Why High Rates is Not Equal to No Work
People have the misconception that high rates translate to fewer job opportunities. While there is definitely truth to that in any freelance industry, you cannot discount the fact that you can thrive even with a rate that is five times higher than the average competitor’s.
What if I told you I get more WORK now – to the point that I’m turning them down or recommending others – that my rate is almost 8x higher than when I started three years ago?
The Stats Don’t Lie
Below are photos of Upwork’s stat-chart thing. Upworkers should not ignore this stat as it tells you a lot about how your profile attracts clients as well as how good you are at marketing yourself. It can also indicate the effect of having low rates against high rates, but not always.
The first two photos shows how I was at first when the whole chart feature was released, almost exactly three years ago.
Based on the screengrabs, I was applying to every job I see, spending “connects” here and there. My profile was just like a regular resume and often contained the same information in my proposals.
Speaking of proposals, I would also provide canned applications as well as be interviewed in such a way that tells the client I need THEM. And it’s true; I did need them because Upwork was the only thing I got going at the time. I’ve had six private clients since, but back then it was Upwork or bust.
And because it was “Upwork or bust,” I came out weak in front of the clients which would prompt them to either haggle my rate or dismiss me completely, thinking I wasn’t really confident in what I said I was capable of. If I remember correctly, my rates were $10.00 at the time as I only went full-time on Upwork last March 2015. In the world of freelancing, $10/hour is no way considered on the level of high rates.
So yeah, clients don’t expect much from $10.00 hires so they’re surprised if the cheap freelancer turned out to be awesome. That’s just the cold truth.
Improve yourself, improve the numbers
Jump three or so years and we have the latest chart which I believe is my best so far (I’ve monitored it since March 5 this year).
The new chart shows the following:
- I no longer apply to every job I see. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I applied more than three times in a month. I’ve learned how to know if a client is cheap or if they’re worth the interview. This also explains the low number of views I get because less proposals = less clicks. I used to get at least 20 views a week.
- I get more interviews. I’ve since learned to specialize, so it should limit the number of interviews I get but I’m still getting one almost every day. Granted 80% of them can turn out to be crap/spam/looking for cheap work, and I decline almost immediately, it’s surprising how often my name comes up in Upwork’s search algorithm despite my aggressive, niche-specific profile tweaks.
- My profile no longer looks like a generic resume. I learned how to “game” the search system to make sure my profile is highlighted on the first or second page when specific keywords are used. So, you can say my profile is able to net the attention of clients without me having to spend connects.
- I’ve improved at marketing myself. The chart shows that my interview rate is almost the same as my hire rate. This means when I allow clients to interview me, it’s almost a guarantee I’ll get hired.
Marketing (yourself) is the most important skill any freelancer HAS to acquire. If you can’t market yourself, your chances of getting hired is as good as a coin toss. It doesn’t matter whethere you have low or high rates, if you can’t market yourself as an expert in your field then no client will hire you.
I’ve learned a lot from foreign freelancers – the actual pros who’ve been playing this game for years. They taught me things Filipino freelancers, even the most veteran of veterans, could never have known. Foreigners taught me how to sound strong in the interview stage as well as how to get attention from the proposals when I do apply. They also taught me how to prove the high rates I want to get hired for and why lowballing, the technique a lot of local freelancers use, is considered counterintuitive and even illogical at times.
Yes, there is a time and place for low-bids, but the trick is figuring out WHEN to stop doing it. That’s what separates the newbies from the pros.
- Last but not the least, the chart shows you can win a lot of quality jobs without even trying. As mentioned in no.1, I barely apply anymore. In fact, I haven’t spent a connect in four months. While I do get low views, the ones that do view me are the type of clients that you would not consider an “average” spender. These clients don’t shy away from high rates at all and in fact prefer it as it’s often an indicator of quality and professionalism.
The latest rate I got hired for (as a writer) was $45.55 for hourly and $110.00 per 1000 words for fixed rate. These rates are considered mid-tier compared to Western freelancers, but it’s pretty high to us, right?
How are you as a freelancer?
There are many roads to being a successful freelancer, but many categorize them under just two:
- Low rates, but high volume of work.
- High rates, but low volume of work.
I see it from another perspective:
- A freelancer who is fine working 40+ hours a week.
- A freelancer who prefers to work less than 15 hours a week.
But, what I just showed you is it’s possible to get a lot of work despite a much higher rate. In fact, I’ve been working at least 40 hours a week since the year started and it shows.
…and that’s not including the two private clients I write for.
Before I was earning that amount of money, I was averaging $500-600 a week with just less than 15 hours work, but 2018 just continues to blow my mind!
And if I can do it, so can you. How? It’s simple: Learn from those who ask you to raise your rate than those who force you to lower it. But, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Then again, success isn’t something that is ever handed to you. Reading about tips and advice is one thing, doing it and getting results is another.
Remember: Anyone can work online, but few dare to become known for it.
PS: This blog is the sequel to the first blog I posted
About The Author:
Food Scientist. Fitness and Health Aficionado. Investor. Writer.
Robert James likes to tell people how to grow their money and how to naturally lose body fat. owns Fit And Write, a website catered to his passion to write about health and fitness. His main weapon against weakness is the kettlebell.