Freelance Rates Guide: Pricing Services for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What are freelance rates?
  2. How to calculate an hourly rate
  3. How to set a project rate
  4. How to negotiate rates with clients
  5. Why it's important to review your rates regularly
  6. How to adjust rates over time
  7. Tips for pricing services as a beginning freelancer

Stepping into the freelance world can be both exciting and daunting, especially when it comes to setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner. You might be asking, "How much should I charge for my services?" or "What is a fair freelance rate?" Don't worry—we're here to help you navigate these choppy waters with ease. So, let's dive right in!

What are freelance rates?

Freelance rates are what you, as a freelancer, charge for your services. It's the price tag you put on your skills and expertise. Sounds simple, right? But there's more to it than picking a number out of thin air.

Setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner involves understanding both your value and the market value of your services. It's a delicate balance between not underselling yourself and ensuring your rates are competitive enough to attract clients.

Freelance rates can be calculated in a few different ways:

  • Hourly Rate: This is the amount you charge for each hour of work. It's a common method, especially for beginners, because it's simple and straightforward. You calculate how long a project will take and multiply that by your hourly rate.
  • Project Rate: This is a flat fee for an entire project, regardless of how many hours it takes. This method requires a good understanding of the scope of work, as you'll need to estimate the time and effort involved.
  • Retainer Rate: This is a regular payment for ongoing work. It provides a steady income but requires a long-term commitment from both you and the client.

Remember, setting realistic freelance rates isn't just about making money—it's about valuing your time, skills, and the quality of your work. It's okay to start at a lower rate as you're building experience, but don't sell yourself short. You're worth every penny!

How to calculate an hourly rate

When setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner, starting with an hourly rate can be a helpful first step. To calculate an hourly rate, you'll want to consider a few key factors:

  • Cost of Living: This includes your rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and any other expenses you need to cover. Don't forget to factor in taxes!
  • Business Expenses: These are costs directly related to your freelance work. Think software subscriptions, marketing costs, and any necessary office supplies. If you're a graphic designer, for example, you might need to consider the cost of design software and a drawing tablet.
  • Desired Profit: After all, you're in this to make a profit. Consider what you'd like your annual income to be.
  • Time: How many hours do you plan to work each week? Remember to account for non-billable hours, like marketing, invoicing, and administrative tasks.

Once you've added up your costs and desired profit, divide by the number of hours you plan to work in a year. Voila! You have your hourly rate. Keep in mind, this is a starting point. It's important to adjust your rates as you gain experience and your business grows.

Calculating your hourly rate is an important step in setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner. It's a clear, straightforward way to ensure you're valuing your time and expertise appropriately.

How to set a project rate

Setting a project rate instead of an hourly rate can give you and your client a sense of security. You both know upfront what the total cost will be. So, how do you go about setting a project rate when you're just starting your freelance journey?

  • Estimate the Time: Based on your hourly rate, estimate how long the project will take. Be sure to factor in time for revisions and client feedback. It can be helpful to keep track of how long similar projects have taken you in the past. Remember, it's better to overestimate than underestimate.
  • Consider the Value: Some projects may offer more value to a client than others. For instance, a logo design that will be used across a company's entire brand might be worth more to a client than a single blog post. Consider the value your work is bringing and price accordingly.
  • Research the Market: What are other freelancers in your field charging for similar work? Market rates can help you gauge if you're in the right ballpark. However, don't undervalue your work just to underbid the competition!

Setting a project rate can help you avoid the trap of undercharging for your time. Especially when you're setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner, knowing the full scope of the project can help you price your services more accurately. Plus, clients will appreciate knowing the cost upfront—no surprise invoices!

Keep in mind that setting project rates is a bit of an art form. It may take some practice to get it right. But don't be discouraged. Every project is a new chance to hone your pricing skills.

How to negotiate rates with clients

There's an art to negotiation, especially when it comes to setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner. While it might seem intimidating, remember: You're not just selling a service; you're selling your skills, time, and creativity. Here's how you can approach this task with confidence:

  • Know Your Worth: First things first, understand the value of your work. If you've set your rates after thorough research and calculation, don't let a client talk you down too easily. Remember, the quality of your work is worth the price tag!
  • Be Prepared to Explain: Clients might question why your rates are what they are. Be ready to explain how you arrived at your numbers, detailing the time, effort, and expertise that goes into your work.
  • Offer Options: If a client can't meet your rate, consider offering different options. Perhaps a smaller package or fewer revisions could bring the price down without you underselling your work.

