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Being Competitive in the Video Freelance Market: What Do You Charge Clients?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/19/2011

As a freelancer, you need to know how to price your services. But, how do you go about doing this? What do you need to take into account? Learn about how much you should charge for your work in this article.

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    Sketch out the Project

    As gas prices rise and the economy sinks, more and more companies are reaching out to freelancers and consultants to cut their budget. But, while this move has become a boon for the freelancing industry, you shouldn't sell yourself short in the process.

    Unfortunately, it is hard to find any place on the Internet that gives you an adequate overview of how much you should be charging for your work. Digital videographers don't have a data bank of prices to charge for their next gig. And, the same goes for every other profession. So, how do you go about figuring how much you should charge for your work? You must figure out how to price your freelance video work.

    Well, the first thing that you want to do is sketch out the given or desired project so you can get a feel for how long it will take you and what your client can afford. Create a flow chart of the pertinent information.

    • How long will the project take?
    • How complex/demanding is the project?
    • What can the client afford to pay?
    • How long do you have to finish it? Long-term or short-term project?

    Answering these questions will give you a general idea of what the project involves.

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    Figure out Your Overhead

    Videographer Next, you need to factor in for what you're not getting paid. You won't get paid for sick or vacation days. You also won't get paid for things that you can't bill the clients, i.e. credit card bills, utility bills and groceries.

    This, plus all your other expenses, including some of what you will charge the client, is your overhead. You always need to at least meet your overhead demands. If not, you may not be able to pay this month's rent.

    You also need to think about the software that you need, the costs of using your computer and the cost of replacing any items that may break, including your video equipment. This should all be factored into your price, but not to the point that you are pricing yourself out of the market.

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    Break Down the Project

    Break down your project into stages. Rely on your past experience to figure out how long that particular section took on a previous project, and estimate how long the given phase will take. You always want to overestimate a little; you can't plan for everything. There's always a chance that certain sections will take longer than estimated, or things may become delayed by unexpected causes.

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    Figure Out Your Yearly Salary

    When deciding on how much that you want to make a year, you need to factor these things in. So, you need to think about how many projects that you should get a year and how much each project is going to pay to figure out your yearly income.

    As far as how much to charge, you can either charge by project or by the hour. And, generally, you can figure out these two numbers simply by dividing how much that you need to make on a given project by how many hours that you wish to invest in the project. And, these two numbers will be helpful to both you and your client since most clients want a grand total.

    Another way to figure out how much to charge a client is to charge them what you were paid as an employee or what's being offered to employees who do the same work. Investigate sites that are hiring for the same position. See what employers are offering potential candidates.

    Salary.com is a good place to start. You will need to know how much overhead that you have to figure out how much that you will need to make to match or exceed that amount.

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    Pricing Your Product

    You also need to price yourself by experience level. If you're just starting out, you shouldn't be trying to charge your clients the same price as someone who's been in the business for ten years.

    The best way, however, to figure out what you should be charging clients is by feeling the clients out. If they're too enthusiastic, you may be under-selling yourself. But, if they turn away from you when you mention your hourly rate, you may be pricing yourself out of the market. If may take some practice, but you'll eventual find that happy medium for which every potential client is searching. After you learn how to price your freelance video work, you may need to give yourself a raise after a few years. Cost of living does go up, and you must charge effectively.