Want to be able to charge more for your work? These three strategies will make your time and skills more valuable.

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One of the biggest challenges most freelancers face when starting out is how much to charge. Or more accurately, determining what your knowledge and skills are worth. We’re afraid if we charge too much, we won’t be able to find any work at all. Or if we charge too little, we won’t be able to make ends meet.

With so many options available—from setting an hourly rate, a fixed price, a one-time charge or a combination of all three—it can be difficult and overwhelming. So how do you determine what you’re worth as a freelancer?

The answer is all about value! You have to make yourself, your products and your skills extremely valuable. Because the more valuable you are, the more money clients will be willing to pay you.

But creating value isn’t always easy, and like other things in life, it takes time and dedication to do it properly. Here are three ways to make your time and skills more valuable:

1. Complete a certification program or take a class

The main ingredients to making yourself more valuable are your skills, experience and reputation. One of the best things I did to add value to my business (and bottom line) was completing a certification program. Now when people look at my resume or portfolio, they see the effort I made to get certified. This not only shows my dedication, but that I believe the work I do is good enough to invest in.

If you’re looking to start a social media business, consider taking the HootSuite University course or buying an instructional ebook from a successful social media expert. The same principle applies for other areas too, like finance, education and technology-related fields.

Professional certifications don’t cost a lot of money, but they’ll help you stand out in a seemingly endless pool of freelancers.

2. Go above and beyond your client’s expectations

Going the extra mile for your client is simple and only takes a little common sense. Things like doing small work for free, submitting your project on time and doing work without being asked will go a long way towards impressing your client.

Each time you go above and beyond for them, you become more valuable in their eyes. This makes them feel like you’re on their side, like you want them and their business to succeed. They’ll view you as a team player instead of just someone working for a paycheck.

3. Treat your business like a business

A common mistake many self-employed people make is not acting professionally and failing to think like a business owner. Smart business owners are conscious of displaying solid customer service skills, reliable in terms of staying in contact with their clients and, most importantly, trustworthy.

When you’re a freelancer, you’re the face of your business and your brand. Always be aware of how your brand is represented and the reputation you’re building for your business. Having a satisfied client recommend you to other potential clients is worth more than pitching your own work. That’s the goal of any freelancer: to become a valuable resource clients will continue to use and recommend to their friends, family and coworkers.

The more valuable you become, the more clients will be willing to pay for your services. And as long as you continue to produce valuable, high-quality work, you’ll have no problem justifying the rates you set for your business. After all, your big goal is likely to get paid what you’re worth, which helps you and your business grow.

What’s one way you’ve increased your worth as a freelancer?

Carrie Smith is the writer behind the Careful Cents blog, where she helps people get out of debt, find a career they love and make cents of life. You can connect with her on Twitter.



  1. Dee Relyea

    Good article. I would add that it is also important to exude self confidence and competency in your field. In my experience as a career coach, I find many freelancers and consultants have difficulty with the “fraud factor”. They don’t feel like they will be viewed as having expertise. Getting some kind of certification is helpful to the freelancer to boost their own self confidence as well as giving them credibility with potential customers/clients.

    • Carrie Smith

      That’s an excellent point Dee! Having self confidence is a big asset when increasing your worth to current or potential clients. It’s that sort of “fake it till you make it” factor – but in a good way!

  2. David Lee

    There are several other components of getting the upsell or getting more for what you offer as a freelancer. One thing for sure is sales. A lot of people who I run into who are consultants or “social media consultants” buy the books and say they follow Mari Smith and etc. Still can’t sell to potential clients because they lack the drive or confidence, sometimes a certification won’t do that for you. The feeling or characteristic comes from being extroverted, being able to relate to the problems the client have, and problem solving. One tip I would offer to anyone who is in the freelance business, ask yourself all the tough questions, that you think the most skeptical prospect might ask. If you are not confident in your deliverables or credentials, then you will only get the minimum fee for your work and quality typically suffers. Once you get pass this hurdle you will be able to to negotiate better fees etc etc. Then you won’t have to fake it till you make it…

  3. Dana Leavy-Detrick

    Something important to include in here is that you also have to understand what that value is that you’re delivering to the client, and get good at communicating it. If you’re a designer, they’re not just paying you for your hourly time – they’re paying you for your top-level skill, your network of resources which you’re leveraging to do the job, your expert eye for color/typography/layout/branding, and your X years of experience, before you even became a freelancer. People get stuck in the trap of assuming they have to charge less because they just started in business as an indepdendent – but what you’re really being paid for is the work you did and skills you built up before setting out on your own. We shouldn’t be afraid to charge accordingly.

    • Carrie Smith

      I totally agree Dana, and you make an excellent point. This is something I’ve had to change in my way of thinking as a freelancer and it’s probably something a lot of us struggle with. Especially in the early stages of our side hustles.

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    Don’t undervalue your time. When you’re deciding on an hourly fee, consider ALL the costs of doing business–computers, office supplies, rent, etc. In an office job, someone else would pay for these. You need to build them into your rates. Also, charge for everything you really do for the client, including answering emails, taking things to the post office, etc. Don’t give that time away. If you don’t want to actually put those tasks on a time sheet, then raise your hourly rate to cover some administrative tasks.

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    Wow. Great article and wonderful, insightful comments! I agree with everyone below. I am always asked to lower my rates and I never do. Instead, as you all have stated below, I absolutely point out the value in what I do and what makes me a better candidate for the job than others. About 90% of the time, I get the job, even if I charge a higher fee. The bottom line is you get what you pay for.

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