When you are just getting into an industry or even a new job, it is easy not to value your time properly. I too suffered from the disease of lack-of-value. When I first started in the digital marketing industry, I took on some freelance clients so that I could grow my resume and be able to do case studies.
While this is okay to do when starting out, you quickly will realize that you are working way too hard and receiving very little in return.
Now, yes, when starting out it makes total sense to do pro bono work, but when you are doing this kind of work, you do have to be careful with what terms you agree to do this under. You should make sure to come to an agreement on two things before beginning:
1. The length of the project—how long you’ll be working with them.
2. The time you will be putting in on it—hours per week.
Doing this will help prevent you from doing more work than what it is worth. Once you have built up a good reputation and may be ready to focus 100 percent on freelance work, you will need to put a dollar sign on your work. However, it can be hard to determine what you are really worth, especially when in reality you aren’t going to be worth much.
When this time comes, check out sites like UpWork to see what others in your area of expertise are charging. I think the hardest thing for me was after I had established a reputation and had been working with clients. To change my value to them was hard. Some were harder than others.
The best thing to take away from this: you can’t convince someone who is unconvinceable or, as Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Don’t try to convert the un-convertable.”
If you are really putting out quality work that justifies you increasing your fees, then no one will have a problem with paying more because you are actually doing good work.
If they won’t pay you more, then there are two things to audit yourself on:
1. Is my content any good? Meaning, if all your clients are saying “no,” then maybe it isn’t the client being unreasonable.
2. Am I charging too much? Maybe you are coming in too high and scaring clients off.
I learned the hard way that you need to value your time, because time is all you have, and you can’t waste it letting a problem client hold you back.