three scales helped me feel more confident about pricing based on research. I feel like my quote is reasonable industry standard and a strong contender to be accepted by the client. Hopefully, these lessons give you some insight on how to formulate a price or quote. You do not have to feel like you're quoting client at random. There's a process you can go through and help guide you to the right price based on research. Hopefully, the next time you quote a client project, you could send that quote with confidence and no longer feel nervous about your pricing decisions. 5. Hourly or Fixed Rate?: so an hourly rate or a fixed flat project rate. It's a great question. I have a lesson from a class last year that touches on the subject, and I wanted to include it here in this class because I think it's a natural next question to ask. Now that we have that system in place to help us hone in our rates, we need to figure out Do we need to do our scale based on hourly rates or fix flat project rates? Some projects you can actually make more hourly. Others by charging per project the safest way to charges our you're guaranteed that every hour you put into the project, you will get a predictable amount of money in return. Although this is the safest bet, charging per project for a flat rate can be more lucrative and profitable. I usually recommend new freelancers to start off with that predictable hourly rate. It makes it easy to two predictor cash flow for more experienced freelancers or people who are interesting experts. I highly recommend a per project quote I showed you in the last video. How much I charge for hourly designed services has taken me a couple of years to get comfortable quoting for a per project rate. The danger of a per project rate is that the scope of the project starts to change. That means the original quoted project. For example, a Web design project starts to turn into something more complicated than originally planned , or you run into problems that need more time to fix. The only way I quote a flat rate project is by making sure I sign a contract with my client . That states. If the project exceeds the overall original scope of the project, the contract and the rate may increase. The extra work outside of the original project or quote is now quoted as an hourly rate until the project is completed. I love to charge per project for projects I do. Often I know how much time it takes into a local design for a tear to client. I will charge what I think is industry average for a local design based on my experience, which is 10 plus years, and I will try to complete that project and this little time as possible, but also keeping my quality up in some instances, if I charge for example, $500 for a basic local design for Tier two clients. My goal would be to complete the project in about eight hours or less. So $500 divided by eight hours, is around $62 an hour, a much better hourly rate than if I were to charge my Tier two hourly rate. I can do this because I'm comfortable guessing how much time it will take me to complete the project. If I was not comfortable knowing that or if I was new to freelance than that hourly rate would be quoted, I'm gonna give you another example of a per project rate where it can work in a negative way. So let's say I have a nonprofit Tier one client. They don't have a huge budget, so I quote them only $1000 from the Web design project will. Sometimes Web design projects can easily take 40 plus hours. If I was gonna take 40 hours and, um, figure out how much my hourly rate would be for $1000 it would only be $25 an hour that I would make. And if the project went be beyond the scope which happens a lot of Web design project. I could spend 50 or 60 hours. My hourly rate could drop to $15 an hour, and they may not have any additional budget money passed $1000 to give me. So it really depends on the client as well. When it you've got to figure out if you wanted to hourly quote or per project personally for my business, I use a free invoicing website called Zip books dot com. They offer free and voicing, but they also have an ability to create a quote for an estimate. It looks just like an invoice, but it's an estimate. This provides a nice professional envoys or quote that you consent to a client and look top notch. I like to break down my pricing as much as possible to really marked make sure and clear and transparent to the future client. I think that goes a long way into winning trust