Find out what the market charges. Google it. Visit the business section of your library. Call up other businesses that are in your market and ask them for their rates. If someone is charging a lot more or a lot less, find out the difference between his or her service and yours. Talk to associates in your same profession whom you respect. Ask them what they charge.
After you gather the research, sit down and determine what you are going to charge. Make sure it will cover your costs. Remember that if you are self-employed, you don’t receive a benefits package. You have to have money to cover your health care, taxes, overhead, and retirement. Make allowances for your other long-term goals.
Even though we may resist coming to terms with it, we often do know how valuable our work is. We need to acknowledge the value of our own unique attributes and skills and charge appropriately.
I met with a woman who was starting her own business as a computer consultant. She had left her company as a programmer to go out on her own and do computer programming work for small businesses. She had a great deal of trouble coming to terms with what she should charge. It was very difficult for her to charge near what the market was charging for comparable services. We determined that, based on her skill level, goals, and competition, she should charge in the neighborhood of $95 an hour.
I asked her to make a list of the services she provided. Then on a second list I had her write down all the reasons that she should charge $95 an hour. What was special about her? Why should anyone choose her over her competitors? Why should a prospective client hire her?
By the time she was done with her lists she was convinced. She told me, “Well, with this kind of a background, knowledge, expertise, and experience, I am worth it!”
After that point she had no trouble getting her hourly rate out of her mouth without choking. She was able to quote her rate confidently, stand behind it, and feel good about it.
Another client of mine recognizes his ability to synthesize ideas and information faster than anyone he knows.
He saves his clients time and expense by assimilating information upon which to make important business decisions. They count on his ability, and he is able to command a higher hourly rate than others might charge. His clients repeatedly hire him back.
Charge what you are worth. No one else is going to raise your rates. Do the necessary research and determine the appropriate amount. Then revisit and, if necessary, update your rates annually. Your costs will undoubtedly go up because of inflation, so your billing rate may need to go up, as well.
Get this idea off to a good start—take a walk around the block and say out loud, 100 times, what you are really worth.