Dealing with the Profile Hourly Rate
(Page 2 of 2)
Using a High Hourly Rate to Filter Clients
Some freelancers, especially experienced ones, do the exact opposite of what we just discussed. Instead of using a low hourly rate to attract lots of clients, they put in a high rate deliberately designed to discourage many clients from trying to hire them. I’ve seen hourly rates put into profiles as high as $100 an hour, even in fields where work normally costs much less.
Most of the people who do this are professionals with well-established freelancing careers. They have a lot of existing clients and a fair bit of ongoing work, so they are only interested in new opportunities that will be worth their while.
Setting a high hourly rate will of course “scare off” most clients, since a large percentage of the hirers who go to freelancing sites are very price-sensitive. But some will actually view a high hourly rate (as long as it is still reasonable) as an indicator of quality. Established freelancers would much rather have one client willing to pay them well for their time than ten who are looking to get work done cheap. And some clients would rather not waste time trying to save a buck or two, going straight to people they feel will get things done properly the first time.
In most cases, I don’t recommend that new freelancers go the route of having a high profile rate, for reasons that should be self-apparent: you’re going to severely restrict your chances of getting work, at a time when developing a work history is critically important. The only exceptions would be those in highly specialized fields who already have well-established offline businesses.
Even those who aren’t new should take this approach with caution. Before you set a really high rate for yourself in your profile, be sure that you really want to filter out everyone below that number. Be reasonable in the number you choose, or you’ll needlessly cheat yourself out of work. Or, to put it another way: if you’d be bummed to learn that a client who’d have been willing to pay $65 an hour skipped your profile because your rate was higher than that, don’t put in an hourly rate above $65. (This is a variation on the “apathetic pricing” model.)
This is the simplest approach, of course (assuming that the site allows you to opt out). It has both advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantage is that it allows you to avoid all of the prejudices and assumptions made by clients that I discussed in the preceding subsections. You won’t have to pick a magic number, nor deal with clients trying to figure out why you bid at a different rate than was in your profile. You won’t have people trying to hire you at a rate you’d rather not work at, nor ruling you out on the assumption that you won’t work for any cheaper.
The flip side is that by not having an hourly rate set, you are not providing any indication to the client of what you expect to be paid. You also will not show up in lists of providers resulting from rate-based searches, which could reduce your chances of getting more work.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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