The issue is that the position location can be anywhere in the US, depending on the freelancers location. It is not as easy as just picking a job description from some website list based on location. How do I choose a number, when the base could be in the most expensive job market or the cheapest one?

The job description for reference:

  • You will prepare, compile and sort documents for data entry.
  • You will verify data and correct data where necessary.
  • You will enter data from sources into prescribed computer databases, files or forms.
  • You will check completed work for accuracy.
  • You will store completed documents in designated locations. You will comply with data integrity and security policies.
  • Ability to use or desire to learn Excel and be able to write complex functions such as: pivot tables, lookup formulas (VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP), logical formulas (or, if, and, iserror), conditional formatting, and numerous other excel functions
  • You will maintain own computer.
  • Are you talking about a rate for yourself, or a rate to offer to interested freelancers? Because if it is for yourself, I assume you know what kind of job market it is? Some more context might help to get better answers, although Scott down here seems to have quite some answer worked out already :) – user3244085 Dec 25 '16 at 20:56
  • Yeah, Scott hit it out the park. – grldsndrs Dec 25 '16 at 21:16
  • @user3244085 What do you mean, What kind of Job Market it is? Are you referring to some sort of supply/demand characteristic? Also, is the context to which you refer, about my experience level or other? – grldsndrs Dec 25 '16 at 21:27

Realize that any price point is largely fabricated.

No one can tell you what to charge and even looking at others in the same field at best you may get a general outlook on the current market, but no directly relatable figures for freelancing. Also realize employees typically earn far less than freelancers in the same field because employees get things like health care, heat, power, vacation, sick days, 401k -- all of which freelancers must pay for themselves.

In addition, looking at direct competition freelance rates aren't going to tell you much either. One freelancer may charge $100 for something while another charges $200 for the same thing. They may both be priced accordingly for their services and expertise... you would have no way of knowing. You generally can't price based on what other's charge. If you do, you either end up burning off clients because they feel they are paying too much for your services eventually leaving you aching for clients, or you short yourself and work way more than you should to make the same income.

You can get a general "guestimate" though by looking at what corporations are paying for an employment position in the field....

  • Compile a list of salaries for similar full time employment positions, regardless of location in the US. Yes some will be higher, some lower. Try and target positions all looking for your general level of skill/experience.

  • Average those salaries to get a single median salary figure.

Some trains of thoughts are to just charge 3 or 4 times what the average salary is for an employee. So you could multiply the median by 3 or 4 and get a yearly salary. Often this may work. It depends upon the field.

Personally, if I use my last employment salary (+10 years ago), and multiply that by 3.... it is considerably more than what my current hourly rate is... My market just would not bear me setting a rate at 3x my last salary, let alone 4x. So I, personally, have found this method interesting, but not quite usable. I still make what I feel I'm worth, it just can't be 3x my last paid salary position. My rate is, however, relatively close to 4x the salary for an entry-level position in my field. So... well... you have to determine things for yourself.

It's also imperative to know your minimum rate.

  • Calculate your yearly overhead (heat, electricity, water, equipment, software, subscription services, health care, mortgage/rent, repairs, etc.). This gives you a minimum yearly income.

  • Factor the amount of work hours you plan to be available per year (be certain to deduct time for vacations, personal days, sick days, etc) - general ballpark may be around 1800 hours (about 40 hours a week for 45 weeks, leaving roughly 7 weeks for "personal" stuff)

  • Divide the overhead by the work hours to get your minimum hourly rate.

  • To get the median hourly rate, just divide the median by the same amount of work hours.

From here.. it's more subjective.....

Look at how your minimum yearly relates to the median salary.

Look at how your minimum hourly relates to the median hourly rate.

Is the minimum higher or lower? It should be lower. If your minimum is higher, then you may need to evaluate the feasibility of actually being able to freelance in this field. Higher minimum means you may be currently living outside what freelancing will support. So, you may need to pay down some debt and eliminate some monthly expenses before freelancing is feasible.

If the median is higher, how much higher? A lot? A little?

If it's just a little... again you may have too many monthly expenses and may want to consider reducing debt first so you aren't "scrambling" for income right away.

Then there's all the unknowns... how much experience do you have? How proficient are you at what you do compared to a recent college graduate or entry-level employee? These are intangible in general and merely require self-evaluation and honest assessment.

Standard figures are to customarily add 20% to your hourly minimum for profit. But that's just a ballpark. So you take your minimum hourly Add 20% to it... how does that compare to the median hourly rate? How about if you add 40%, 60%... 150%... 200% etc. to your minimum hourly. Remember every % above your minimum hourly would be profit for you. So maybe it takes 130% added to your minimum hourly to get to the same as the median hourly. Your'e already in good shape then.

But, suppose you've got 10 years experience and specialize in a "niche" of the field that not many specialize in? Maybe add another 10% for every year of experience to compensate you for the expertise you offer above an average employee. Maybe add another 20% because you're able to turn projects around much faster than in an office environment? It's all subjective. In the end you may feel that your minimum hourly + 250% is a price point you feel good about and, while higher than average employee salaries, you offer much more than any employee could offer.

Then you test the market... if you get way more work than you can handle, your pricing is too low and you need to start raising it. If you have client connections but aren't ever getting any actual work from them, then your pricing may be too high. So you adjust. If you get enough work, but don't get everything you bid on, you're probably priced pretty well.

Pricing is often a constant moving target as skills improve, clients change, technology changes, etc. The only real imperative thing is that you are always charging at least your minimum so you aren't losing money by freelancing. And remember, it's always easier to lower pricing than it is to raise it. Starting a bit high and dropping (if even necessary) is often the best "guess" when you first venture out.

  • Great answer. I take exception to the use of the word fabricated, however. The word connotes intentional deception and your answer details a thoughtful, meaningful honest, approach. I understand what you mean: everyone has a personalized way to get their number. But, I don't think fabricate fits here; in fact it does a disservice to you insightful answer. – grldsndrs Dec 25 '16 at 21:36
  • @grldsndrs -- Fabricate - To construct something from prepared components -- It doesn't automatically have to mean or imply any deception. I certainly didn't mean to use it to imply deception but rather just "made up from collected data" – Scott Dec 26 '16 at 5:44
  • Yes, I take your meaning as it was intended, but when I started reading your answer, after the first sentence, I thought I would find highly subjective and questionable reasoning. I did not! I already had an inkling of the subjective nature of the question and your opening fed into that. Because you put a not-insignificant amount of effort into your answer, I thought you would want to know how your words came across . I think when fabricate is used to describe ideas which are subjective in nature, the ideas described are readily interpreted as deceptive. – grldsndrs Dec 26 '16 at 11:18
  • Fabricate simply means to "make up". The word itself never indicates collusion or ill intent. It can be used to express things made up for bad purposes "fabricate a lie", "fabricate evidence". However, "fabricate" is innocuous on it's own. It can be used for good intent as well --"Fabricate a gift", "Fabricate a donation", --- or just innocuously -- "Fabricate a web site", "Fabricate a machine part". – Scott Dec 26 '16 at 16:04

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