What's the Going Rate for Freelancers?

Calculating the going rate for freelancers and creative talent can be a bit of a challenge. What should you pay them? When it comes to freelancers, companies pay different rates for the category of services rendered. For example, a freelance Copywriter is typically on a different pay scale from a Web Designer.

But businesses also pay by project. Within each project, there are also fee variables related to the deliverable itself. You can also pay by the hour or by the day.

If you weren’t confused before, you probably are now. Let's take a moment to organize our thoughts around the freelance model. We have some concrete steps you can take to figure this one out.

The Rise of the Gig Economy

The “1099 economy,” named after the tax form freelancers’ use, gained press after the 2008 housing market crash. Downsized middle-aged professionals joined millennials and the retired, but still working, baby boomers were then landing contract work that ranged from dogsitting to writing blog content to graphic design. When many of these workers found that they enjoyed the ability to work when they wanted to, the gig economy really took off.

Contract workers make up one-third of the U.S. workforce today, or 53 million Americans. Most of these independent contractors have multiple 1099 roles. They use a variety of web platforms to monetize their services, including Airbnb, FlexJobs, and TaskRabbit.


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What’s Your Project – What Will You Pay?


It’s important to recognize there is no “typical rate” in the freelance world. If you’ve decided to charge a day rate, you could simply take the salary of a full-time employee and divide it by the number of working days in the year.

If you don’t have a prior salary to base your numbers on, try the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out an average salary for full-time creative talent. You can follow a similar calculation if you’re trying to select an hourly rate instead of a day rate. But these rates should also reflect the scope of the project and the experience of the creative talent you’re seeking.

A brand new freshly graduate graphic artist may have a much lower rate than a more experienced designer. You’ll have to weigh in on the old adage of “sometimes you get what you pay for.” Will the less experienced freelancer be able to get the job done to your satisfaction?

We recommend checking out FlexJobs.com and other sites, including freelancer.com, to find out what businesses are charging for similar projects in your area. Even Craigslist ads might yield some interesting information about what is “average” for your market. Or, contact your local, friendly Artisan Recruiter or Account Manager.


Ask A Friend About Freelance Rates

Gig specific groups on Facebook are a great place to poll fellow professionals and business owners about rates, but it’s in these situations that the advice and support of a creative staffing agency likeArtisan Talent can really come in handy.

Our teams work with freelance creative job seekers every single day and have a good sense of what’s happening in the 1099 world. In addition to providing advice on rates, we can help you find the right freelancer, and even handle payroll on your behalf. 

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