Many freelancers starting out are unsure of how to price their work. It’s totally up to you what you want to charge, so it’s important to look at your own specific situation first. The most important thing is that you need to be able to make a living off of your work, which is more complicated than it sounds. Besides being able to pay the bills, this also means you should factor in the cost of any student debts you might be paying back, and materials you need to run your business. You should also charge for your expertise as an artist. Remember: just because you’re an artist, doesn’t mean that you should be scraping by for your entire life – you should be able to grow and invest in your business, so you should be making more than just what you need to survive. I recommend first figuring out what you need to cover all your monthly costs, and then take into consideration the fact that most freelancers don’t do paid work full-time. They also do a lot of unpaid work in the form of updating social media, answering e-mails, managing finances, etc. If you spend about 50% of your hours doing paid client work, make sure your fee also covers the unpaid hours in which you manage your business.
It also helps to make friends in the industry and ask them what their going rates are, so that you can adapt your rate to what is customary in your field. However, NEVER charge less than you need to survive! When negotiating your fee, keep in mind that you can always bargain downwards, but clients are very unlikely to ever accept a higher fee after you’ve suggested a lower one, so it’s better to err on the side of a higher fee. Also, don’t let yourself be emotionally manipulated by clients who suggest your work is worth less than what you ask. Many of them are just using manipulation tactics to get you to lower your price, so don’t take it personally and just move on to a client that is willing to pay your fee. Also, never work for ‘exposure’ – the kind of work that has given me the most exposure has been my own personal illustrations and sketches, so if you’re considering doing free or low-paid work because you want to expand your portfolio, consider a personal project rather than work for a client.