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freelance

Link Roundup #31: 10 Things to Know This Week

Accelerate your personal finance knowledge with this regular feature on Ringgit Oh Ringgit – the Link Roundup! I promise you’ll find these 10 links informational 🙂

1. How to Sell Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anybody, According to Scientists and Sales Gurus – Inc

The ‘the single most essential insight culled from over 15 years of interviews with over 100 experts with thousands of years of cumulative experience’ boils down to:

  1. Create trust
  2. Link what you’re selling to the customer’s desires
  3. Ask for a decision

How you put these three steps into action varies according to industry and medium and so many other factors, but there you go.

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How to Charge Clients: 5 Methods Freelancers Can Use

One of the questions I regularly get from friends and readers who do freelance work is, “Suraya, a client is interested in my services. How much should I charge them?”

I’m still learning myself, but let me share what I know. Here are five methods you can use to figure out how to charge your clients. This guide is suitable for freelancers who sell services like writing, designing, consulting, etc, not products.

Please comment if you have additional info to add!

Method #1 – Get the client to make an offer

This is a favourite method of mine – I use it whenever I can, especially if the request is slightly different from usual and I have no idea what’s considered a ‘fair’ compensation for it. Your conversation might go something like this:

  • Client: Hi, how much do you charge for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). My rates are flexible and I am happy to receive an offer on your end.
  • Client: Great! We typically pay [amount]

Four things can happen here: the client gives you a better-than-expected rate (I’ve had this happen a few times), the client gives you an okay rate (good), the client gives you a low rate (not good obv), or the client insists on getting your rates (see other methods). What you can reply back:

  • Better-than expected rate: Great, that is more or less my usual rate
  • Okay rate: Great, I accept the offer
  • Low rate: I’m sorry, but that is below my usual rate. My usual rate is [higher-than-usual amount]. Can we meet in the middle and settle on [a lower amount that is worth your time]?

My assumption is you’re not desperate for the work. If you are, and you will work for the lower rate just to make ends meet for now, go ahead and accept the offer. I respect your hustle.

Method #2 – Ask fellow freelancers in the same or similar fields

If the client insists on getting your rates and won’t make an offer, then what you can do is ask your peers. I offer writing services, so my information is biased for this field, but I’ve seen people in writing-related FB groups ask how much to charge:

  • Per word, page or project
  • For editing, proofreading, translating, speech-writing etc
  • For website, brochures, newsletters, articles, reports etc
  • Across different industries and niches
  • And more

So you can see how varied the rates can be – no wonder setting them is a hard process for new freelancers! If you’re lucky enough to get replies from your contacts, you can use the rates as a benchmark. Eventually, you’ll want to set your own rates (we’ll get to that in Method #4).

It’s a good idea to start joining groups related to your field now, even if you’re just starting out. Share information and be helpful when you can. Start cultivating those relationships early. Freelancing tends to be a solo activity, but it doesn’t have to be.

Method #3 – Find out the market rate

I personally don’t like this method but sometimes you have to research (read: Google) the market rate because your fellow freelancers won’t tell you their rates and you’re in a rush and need to answer your client soon.

‘Market rate’ ranges so much between platforms, specialisations and many other factors that it’s hard to pick which rates are the ‘right’ one when you Google them online.

You may also see lots of people charging extremely low prices, which might demotivate you. When I first started, I thought I was overcharging at $20 per article after seeing many writers on the same freelancing platform charging just $1 for each article!

Note: worth mentioning – some clients picked me anyway despite technically costing 20x more. You won’t get good articles for that low a price, I assure you.

Having personally used this method, I don’t recommend it at all. Maybe this method will work better for other industries outside of writing services? I don’t know tbh, comment if the industry you’re in follows standard rates.

Method #4 – Calculate your own rates

Some people would advise this method first, before everything else presented in this list. Sure, if it works for you. It’s just incredibly hard. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now and STILL sometimes have no idea what is my own rate.

