If you noticed, I didn’t title this blog “Know YOUR Worth” and I have no intentions of diving into anything “setting your prices” related.
Well for starters that is not really my thing and pricing is very subjective. The other reason – this blog post isn’t for freelancers. I am directing this post to those who are looking to hire said freelancers, so listen up!
First and Foremost – Come on Really?!
When time permits, I sneak into Facebook groups to keep my fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the freelancer/entrepreneur world. The constant complaint in VA groups: potential clients wanting an empire built in exchange for a bag of marbles. Translation – potential clients wanting to pay $3-$5 an hour to someone with over a decade of experience in their craft.
Now do you see why I said “Come on Really?!”
This may not be you and if it is not, I applaud you and encourage you to keep reading in case you know someone who is like this. For those of you who looked at that rate and said to yourself “What’s wrong with that?”, keep reading…
Listen, let’s get real for a second. I am assuming if you have gotten this far you are a business owner and have hired or intend to hire freelancers in the future (or are just really curious where I am going with this). With that idea in mind, I am also positive as a business owner that you offer services to your own target audience, yes?
So here’s the reality check – think of all the time, energy, and effort you spend coming up with your products, honing your craft, and carving out time to create those products. Would you sell each product for only $3 to $4 dollars? Would your coaching packages only be $500 a month to work with a client full time each week? If no, why on earth would you ask a freelancer who is essentially doing the same thing?
Now this is the part where some of you may try to justify that it isn’t the same thing. I have worked with countless clients for over 16 years, trust me when I say it is the same exact thing. As freelancers, we are doing exactly what you do – we are building our webpages, we are writing our copy, we are promoting on social media and working our marketing strategies. We are creating products and stand-alone services to satisfy that SWYS (sales while you sleep) approach while still taking care of our clients AND carving out time to stay up to date on an ever changing industry in order to provide exemplary service and recommendations for our clients. We are networking, attending conferences, and doing what it takes to grow our business. We are entrepreneurs that do not sleep! We are no different than any of the people we help with their businesses. I am assuming you wouldn’t advice a colleague in your industry to sell their services for mere pennies, freelancers should receive the same courtesy.
Here’s the deal:
While I can’t speak for every single freelancer on the planet, especially those in other countries, I can speak from my own experience as a former Virtual Tech Assistant (now Tech Manager) and those I have had this conversation with in the past. We understand many of you are new in building your business but just like moving into your first apartment, buying your first car, or furnishing your first home – you had a budget in mind and worked within that budget until you could find something better. You were reasonable about your expectations. For example: You didn’t go to a Maserati dealership with $400. You were sensible and either looked for used cars online, went to a car auction, or made public transportation work until you could save up for what you really wanted.
Hiring a freelancer isn’t any different. Stop demanding unreasonably low prices from incredibly experienced freelancers! Don’t be belligerent when they refuse to negotiate their prices. Definitely DO NOT attempt to shun them because they said no to work for a “commission only rate” based on the sales you may or may not make with your product, especially when they have nothing to do with sales so their income is solely dependent on how much effort you put in. Just don’t.
Curious why that last one was oddly specific?
While I approach most things in life with a “to each their own attitude” even I couldn’t shrug that one off. This person was essentially asking for free work with the contingency that she only had to pay if she made sales. Meaning all the work the copywriter, graphic designer, and web designer did could have been for naught if she simply decided not to sell the product or put as little effort into selling it as possible since any return of investment would have put her in the positive (having paid zero dollars for any work involving the creation of the product). Let’s just say the response to her job request did not go well.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Finding help while you are on a budget isn’t a lost cause. Take the time and be resourceful or better yet, I will help you be resourceful. One day, you will be able to hire the equivalent of a Maserti or a penthouse suite, but for right now, you are going to have keep your expectations and budget on the same level.
- Barter. A LOT of new freelancers are in dire need of testimonials and references. For this reason, they are willing to do an agreed upon task in exchange for either a testimonial, an exchange of services, or the liberty to use what they created as part of their portfolio. The Women’s Entrepreneurs Referral and Barter Network is an EXCELLENT group for this. Again, this should not be abused by people who are claiming to be six, seven figure businesses but are too cheap to pay for assistance (harsh but true, a little judgmental but kind of slap in the face when you think about it). This is a great group for businesses who have limited resources but have hit a wall and desperately need help getting over a hump with either copy, design, strategizing, etc.
- UpWork: While it isn’t what it was in the past, UpWork is an excellent platform to hire internationally for next to nothing. Instead of soliciting experienced individuals with a budget that they may find insulting, you can simply post your job and what you are willing to pay and those who want to work for that price find you! Be aware that the vast majority of applicants will be from India and the Philippines if the budget/rate is extremely low but the talent and abilities of those communities are no different than those in the US, the only true caveat is the time zone difference (and most will work within your time zone if that is a requirement) and in some instances, a language barrier (or culture barrier if you are wanting a writer familiar with American colloquialisms). With my Freelancer Hiring Service, I have helped many individuals find the help they needed via UpWork – especially since it can be hard to filter out the best from the rest without prior recruiting experience.
- Fiverr: Like UpWork, Fiverr isn’t what it used to be back in its hay day so while I recommend it for a budget friendly resource, I will say be careful. There are a lot of scammers on the site that will give you plagiarized copy, stolen or already sold designs – passing them off as originals, or will simply confirm they have experience and then do a complete 180 when hired. To avoid these pitfalls, go for Level One or higher sellers, check reviews, and start a conversation with them – confirming they understand what you are needing. This way if things have to escalate towards a refund, you have a “paper trail” that the seller falsely stated their understanding of your needs. Now that we got that out of the way, Fiverr is a great avenue for one and done tasks. This is not where you would go for long term support, their platform focuses on ticking items off your check list – social media graphics, copy for an email sequence, podcast show notes, audio edits, video edits, again things that do not require long term support – just a task that once completed, can be delivered and closed out. As a buyer, you can create “buyer’s request” so, like UpWork, sellers can look for you and already know what you are wanting to pay for the task being created.
Revenue is the name of the game
At the end of the day, remember that we are all running a business. Virtual Assistants, freelancers, contractors, etc are not sitting around with nothing to do and chomping at the bit for someone to offer them something – anything, just so they can work. They have bills, they have revenue goals, and they have done the work to set their prices and fees to meet those goals – just like you.
Please be mindful of that when looking for someone to help you with your business.
Especially be mindful when listing an acceptance speech worth of content in a hiring ad in a Facebook Group and then putting a single digit hourly rate at the bottom. More hiring groups are starting to push back against this and are requiring at least the minimum wage (currently $7.25 at the federal level, differs at state level) for any posts created and directed at US-based individuals. When I work with clients who hire me to help recruit for a Virtual Assistant, we have a very in depth conversation about desired rate and what that translates to (i.e. you get what you pay for). I am very honest with my clients and ask them what they want to have completed, their expectations of the potential hire, and a plethora of other questions before providing the sticker shock of what that equates to an individual who will actually stick around and not ghost them after a couple of weeks (which is normally why the came to me in the first place, they kept losing the individuals they were finding on their own).
We all know how difficult it is to start and build a business but for those of us providing a service, remember – we have spent YEARS and countless hours learning our skills. Our rates reflect our training, our certifications, and our dedication to what we do. If you want that level of commitment to your business, you will need to pay for it. You will ask the same of your potential leads when you reach that level with your business (if you don’t already), trust me.
Image from YAYImages: id: 32451460 sCukrov