On Freelancing and Getting Paid What You’re Worth

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In the modern economy, you’re more likely to be a temp, freelancer, or some other form of a no-benefits, short-term employee than you were years ago, in the era of the classic “company man.” Considering the downsides of freelancing—gigs can end at any time, the expenses of a home office, have we already mentioned no benefits?—how do you figure out what’s fair compensation for your time and effort?

Fast Company’s “Freelance Survival Skills” offers these guidelines:

Finally, good freelancers know how to manage client expectations: under-promise and over-deliver. Estimating the number of hours a job will take is a skill a freelancer develops over time. The rookie tends to underestimate the amount of time a job will require, wanting to impress and offer a competitive price, but forgetting to account for overhead like administration and travel. Studies have shown that all people tend to overestimate their capacity for time-consuming commitments. Freelancers have to overcompensate in the other direction. One rule of thumb: Come up with a number of hours you think a job will take, and then double it.