This is part 3 of the “what do I charge” post.
Knowledge is power! I’ve found it very empowering to have a good idea of what other people and agencies in my area charge, and to know what other people charge across the country. There are salary surveys and freelance surveys available online, which are a good place to start.
Keep in mind that some surveys show salaries for people who work for a company, while some focus on self-employed people (that’s you, freelancers).
These are free:
AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2011: AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2011
Robert Half is a staffing agency. This link offers salary guides in several industries for lots of different countries. Robert Half Salary Guides
This costs money:
The September/October 2011 issue of Creative Business contains their 2011 Hourly Billing Rate Survey.
Keep an eye on these sites when you’ve been running your business for a while: if you participate in their surveys, you often get a copy for free.
It’s also interesting to know what larger companies are paying for designers through creative temp agencies such as Aquent or The Creative Group. If you are working through one of these agencies, the agency is likely billing the client 35% – 100% more than your hourly rate. That gives you an idea of what the market will pay for design help.
Design agencies also probably charge more than most individual freelancers: they generally have higher overhead costs (office space, payroll for designers, project managers, etc.).
I’ve found out rates in my area in the simplest (or most complex, depending on your point of view) way: I talk to friends who are also freelancers. I like to meet other designers, so I belong to several networking groups for creative freelancers. Once I become friends with someone (or maybe it sounds more professional to say “build a relationship”), the conversation eventually always seems to get around to pricing. Everybody is thinking about it.
Keep in mind that knowing what other people and agencies charge doesn’t mean that you should charge the same amount. You’ll probably find out that rates vary wildly. I know web designers who charge $35/hour (probably too low, in my opinion) and I know web designers who charge $95/hour. Agency rates are always higher.
For me, knowing what other people charge helps me to get over my fear of asking for money: the more I hear that other people with similar skills are charging high amounts (and getting paid), the more confident I feel in raising my own rates.
Do you know what other people in your area are charging? How did you find out?