Freelancing. It’s a great way to way to make money on the side and, in some cases, test out or make a name for yourself in a precarious career before you leave another role. But making money from a side-hustle can be tough, especially when you’re starting out.
The UK has 2 million freelancers and counting – as studies show, there’s a direct correlation between the recession and the number of self-employed people in the UK. But how do you negotiate rates and find your perfect freelance role? We spoke to a couple of freelancers below for tips on how to make it work.
List your reasons
Lucy Skoulding, a freelance journalist told us that she has asked for an increase in pay for her writing, only after making it clear why she deserves it. “When I asked for more money for the first time I’ll admit I was nervous but as soon as I had done it I realised there was nothing to worry about” she said. “I stated that I would like more money and listed a few reasons why I feel I should such as reliability in always meeting the deadline and the fact I had hugely built on my experience since joining. In my case this was because I’d done a journalism qualification but you could state this just because you had another year of experience behind you, for example.”
Know the law (and how to invoice)
As a freelancer in the UK, you’re entitled to a £40 late payment fee if your employer doesn’t pay you within your agreed time. So if you say at the bottom of your invoice ‘to be paid within 30 days’ and your employer doesn’t match that, you can, under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, ask for more money. Drop that in an email to a bad employer, and magically watch the money appear in your account.
Studies show women are less likely to ask for more money and they also suffer more from the dreaded imposter syndrome, along with people of colour and graduates. Feeling nervous, or undeserving of asking for more money is actually, totally normal. But you shouldn’t be afraid to try and negotiate. Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Then, make your case for more money, using your previous work to help you make a case, or referring to standard industry practices. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Have a range of figures in mind
The Muse reports that a survey by Salary.com revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries and 18% never do. If you’re worried about asking for more money for your freelance work, a good way to try start negotiating is to suggest a range of figures. For example, instead of simply asking for £250 when you’ve been offered £75, try and ask for a number in-between the two, whilst having a lower number in mind that you’re willing to accept. Zahrah, a freelance copywriter and Go Think Big employee agrees that this is a good idea.
“What I like to do is ask them to meet me half-way” she said. “I’ll say ‘to make this worth my time, I’d suggest the rate of… or ‘my rate is usually xxx, can we meet halfway?’ That helps me a bit. And Lucy adds: “a good tip is to go in with a specific figure in mind because if you give a range the business will choose the lowest point of that range.”
Know your audience
Your freelance rates can change depending on your clients, you know. It’s totally fine to charge a charity or educational institution one thing, and a big corporate client another. Know that different employers will have different expectations and varying budgets so it’s fine to change your rates when needed.
Be OK with walking away
Lots of people work for exposure instead of money when starting out, and if you can afford to do that, or you think the particular job will be worth it, that’s totally fine. But remember that you shouldn’t have to work for free. Consider your numbers and what’s worth it for you, and come up with what The Muse terms a ‘walk away point‘ if you don’t get what you want. This is in their words: “a final offer that’s so low that you have to turn it down. This could be based on financial need, market value, or simply what you need to feel good about the salary you’re bringing home.”
As Lucy added, “freelancers can often be made to feel honoured just to be doing what they are doing…in reality everything you do for a business is worth something so if you ever have to take on more responsibility you should always ask for more money to do this. In the coldest way, it’s like a transaction – if you always bought onions from a supermarket then one day bought tomatoes too, the shop wouldn’t give them to you for free. So too, if you agree to give something extra to a business, they should pay you for it.”
In short, know your value and remember that there’s no shame in saying ‘no’ if it doesn’t suit you.