Effective Pricing for Freelancers

Art of Pricing

For a freelancer, thinking of rates and pricing maybe hard since you also have to consider the time and talent you are spending in a particular project.

Effective Pricing for Freelancers

The million dollar question for freelancers is:

How does one price one’s freelance services?

Spending time and talent on a particular project is quite tedious to price or manage. Some are conflicted with that particular issue.
Admittedly, putting a price tag on your work–whether it’s hourly or on a project basis–can rouse up a lot of doubts about one’s worth.

To anyone who closely ties their work with their sense of self, assigning a monetary value to their livelihood puts into question how much one’s blood, sweat, and tears really cost.

Sometimes though, the problem is less crisis of self-worth and more “I seriously just don’t know how to do this pricing thing”. This is especially true for beginner freelancers who are perhaps yet too sheepish to ask for a good price to their services.

This is why it’s important to know the rate of your bottom line by asking one very important question:

What’s your Minimum Acceptable Rate?

Computing your Minimum Acceptable Rate

LeavingWorkBehind’s Tom Ewer gives awesome advice on how to calculate your freelancing rates: identify your Minimum Acceptable Rate, or MAR. This is the baseline of the project rates you’re willing to work for.

The formula is:

[(Personal Overheads + Business Overheads) / Hours Worked] + Tax

Personal overheads should cover your living expenses in a month or year, like paying for your food and house. Meanwhile, business overheads should cover the amount you spend to maintain your business in a month or year (your internet connection, your electrical bill, gadgets, etc.) Divide this amount by the hours you project to work for the month or year. After you get the total, add taxes on top.

Say, you spend 50,000 pesos to pay for your rent, food, water, and groceries every month. That would be your personal overhead. For your business overhead, add an extra 5,000 pesos for your electricity and phone bills every month. That brings the overheads amount to 55,000 pesos.

Now divide that with the hours you project to work in a month. Let’s say you only plan on working 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. In one month, that’s 120 hours.

When you divide 55,000 pesos by 120 hours, that’s roughly 459 pesos.

If you peg your taxes at 12% (assuming that you’ve not registered yourself as a Barangay Microbusiness Enteprise), then your Minimum Acceptable Rate would be at 515 pesos per hour.

Is Charging Per Hour Wise? (Or, Why the Per-Project Basis May Be Better)

This should be taken on a case-by-case basis, depending on your work.

Tom advises against pricing per hour, saying it limits your earning potential, and also clouds your client’s judgment.

He says:

“Your competence and the speed at which you are able to do you work can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Don’t undercharge yourself by charging by the hour just because you happen to be good at what you do and can do it quickly and efficiently.”

Simply put, you can clock in as many hours to complete a task, but as a freelancer, you’re not being paid to warm your seat. You are being consulted for your expertise. Why should you be judged to how much time it takes to complete the project, than how awesome you can deliver it with the quickest turnaround time?
Adds Jake Jorgovan in a CareerFoundry article:

“Clients don’t care if it takes you 20 minutes or 20 hours to complete the project. Clients care that the work is done and it is done well.”

Learn More Pricing Techniques!

If you’re eager to learn more techniques on pricing yourself well, top online jobs website and premier workshops organizer Manila Workshops has organized an upcoming #TalinoTalks workshop with you in mind.
On June 18, 1 pm, join the Talino Talks workshop “The Art of Pricing for Freelancers”, with speaker Francis Guintu from the Online Filipino Freelancers community.

“We at recognize that pricing and negotiation are key to a successful freelancing career,” says Evan Tan ,’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia. “With the help of the Online Filipino Freelancers’ Francis Guintu, wishes to educate more aspiring and established Filipino freelancers on becoming top-earning professionals, whatever industry they may be in.”

Save a seat by registering here:


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    June 7, 2016 at 6:24 PM

    Very good post on pricing and if I may add, this is the minimum pricing BUT SHOULD NOT BE THE GOAL. Why? The computation was based on needs, and does not account for savings, emergency funds, future medical bills, etc. Simply, this is a good stepping stone. The goal should be to arrive at the money needed to secure the future (up to you if you want to include extra money for investments, house, others.).

  • Louisa
    June 8, 2016 at 5:05 PM

    This made me think really hard about what I charge. I have to say I think it needs adjusting… Is it alright to raise rates when you’ve been with an employer for a year? Or should you wait for them to give you additional on your pay?

  • Me-An Clemente
    June 9, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    Thank you for giving some idea on the minimum acceptable rate. Also for sharing this workshop. It looks really helpful for bloggers who treat their blog as a business. Too bad I couldn’t attend since it coincides with my prior engagement. Hope I can attend the next workshop.

  • bluedreamer27
    June 10, 2016 at 3:42 AM

    This is really interesting.. i have been a freelance writer for the past 5 years under the same employer through Upwork (formerly Odesk)… however, since I was so engaged with this client, I never came to a point to ask for a raise or some sort of bonus as an incentive for my work (they give me bonuses sometimes though)… my rate is also minimum and although i am fine with my current rate, I still think that with the longevity of my service, i know deserve more… the problem is I still don’t know how to approach my client hhihi

  • JD
    June 17, 2016 at 2:45 AM

    Interesting read. Are you going to the’s workshop? I knew freelancing but I didn’t think I’d work on it yet because you’d need better internet connection most of the time.

  • Zwitsy
    June 18, 2016 at 6:25 AM

    This is really helpful particularly for those freelancers who are struggling on how much should they really charge clients for their services. On the other hand, this also helps for newbies who don’t have ideas on where to start. Glad you come up with such post. This really helps a lot!

  • Nya
    June 19, 2016 at 7:02 PM

    This was a very useful post. I always struggle with freelance projects – even though I do not do freelance full time, as I have a full time onsite job. Once in a while, I get a freelance project, and I do require all the information in advance so I can quote on the full project (changes not included). I do both UX and Design (Graphic, Web), and I find it really difficult to quote on UX though, even having the full spec. Since it’s something that it’s ever changing. So probably in my field, I’d be looking to quote on a fixed budget in an initial stage, and then charge additionally per hour.

  • Denice
    June 24, 2016 at 10:11 PM

    Hmmm. To be honest I am not that comfortable with pricing per hour. I think an hourly rate is a vanity number. I do get where the computation is coming from but best if it takes into consideration other factors just to make it more holistic.

  • Hadar
    December 15, 2016 at 2:54 AM

    I think this article points out a good start for calculating an hourly rate for freelance work. with that being said, I also strongly advise against it and think that charge per project is much more recommended (especially if you are an efficient and fast worker who should not be paid less because of that but rather should be paid more). I addition to your personal and business expenses it is important to know your niche and your competition. The smaller the niche is – you might be able to charge more, even if similar work in a different niche might be paid less…After all, you want to earn money and not only cover your expenses 😉

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