It’s been one year since I quit the security of my full time job, set out to travel Europe and had no idea what would be waiting for me when I returned. With a bit of luck and a lot of connections, I’ve been able to make freelancing a full time position but not without learning quite a few lessons (and mistakes) along the way.
Lesson #3: Know your worth.
Remember when I got my second client? They taught me A LOT. You see, this client asked me how much I charged. That first client, told me what they would pay me and since it was my first time, I didn’t argue.
Mistake #2: Negotiate your rate.
It’s a scary thing to do, especially when it’s your first client. However, you won’t be able to pay the bills on an income that’s not livable. So even if you can only come to an agreement that is $1 more than what they offered, at least you tried (and let’s be real, you probably won’t work for them long if it’s that low anyways).
So I had no idea what I charged. I panicked. And I didn’t know anyone in “this industry” that I could turn to for guidance. So I calculated what my yearly salary was in an hourly rate ($x divided by 52 weeks a year divided by 40 hours per week). I then provided a range that was slightly under that due to a couple factors:
- I was new to the whole freelancing game so I figured it put me at the bottom of the totem pole despite my extensive experience in an agency & client-based setting (THIS IS WRONG, see below).
Mistake #3: Don’t belittle yourself.
And please refer back to Lesson #3 because you are worth more than you are giving yourself credit for if you use Excuse #1.
- They were a smaller company and I was unsure of what they could and could not afford. I didn’t want to price myself out of their range so I was conservative (this is fair and I will accept that).
- I had no idea what I was doing (rely on your experience and remember Lesson #3!).
They took me at the very top of my range, *face palm.* Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t belittle yourself. Rely on your experience and keep remembering Lesson #3. Because yes, I will keep saying it until it’s engrained in your brain as I believe this is one of the most important lessons I have learned on this journey.
I think it’s important to note that freelancing was never my dream – I had always imagined myself being a powerhouse director of marketing at a large agency or Fortune 500 company. It’s an unconventional role to take on that just happened to fall into my lap. While no two stories are the same, I want to share the lessons (and mistakes) I learned along the way to inspire that person who isn’t loving their 9-5 or the adventurer that wants to travel full-time but needs some supplemental income to know that with some time, patience and hard work, freelancing can evolve into something great.