This is a question that always comes up for freelancers and new business owners. There is a fine line between the temptation of charging a higher price for your services and making a profit, but not attracting many initial clients, and charging much less than you’re worth in order to build your client base. It’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve. I myself have struggled with this challenge and still do – on a daily basis.
Alienating yourself is a constant scare where new business is concerned, stunting your growth before you even have a chance to achieve any business at all is a frightening prospect. You need to be fair with yourself and with your clients. Chances are that they are small market businesses as well and might not be able to afford the full amount of what you would like to charge. It is at this stage when you should sit down with your client and work out a plan together that will allow them to get something they want that is both within their price range and within what you are comfortable providing in return. If you have this plan from the very beginning of the project, then neither yourself nor your client will feel taken advantage of. You will provide yourself with a much more relaxed and easy working relationship and environment.
When it comes down to it, trust your feelings and your skill level. If you feel that the expertise and the service you provide based on the type of equipment you own, the software that you have, or your years of experience are all worth a particular price, then you should charge that price. Just keep it relative to the particular situation at hand, with what your client’s budget might be.
Also, one key piece of information that I would pass on to people is how much value there is in the ability to say ‘no.’ You do want to attract new clients and be aware that they will probably get you to compromise your rates or time regularly as you are only starting out, but despite this, you do not want to waste your time.
For example, doing something for free for a friend might benefit you in the future and therefore would be worth your time to do. But you don’t want to get stuck in the trap of doing everything as a favour. The best thing that I have found to do is to say that you would be more than willing to do a particular task,but state how much that task would have been worth had you been charging full price. And depending on the nature of your relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for something in return.Things such as bartering for equipment that someone else has might save you money on a shoot in the future and will then turn a profit for you, making up for the particular free service that you provided earlier.
Usually your gut feeling will tell you if you are comfortable doing a project for a particular price or time period, and if you are not comfortable, simply don’t do it. Time is your biggest ally in film and production and you don’t want to waste it.
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