Freelance Pricing: Trends & Tips to Help You Charge More

People freelance for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the flexibility, and for others it’s creative freedom. No matter the industry, hardly any do it because they enjoy contract negotiations — especially about pricing.
We built Bonsai because we understand that freelancing should be more about the deliverables and less about the pricing. Unfortunately, with so many Americans freelancing and no standardized minimum rate, knowing how much you can charge and still book work is an art in itself.
With that in mind, we have recently built our Freelance Rates Explorer to make it less Picasso and more paint by number. We used powerful data analytics on thousands of freelance contracts and invoices to build what we hope will help any freelancer more confidently price their work. It’s not a magic wand, but it certainly is a trick up your sleeve.
Making Sense of Freelancer Pricing
Freelancing is not necessarily hard, especially if you are an expert at your craft. The real challenge is knowing how much to charge. Unfortunately, many freelancers do not realize this, and as a result, do not prioritize learning this skill. They, instead, end up setting their rates too low and ruining their chance at success. The fact that many creative freelancers underprice their services is part of the reason why the long-term freelancer is still a unicorn.
The Bonsai Rate Explorer analyzes data provided by thousands of freelancers to provide real numbers that you can use to price your services. While the programming was quite detailed, the concept is not. Instead of using complicated formulas, we kept it simple. We asked current freelancers what they charge.
Using user-supplied data from the Bonsai Contract creator, the Rate Explorer tool extrapolates freelancer rates across multiple variables — including location, experience and job role. The result is an easy-to-use, real-time tool that accurately reflects the going rate for your industry.
Smart Pricing Is More than Numbers
Successful freelancing is a combination of delivering exceptional service, creating a great product, and pricing competitively. We can’t help you code, but we can give you the necessary data to confidentially negotiate your rates.
Here are just some of the insights our tool has revealed so far:
Developers Can Charge More than Designers
If you are confused about the difference between the two, you are not alone. Many professionals will say they are one and the same, but there are some technical differences. A website developer is responsible for planning out and building a website, while the designer is responsible for its visual aspects.
While the line between website designer and developer can often be vague, the rate of pay is not. Freelance website developers of all levels on average earn 30% more than website designers — regardless of where they live, and the amount of experience they possess.
For the freelancer who can choose between the two roles, this handy bit of data can mean significantly more money for the same hours worked.
Most Designers Earn under $60/hr
In most job roles, higher levels of experience lead to higher paying projects. However, according to our data, this is not the case for the majority of graphic designers — freelance graphic designers tend to cap out at about $60/hr.

Your Rates Can Change Dramatically the First Five Years
In the traditional job force, it is normal to go 5-10 years before earning a raise or promotion. This is not true for freelancers. In fact, our data revealed that the majority of freelancers double their rates in the first five years.
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via Reme Le Hane

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