What should a freelance charge?

16 01 2011

When you are starting out as a freelance the hardest thing is dealing with the administration, and the hardest part of the administration is the finances. If you’ve been on a salary as a science communicator and now you want to go it alone how much should you charge?

The formula is very simple and it is based on what you want be earning every year and how many jobs you think you’ll be able to do.

Add your anticipated expenses to the salary you think you should be earning, divide it by the days you can charge for and then that will give you your daily rate. I guarantee the first time you do this your eyes will water but there is no point working for nothing. Your business needs to be sustainable to survive and by charging less than a sustainable amount you are only making it harder for others to succeed.

Look at your competitors both in the science communication industry but also across other competing industries (Theatre in Education companies, Science Centres, Outdoor Centres, etc). I bet they are charging a lot more than your figure. Any organisation will have to charge more than an individual as they will have extra staff and buildings to charge for on top of the expenses you will have.

Don’t overestimate the number of days you can work. If your work is going to be mostly in schools remember that there are only 195 school days in any one school year. If you take out those times at the start and the end of terms when schools rarely book external visitors you are looking at perhaps as few as 150 potential days you could work. When you acknowledge that you will be lucky in the first few years to reach 75% capacity then that number reduces even further. If you have to collect props or consumables and then travel to and from a job that might stop you from working on the days either side of a job. This then means a job that you imagine will take one day suddenly becomes three.

And don’t underestimate the costs that you’ll have either. Be honest and realistic with what you’ll actually be spending to do the work.

The Federation of Small Business advises:

“The goal of the business is to make a profit and you have to keep that in mind when setting your prices. If you can’t beat certain competitors on price then quality of service and the personal touch to your clients will often make the difference.”

More information about being a freelance can be found at Freelance UK. Here you will find answers to questions often asked by those wanting to start out including: Is Freelancing the job for me?

If you’ve got any advice about what to charge or issues those new to the industry might face post them in the comments and we’ll explore them in later postings.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: