How much should I charge?

Last Updated on 29 October 2021

coins and note

One of the most stressful things for a new freelancer is talking about money. We’re not culturally set up to do this in the UK.

But there are ways to approach this knotty topic which will reduce stress and help you come across as professional.

Do your research

The best technique is to talk to people who are already doing what you want to do, and ask them what the normal rates are for that job role.

This will vary from role to role and from area to area, but it’s the most reliable indicator.

No such thing as a set rate

There’s always a range of rates, not just a single rate. The more people you talk to, the easier it is to know the bottom and top end of the rate scale, and to put yourself somewhere on that scale.

Professional support

The other source of information is your union, if you are a member.

BECTU, the production union, has rate cards for many job roles. These can be a good starting point when talking to potential clients/employers.

Don’t apologise for being paid

Whatever you do don’t undersell yourself. Remember that the cheapest person does not get all the work.

Don’t be afraid of quoting a (reasonable) rate, possibly a smidge higher than you think you’re worth.

Give a single figure: I normally say “My normal rate for this would be…”  

If they can’t afford what you quote, they will simply tell you they don’t have that in the budget. So just calmly ask them what they do have in their budget. 

You’re a professional. Don’t work for nothing!

Not a good idea

You should be paid what people are normally paid. Simple as that.

Charging less than you should will just make you look cheap and unprofessional. It looks naive and can lead to exploitation.

On top of that you’d undercut your mates, which won’t make you popular.

I can only think of three reasons why you’d work for less than the going rate:

  • Gaining new skills (but are you really?)
  • Vastly increasing your networking contacts (but are you really?)
  • Because you’re feeling charitable (fine – but can you afford it?)

And you have to be really honest with yourself. Are these reasons really true?

The good news is that it gets easier and easier to discuss rates and will soon become part of your normal professional skillset.

My thanks to one of the trainees I met recently who reminded me of ScreenSkills’s page on this topic:

I’ve been around for long enough that’ve just I found this old blog post from a few years. Not all the links in it are about freelancing:

NB: David Thomas Media Ltd is not responsible for the content of other sites nor any financial advice provided by them.

Posted on 18 May 2021

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