How Much Should I Charge As A Freelancer?

It took me a lot of time to figure out how to price my services. I’m still kind of thinking about it with each project because every project and every client is different. I can give you some advice but this part is simply learning by trying. I can’t estimate how much time it will take you, how much phone calls, emails and meetings it will take for you to finish and deliver the product. But I can give you some tips which help you to estimate your price.

First of all, find out how much other people from your industry are charging. How? Go to Facebook, join a group of your profession; my example is ‘I need a videographer London’ group; and you will see so many job postings for this and that much. Don’t calculate based on this. Just write down types of projects and price for it. Usually from my experience prices on Facebook are very low and it is a cheap resource for someone who needs a video. But, that is not always true. I scored some well-paid projects on Facebook BUT I had to go (see) through 120 cheap ones first.

Charging by the hour?

It is up to you if you want to charge per hour or per project. I do charge per project/product/service not by the hour. The reason for that is that I do value the whole project. If I spend more hours on it than I expected, it is my fault. Either I had some technical difficulties or didn’t make sure that everything was agreed with the client beforehand and not adding anything in the process of video editing.

I spent 15 years video editing and that’s why I’m super quick with it. If I charged by the hour, it wouldn’t make sense. The value I would bring by finishing quickly is huge, I spent 15 years to get where I am now in video editing so basically the logic is that the less time I spent on it, the more I should charge.

With every project, the price will be slightly different. My super big mistake when I started was that clients called me and asked for the price right away and I foolishly told them the amount I thought would cover the project. After the phone call I realised what they really asked for and how much time I will spend on this. Once you agree on the price, it’s very difficult to raise it, however, it’s not a rare thing to do.

If you say that you made a research and you realized that the cost of your journey or whatever will be slightly higher, the client might understand. But it is not very professional, so I would avoid that if possible. Just remember, every mistake is worth trying fixing.

When someone calls you out of blue and tells you what they want, they expect you to tell the price right away. But it doesn’t have to be final. I always prefer to write down everything the client says, sit down on it and calculate expenses and time I will spend on it and then I will call them back with the final price. Usually I make 2 proposals, cheaper and more expensive (offering more equipment, additional photography services, social media, shorter versions of videos, subtitles…).

However, the client usually wants to hear some kind of number when they call you and you should give it to them because they might just call someone else right after they hung up on you. So while you’re making your calculations, you might be losing this project in the meantime. Trust me, it did happen to me and it’s not a good feeling.

It happened because I was busy with another project and it took me 2 hours to get back with the final price and they told me they hired someone who told them the price right away. I think they wouldn’t even have the issue with any price, that’s why I was angry with myself a lot.

So what price do you give them right away?

You have the basics of what they need, of course there will be added stuff to it but you should have an idea more or less how much time you will spend on it. Estimate your minimum daily rate and go with that. Say that you need to write everything down, estimate the price, think about everything you need for video production and then you call them back within an hour with the final price, but to give an idea, you can say your minimum daily rate for this kind of thing.

If they say yes that’s fine, you go ahead and price it knowing that you should not lose money on this. If they have some kind of objections, you must really create a detailed proposal of what and how you’re going to deliver. Don’t over promise what you cannot deliver. Saying you will deliver 8 hours of edited presentations the next morning is not very professional or possible.

Some clients want one sentence in the proposal and some clients want to even know the exact type of video camera I will use. That is why I have decided to always create detailed proposals having all the information in there which also saves me a lot of time when the client wants something that is not mentioned in the proposal. I can then charge them additionally for it or not do it at all. As they have agreed to the proposal previously, they can’t argue with you if you refuse to do the additional work free of charge.

What is the basic information you need to get from the client with the first phone call/email meeting?

Example from my industry:

  • Location of filming (if it’s outside London, I will charge for my travel expenses additionally)
  • Length of filming (if it’s an event, you must count the hours of setting up your equipment, soundcheck and so on. So if the conference starts at 9 and ends by 5 pm, you do not count 8 hours. Add another 2 to it. Also always ask when exactly the filming will end as you have other things scheduled. If they say it might end not at 5 but 6, then you count it as 6 just in case).
  • What equipment they/I require (1 camera, 2 cameras, lights, green screen, microphones and so on. This is usually the information you need to tell them as an expert. They might think that they don’t need a microphone but when you deliver the videos, they will complain about the low quality of the sound. I have been through this, trust me. You can’t blame it on the client because you are the expert and you should have told them risks of not using an external microphone.)
  • When they want the videos to be delivered a.k.a. deadline
  • Will they use their offices/space or they want you to hire it?
  • Will they use their employees for the video or they want you to hire the actors? Will they pay the actors or it will be invoiced through you?

After writing down this information, you can create two proposals. The one with a basic price which involves a single camera, for example, one microphone and so on. Price each thing separately.

Filming……..£

Editing………£

Video camera hire…..£

Second proposal with additional items like:

Microphone……..£

Lights……….£

Actors……….£

Another videographer……£

And then put the final price all together. This way they might take one thing off and agree to a project which makes it easier for you in the end. Count all the expenses, your time all together and create the minimum price you would do this for and this will be used as your line which you don’t cross.

If the client will start negotiating and they will suggest a lower price than your minimum, you will know, because you have already made a calculation, that it is definitely not worth doing. So add a reasonable price to your minimum and that is your final. Now this is the price, you’d like to get in the end and you will be happy.

I wanted to mention the group of clients which ask you for 50% off your initial price. I do walk away from these types of clients right away. If my price is very reasonable and I know that my competition is charging the same or even more.

I will never ever agree to more than 10% off. I do tell them very politely that they will not find anyone with a better offer so they can take it or leave it. If they ask you for 50% of your initial price, they do not value your work enough and you should redirect them to someone in the very beginning of their career — student. If you’re in the beginning and you don’t have a choice because you need to pay the bills, then take it of course. But don’t forget this can’t go on like this forever.

I think I have been through all the worst scenarios of projects and clients. I have taken jobs which even cost me money. Because I priced it wrong, too quickly with no thinking. Sometimes the clients will sell you so you agree to their terms entirely because those sharks can sense you’re a small fish and you basically don’t know what you’re doing. They might also know you’re desperate for money, projects for some reason. Maybe you have low confidence or they see your Facebook page with 3 likes with no testimonials and they will want to take advantage of it, trust me.

Learn more tips from my freelance life in my latest e-book Freelancer’s Diary: Learn from my biggest mistakes available on Amazon Kindle or Gumroad.

Image for post
Image for post

You can find me on social media and also you can check out and Subscribe to my Youtube channel for more tips! Also visit my website for blogs on freelancing: www.nicoleven.com

Instagram: @Nicole_Ven

I’m a freelance video producer and lecturer based in London. Check out my stuff www.nicoleven.com and subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/u

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store