I have been a freelance musician for years. Unfortunately for the longest time I tried to undercharged for any services/work I did.
Well, a lot of reasons. However, the most prevalent reason was that in my early 20’s, I often felt too young to charge the same rates as others older than me, even though it was for the exact same work. If not that, I felt the need to stay competitive in my field and took it too far.
It wasn’t until other people who saw what I charged tell me my work was worth more before I actually saw it that way. It’s almost embarrassing that it took people who wanted to work with me literally tell me I should charge more.
And I don’t want you to make the same mistake of undercharging as I did.
So, here are some personal freelance stories of mine for you to learn from:
At age 20, I wanted to be a private lesson teacher in a music store. Which was something I hadn’t done before.
I did my research, found out that this one local music store did not have a piano teacher available on Saturdays, which was a position I could fill.
So I went down to the music store, talked to the owner about the need they had that I could fulfill and why I was qualified to fill that position.
I said I would charge students $20 an hour.
After I said my rate, the owner of this music store looked at me funny. It confused me at first, but then he expressed how I should be charging at least $25 for a HALF hour.
This took me by quite a surprise and shock. I didn’t think I could charge that at all. But then the music store owner convinced me I could by showing me what their other teachers charged for the same work I would perform, and how the other teacher’s students came and stayed.
So I did end up charging my $25, and the students did come and stay. This is the point where I finally understood my value. Talking to that music store owner was a defining moment in my freelance career. I was lucky to find someone who believed in my value and took the time to make sure I understood that value as well.
If you haven’t had that someone yet, let me be the person to tell you that you are valuable!
Your work is valuable. People want your services because they are valuable. Know your worth and stop undercharging.
That music store wasn’t the only instance either.
One time I was hired to transcribe a piano part to a song. So naturally the person who needed the transcription asked how much I charged. I’m not even going to say how much I said because it’s an embarrassingly low amount. So low that she literally said that she’d be willing to pay me more for the job!
Being a 20-somethings person in the world of freelance work is scary.
It’s competitive and it’s uncomfortable to ask for a decent amount of money when you are relatively young until you just get used to it. It’s hard, but yet so empowering to realize and get to say “this is how much my knowledge and services are worth”.
Now, I don’t remember where I heard this quote because it was a while ago. But it was something along the lines of,
“In the freelance world, people aren’t paying you just for a one time service. Included in the cost is also the years of education and experience it took you to gain those skills that a person is hiring you to have”.
When I heard this, I had a huge lightbulb go off in my head. So I thought I’d share so that someone else can take something valuable away from those words of wisdom as well.
So moral of the story: know your worth.
Don’t undercharge for any freelance work you do. This goes for every freelance worker as well, wether it be for photography, MUAs, writers, you name it!
I am wishing all of you the best of luck with your freelance work! And as always, sending you light and love for your creative endeavors as well.