Method #4 forces you to think of how much you value your time, and heck that’s a hard process for the soul.

I remember Tina Isaac’s advice here (she’s one of the core members of Malaysian Writers Society). In a workshop I attended, she said this regarding rates-setting:

Work backwards. How much do you want to earn from freelancing per month? How many hours can you dedicate to it?

Say you want to earn RM4000, and you work 40 hours per week, that means your hourly rate is RM25 (RM4000 divide by 160 hours). If the project takes about 10 hours to complete, then charge RM25 x 10 = RM250.

That sounds simple right? Straightforward. However, from my own research, I’ve seen both advocates and haters of this particular method. It’s fair to highlight haters’ arguments too:

  • You’re limiting your earning potential because you’re already capping your income
  • You’re not paid for admin work essential in running your business – getting leads, answering emails, etc

Valid points too. Well let’s not choose sides. If you lean towards this method, you can give yourself a high monthly income and include admin hours when billing clients.

Method#5 – Just pull a number out of your ass

I’ve used this method, and, uh, I have to say, it’s strangely effective, if somewhat risky. Let me explain.

  • Client: Hi, what is your rate for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). The total cost of the project is [amount that is favourable for me].

From here on, there are three possible outcomes: client agrees, client negotiates, or client ghosts you.

  • Client agrees: Great! Now you know you can charge this rate and get away with it. Next time you can use this as the benchmark, or maybe even quote a higher amount.
  • Client negotiates: Good, at least you know this type of work with this specific client cannot fetch this rate. Depending on the counter-offer process and the final rate the client is willing to pay, I may or may not proceed with the job
  • Client ghosts you: If you want the job, follow up in a couple of days. Sometimes they really did miss your email.

This method works best if you can show the client how solution-oriented you are. Here you’re selling efficiency and quality, not just your time. It’s a good idea to send a combination of your work samples, testimonials and qualifications to back up your claims. “Here’s how I solved a similar problem in the past” works way better than “I can do x”.

Conclusion

There you go. Five methods you can use to figure out how much to charge your clients when they are interested in working with you. Established freelancers, which of these methods works best for you? Or do you use another way? Share in the comments section 🙂

On a separate but related note, what else do you want to know about freelancing? Let me know and I may turn it into a guide! Make sure to read other self-employment slash freelancing guides I have here at Ringgit Oh Ringgit too!

Must-Have Financial Tools to Make Freelancing in Malaysia Easier

 freelancing in malaysia

Freelancing in Malaysia is not hard, but I think there is a steep learning curve when it comes to managing finances. Based on the conversations I’ve had, many freelancers in Malaysia have a ‘whatever works’ system. This leads to many undesirable side-effects, like:

  • Losing money to ridiculous fees
  • Lack of protection and recourse for clients who don’t pay
  • Indirect loss of income due to perceived lack of professionalism image

It’s hard to write about the complete range of tools that is needed for every freelancer in Malaysia. Some of you are freelance writers, freelance graphic designers, freelance artists. Some of you may freelance with companies like Uber, part-time as insurance/unit trust agents, do promoter-type work for events, or even MLM-type ‘business opportunities’.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the must-have financial tools for online-based freelancing jobs, but the tools can be handy for anyone freelancing in Malaysia.

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Incomes and Expenses of a Freelance Writer in Malaysia

freelance writer in malaysia

Note: To quickly see my writing services and get a quotation, please click here.

Being a freelance writer was not something I planned. Yet, somehow, here I am, making ends meet with nothing more than my laptop, internet access, and some brain power.

I won’t bore you with pros and cons of being a freelancer (yes, I do get to work in my pyjamas), but I do want to talk about the income and expenses side of it. After searching online, I realised there aren’t many resources for Malaysian freelance writers. So I’m making one to share with you.

So if you are a freelance writer in Malaysia, or if you want to become one to make some side income, here are some finance-related information about incomes and expenses that you should know about.

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