Film editor Will Steer on how to set prices 😅

Are your freelance rates too low? How do you know what to charge anyway?

Will Steer, a freelance editor, colourist and animator and the brains behind Good Hustle Films has written a post on the ‘Ask’ forum about how he sets fees for freelance work.

Quite a lot of his advice is applicable no matter what industry you’re in though.

Here are the top takeaways.

1) Talk to other people in the industry

Will writes:

Working out your value is mainly about talking to other people in the industry. Networking helps. It can be a bit more awkward to ask people about their rates, so you have to be careful about broaching it. Online forums and Facebook groups are usually pretty good.”

2) Take the client’s budget into account

Although Will is writing about films, his advice is applicable whatever project you’re contributing to:

You might be on a smaller budget project further up the hierarchy and earn less, whereas on a bigger project with the same level of experience, you’ll find yourself further down the hierarchy earning more.”

3) Don’t charge too little

The main mistake he sees people make then they’re starting out is charging too little. He writes:

“It can be scary to think that you won’t get another job, but don’t quote too low. Don’t undervalue yourself. If you feel like a job’s going to take ten days and you only quote for five, or eight, you’re going to be stressed out and you’ll end up resenting your client. In a nutshell: have faith in your work and your value.”

4) Don’t undercut

If you’re aware of the baseline for what the industry is, don’t go below it. You’re screwing the rest of us over and you’re screwing yourself over in the future, because once you start working low for those clients, they will expect those rates to continue. It ends up being bad for your career and for your fellow creative professionals.”

5) Sometimes it’s worth charging less in order to get the experience

If you want to work in feature films (especially indie films), you have to go in a bit lower [than you otherwise would] and work your way up.”

6) Get comfortable turning away clients

If a client isn’t willing to pay the baseline, they’re not a client worth having. They don’t appreciate the value of the labour. It’s as simple as that.”

7) Unions can help you find rates

Will writes that unions can be a good way to find going rates in your industry because they’ve normally been negotiated as a realistic rate between large employers in your industry and the union. He writes:

We’re fortunate enough to have a relatively strong union, BECTU.”

You can find BECTU’s rates advice here.

Find out which union is right for you here.

8) Don’t worry

Finally, he says you will make some mistakes, but the key is not to worry about it too much.

At the beginning, when you’re starting out, you probably will mess up and do too much work for too little money. My advice would be: move forward, and don’t let it worry you too much.”

You can read his whole post here.


Has this information helped you? Is there anything wrong with this? Let us know!

How do you set your rates? Have you ever set your rates too low or too high? Have you got any more tips?Join the discussion in the ‘Ask‘ forum, here.

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