How Much to Charge for Freelance Video Work
If you’ve ever done freelance video work, you’ve probably had the same dilemma – how much should I charge? What am I worth? Can you really put a price on genius?
But seriously setting your freelance rates is one of the most important aspects of running any video business, from commercial shoots to film and TV work.
So should you charge an hourly, day, or fixed rate? Below are some tips on each of the different ways to charge that will hopefully help you make the right decision.
As a freelancer, charging an hourly rate is ideal as you are guaranteed to be paid for every minute that you work. It allows you to feel confident that you’re not spending too much time on a project that might be dragging on. It’s always difficult to estimate exactly how long it will take you and charging an hourly rate means you don’t have to worry about those projects where the client is continually changing the goal posts. It will force them to appreciate that time really is money!
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you feel is a good hourly rate. How much would you like to reasonably make? If you’re just starting out, the best advice is to follow your gut. If £50/hour seems too high for the work you can deliver, maybe it is. If £10/hour seems a little low, again, it probably is. Work out an average rate based on your skills and experience. If you have stuck with freelancing for a few years, you’ve definitely learned a ton of lessons and should have almost certainly increased hourly rate.
Day rates are great if you want to keep things simple, especially if you’re working on a long shoot (and putting in extra hours!). They they also help if you’re working on a production that has a mixture of different working hours. For example say you’re working on a music video and the call sheet says you’re only scheduled for 8 hours one day and then 2 hours on the following day. Obviously this is not cost effective for you to work only 2 hours so charging a day rate means it balances out. A lot of freelancers only charge day rates as they find they can’t take any bookings on the same day anyway.
You can only charge so much when you charge hourly. Eventually, you’ll come to a point where the client says, “How much!?”. Obviously fixed rates have a ceiling as well however it’s much higher.
In addition to this charging a fixed rate guarantees you a set amount of money for the project. Usually you can take a deposit (between 25-50%) which acts a guarantee between you and the client. However if you charge an hourly rate they may decide to cancel in the middle of a project (or you might finish quicker than you expected!). Finally charging a fixed fee you can make the client confident by including things like amendments which keeps them happy and justifies charging a slightly higher fee.
Be confident and justify your costs
We all question our own abilities and this is the one of the biggest problems when charging for work (especially when starting out!). We ask ourselves questions like “How good am I?” Or “Have I delivered what they want?”.
You should have some idea of what you are capable of and what you can deliver. You will make mistakes and learn new things along the way. Some projects won’t go as well as you had hoped, but hopefully that’s a small number in comparison to the ones which have gone really well.
Whatever you do be confident and stick to your prices! You know as well as anyone that video production is a skill that has value, so when you’re asked what your rates are, you’ll want to be ready with a specific number. Your prices essentially boil down to a combination of your portfolio, skill level, and client list.
Freelance doesn’t mean you work for free!
All too often, new freelancers are eager to work for free in order to build their demo reel or expand their skillset. Obviously this is perfectly fine if you’re looking to get your foot in the door or have a rather limited portfolio. However if you’re already well established and you’re tempted to work for free (especially if it’s a big commercial company) then don’t do it.
Your potential client is expecting your services to cost something so it essential you set a good rate. The reason why charging for your work is important is because every time someone does video work for a cheap price (or free) they are undercutting the market which doesn’t help other freelancers!