Don't be afraid to stand your ground. Negotiating doesn't mean you have to compromise on your worth. It's about finding a mutual agreement that values both your and the client's needs. And remember, not every client will be the right fit. If a client doesn't respect your rates, it's okay to walk away. There are plenty of clients out there who will value your work and be willing to pay for it!

Lastly, always be professional and respectful in your negotiations. Remember, you're establishing a business relationship, and first impressions matter. Happy negotiating!

Why it's important to review your rates regularly

When setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner, it's easy to feel like you've climbed a mountain once you've established your initial rates. But the journey doesn't end there. Regularly reviewing your rates is an integral part of maintaining a successful freelance business, and here's why:

  • Market Changes: The market for freelance services is dynamic. Rates can fluctuate based on demand, trends, and economic factors. Regular check-ins help you stay competitive and current.
  • Skills and Experience Growth: As you continue to hone your skills and gain more experience, your value as a freelancer increases. Your rates should reflect this growth.
  • Cost of Living: As life goes on, your personal expenses may increase. Regularly updating your rates ensures that your income keeps pace with your expenses.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting your rates isn't just about making more money. It's about ensuring that your freelance business remains sustainable and profitable. It's a reflection of your growth as a professional and the value you bring to your clients. So, don't set it and forget it—make sure you're revisiting your rates at least once a year!

How to adjust rates over time

Adjusting your rates over time can seem daunting, especially when you're just starting out. But don't fret—it doesn't have to be a massive undertaking. Here's a simple process to guide you in setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner and adjusting them as time goes on:

  1. Track Your Time: Understand how much time you're spending on each project. This information is valuable in calculating your hourly rate and adjusting it over time.
  2. Evaluate Your Services: As you gain experience, you may find certain services are more in demand or require more effort. This might warrant a rate increase for these specific services.
  3. Consider Your Expenses: Remember to factor in any business expenses you incur. Whether it's software subscriptions, office space costs or marketing expenses, these should be reflected in your rates.
  4. Look at the Market: Stay updated with what's happening in your industry. If the going rate for your services is increasing, it might be time to adjust your rates accordingly.
  5. Communicate with Your Clients: Transparency is key. If you're increasing your rates, let your clients know ahead of time and explain the reasons behind the change.

Remember, adjusting your rates is a normal part of freelancing. It's not something to be feared or avoided. Instead, see it as an opportunity to grow your business and reflect your increasing value to your clients. Now, you're well on your way to mastering the art of setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner!

Tips for pricing services as a beginning freelancer

Setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner can be a daunting task. You might be tempted to price yourself lower than you're worth in fear of scaring off potential clients. But remember, your skills and time are valuable. Here are some tips to help you price your services confidently and fairly:

  1. Research the Market: Before you set your rates, do a bit of homework. Find out what other freelancers in your field are charging. This will give you a ballpark figure to start with and ensure you're not undervaluing your services.
  2. Understand Your Worth: Take into account your skills, experience, and the quality of your work. Don't undersell yourself just because you're new to freelancing. Your rate should reflect the value you provide to your clients.
  3. Start with an Hourly Rate: As a beginner, setting an hourly rate can be easier than a project-based rate. It can provide a more accurate reflection of the time and effort you put into your work. You can later transition to a project-based rate as you gain more experience and understanding of how long projects typically take.
  4. Don't Forget Your Expenses: When setting your rate, remember to factor in any business costs. This includes things like software, equipment, marketing, and even taxes.
  5. Be Prepared to Negotiate: Not all clients will agree to your proposed rate. Be ready to negotiate, but also know your worth and be prepared to walk away if the offer is too low.

Remember, setting realistic freelance rates as a beginner is a balancing act. You want to price your services competitively, but also fairly. Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth. With careful planning and a clear understanding of your value, you're well on your way to a successful freelance career.

If you found this "Freelance Rates Guide: Pricing Services for Beginners" blog post helpful and want to learn more about setting rates and succeeding as a freelancer, don't miss Jasmine MacPhee's workshop, 'The Freelancing Fundamentals To Make You Flourish.' This workshop will provide you with additional tips and strategies to help you set your freelance rates and thrive in your creative career.