Effective Pricing for Freelancers: The Art of Getting Paid Well

It isn’t rare that a freelancer encounters this all-too-familiar internal conflict: how does one price one’s freelance services?

Admittedly, putting a price tag on your work--whether it’s hourly or on a project basis--can rouse up a lot of doubts about one’s worth.

To anyone who closely ties their work with their sense of self, assigning a monetary value to their livelihood puts into question how much one’s blood, sweat, and tears really cost.

Sometimes though, the problem is less crisis of self-worth and more “I seriously just don’t know how to do this pricing thing”. This is especially true for beginner freelancers who are perhaps yet too sheepish to ask for a good price to their services.

This is why it’s important to know the rate of your bottom line by asking one very important question: What’s your Minimum Acceptable Rate?

Computing your Minimum Acceptable Rate

LeavingWorkBehind’s Tom Ewer gives awesome advice on how to calculate your freelancing rates: identify your Minimum Acceptable Rate, or MAR. This is the baseline of the project rates you’re willing to work for.

The formula is:

[(Personal Overheads + Business Overheads) / Hours Worked] + Tax

Personal overheads should cover your living expenses in a month or year, like paying for your food and house. Meanwhile, business overheads should cover the amount you spend to maintain your business in a month or year (your internet connection, your electrical bill, gadgets, etc.) Divide this amount by the hours you project to work for the month or year. After you get the total, add taxes on top.

Say, you spend 50,000 pesos to pay for your rent, food, water, and groceries every month. That would be your personal overhead. For your business overhead, add an extra 5,000 pesos for your electricity and phone bills every month. That brings the overheads amount to 55,000 pesos.

Now divide that with the hours you project to work in a month. Let’s say you only plan on working 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. In one month, that’s 120 hours.

When you divide 55,000 pesos by 120 hours, that’s roughly 459 pesos.

If you peg your taxes at 12% (assuming that you’ve not registered yourself as a Barangay Microbusiness Enteprise), then your Minimum Acceptable Rate would be at 515 pesos per hour.

Is Charging Per Hour Wise? (Or, Why the Per-Project Basis May Be Better)

This should be taken on a case-by-case basis, depending on your work.

Tom advises against pricing per hour, saying it limits your earning potential, and also clouds your client’s judgment.

He says: “Your competence and the speed at which you are able to do you work can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Don’t undercharge yourself by charging by the hour just because you happen to be good at what you do and can do it quickly and efficiently.”

Simply put, you can clock in as many hours to complete a task, but as a freelancer, you’re not being paid to warm your seat. You are being consulted for your expertise. Why should you be judged to how much time it takes to complete the project, than how awesome you can deliver it with the quickest turnaround time?

Adds Jake Jorgovan in a CareerFoundry article: “Clients don’t care if it takes you 20 minutes or 20 hours to complete the project. Clients care that the work is done and it is done well.“

Learn More Pricing Techniques!

If you’re eager to learn more techniques on pricing yourself well, top online jobs website Freelancer.com and premier workshops organizer Manila Workshops has organized an upcoming #TalinoTalks workshop with you in mind.

On June 18, 1 pm, join the Talino Talks workshop “The Art of Pricing for Freelancers”, with speaker Francis Guintu from the Online Filipino Freelancers community.

“We at Freelancer.com recognize that pricing and negotiation are key to a successful freelancing career,” says Evan Tan ,Freelancer.com’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia. “With the help of the Online Filipino Freelancers’ Francis Guintu, Freelancer.com wishes to educate more aspiring and established Filipino freelancers on becoming top-earning professionals, whatever industry they may be in.”

Save a seat by registering here: bit.ly/freelancepricing


  1. Hmm.... do you pay taxes? I mean is your worked being taxed at all? Just curious. My friend is a freelancer and she got this sort of social security number for enterprises. I don't know what it's called in the Philippines. Anyway, she has lots of taxes to pay. I advised her to find a lawyer how can help her with loopholes or go underground and don't declare anything at all.

    1. Im not a freelancer as of now but from friends i heard that they do have taxes but you have to fix it yourself, so an underground ways or not declaring at all is possible.

  2. This post is helpful to newbie freelancers/consultant. Great article Steve, will share this in my (HR) community

    1. Thanks sonnie, and thanks as well for sharing, but do not own this post. This is an official media release from freelancer.com

  3. This is helpful. Where do you freelance, if you don't mind me asking. :)

    1. Hi gay, i wish i freelance for someone, but no. Haha, this is only a media release from freelancer.com. got you guys confused there! sorry

  4. Nice tips Steve. This reminded me of an incident where an advertising firm asked to use a photo on my blog for an advertising campaign. I didn't know how much should I place on the photo so I gave them a very high amount. They didn't accept my offer.

    1. That's painful, me to, IDK how to price offers from advertisers, thanks be to this article that this allowed us to have an idea to price offers. :)

  5. The time duration, exact time of the call, and even if you want a recording to the called Toll Free Numbers. It is available with them regarding any trouble shooting.

  6. The time duration, exact time of the call, and even if you want a recording to the called Toll Free Numbers. It is available with them regarding any trouble shooting.


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