I think it was Bill Clinton who said "If you're good at something never do it for free" or maybe that was the Joker.
Anyway this past week I was approached for contract work so I've had some numbers on my mind. I'll share my opinion on selling your services and pricing your work.
A race to the bottom
There's no getting around the fact that there are plenty of people who are working for far too little pay. Whether that's a lack of confidence in themselves and their work or just wanting to be "nice" and giving their clients a deal they both have the same effect. Every time you take on a job for free, accept lower rates, or work for additional unbilled time you are actively devaluing yourself and those with a similar skillset. Expectations of hourly rates for whatever it is you do is important to have a steady stream of clients. If the competition is willing to work for half of what their time is worth you may find yourself dropping to their level to stay competitive. The quality of work some freelancers push out for minimum wage when they can set their own prices for their time is really sad.
You're skilled at what you do. You have worked for years to learn what you know and practiced to become an expert. That's why people seek out your services. They value your time. They trust your track record and know they can have a great product delivered. If you have a skillset of any kind you should at the absolute least be charging 2.5x minimum wage.
If you're an artist/professional and self employed I know the business side of things can be hard. I hate email and I hate talking money with clients. Of course hating something doesn't mean it's not important. Spend the time to learn to manage your business. Spend the time to REALLY think what your time is worth. In both the long run and the short run higher rates make it easier to turn down work or clients you don't like. Pricing yourself appropriately helps you and everyone else in your field push for a better quality of life inside and outside of work.
When sifting potential clients have a keen eye to spot any questioning of your prices. An "OUCH! Very expensive" comment immediately drops you to low priority brain processing and 1 to 3 business days for email communication. These are the people you waste time thinking about. These are the people who find someone who's services fit their budget last minute after you've sent 10 emails back and forth. By spending less time on people who are less willing to step up and pay a fair price for great work you're going to have a lot less stress in your life
Find a number that's higher than what you, as a professional in the field, would be willing to pay your competitors. If it feels too high you're in the right ballpark.
Anyway whatever I just needed to write something here to fill the gap. Thanks!