Value Your Work and Charge Accordingly

A couple of days ago, Raul wrote a blog post titled “The economics of free or why I won’t do things for free anymore.” As a well-educated freelancer and consultant with a wealth of experience, it is only fair that Raul should charge what he is worth.

Even so, he has gladly volunteered his time to contribute back to the social media community in the form of live-blogs and other kinds of event coverage. As a result, some people are starting to assume that because he can work for free that he should work for free.

I left a comment on his blog and I thought it was worth sharing in this space as well:

“A big part of the problem is that there are so many people who are willing to undervalue their work. As such, people have come to expect “freelance bloggers” to be able to produce quality content for a couple dollars a post or, worse, in exchange for “exposure.”

I’m sorry, but “exposure” doesn’t pay the bills. While I have no problem giving back to the community by helping out a local non-profit or charity, I will not do the same for any for-profit organization. Just because I’m a “freelance” writer does not mean that I will work for free.”

First and foremost, you have to respect yourself as a freelancer. As part of this self-respect, you have to learn how to value your work and your contributions. What I do and what you do is valuable. You have to remember that freelance writing, at least for me, is not a hobby; it’s a business and it’s my livelihood.

If you were employed in an accounting firm and your boss asked you to work full-time next month for no money, would you agree? Probably not. By the same accord, it should not be assumed that the services offered by freelance writers, designers, and consultants will be offered for free. We may work from home and we may work based on our own schedules, but we are still working and we should be compensated as such.

As I mentioned in my comment on Raul’s blog, “exposure” doesn’t pay the bills. I may be willing to take on a slightly reduced rate if I’m venturing into a less familiar area to expand my portfolio, but you should expect the rate to shift in the future, just as rates shift for any other kind of professional product or service.

Recognize that the work you do for your freelance clients provides a great deal of value. It would only be fair for you to charge a rate appropriate to the amount of value a client is extracting as a result. Just because you’re a freelancer does not mean that you work for free.