As many of us began working from home as a result of area “safer at home” directives, some women are leaning into the freelance market as a more long-term option. If you do make the decision to be your own boss, it’s then time to navigate the waters of the day-to-day, especially landing on a system of pricing yourself.

Most women, especially those of us raised in the South, were taught to help others whenever possible. We bend ourselves backward to please everyone, often devaluing our time and experience in the process. Unfortunately, this happens to those in freelance professions as well, and we feel funny asking people to compensate us for our time.

Charging others for our work is a tricky balance between asking so much that you turn people away and asking so little that you attract the wrong clientele or worse, make less than you deserve. So, what’s the best approach?

Hourly Rate vs. Fixed-Rate Pricing?

While there are certainly advantages of hourly-rate pricing (ease of calculation, learning your speed, flexibility to charge more), a project-based approach might be best. A client may be more likely to pay you a $500 fixed rate for a project you can complete in two hours but might cringe at a $250 per hour rate. Think of it not as being paid for your time but for the value your experience and expertise adds to the project.

Ask the Right Questions

There’s a lot to be learned from a potential client at an initial meeting. You can get a feel for what they might be like to work with, their style and image they want to project, and most importantly, their budget. Once you quote your price, it might be beneficial to provide different price points or level-based pricing depending on the scope. That way, if you have to add on an additional service later, you can…for a price.

Know what You Offer

English advertising consultant Cindy Gallop says about pricing yourself, “Say the highest number you can without laughing out loud.” Your rate should make you feel valued and empowered, not like someone got away with something. When you’re confident with your proposal, it demonstrates to the prospective client that you have confidence in your work, instilling confidence in them that you’re the right person for the job.

As with most things in our professional (and personal) lives, there’s no right or wrong answer and no cut-and-dry formula. Price wars often lead to a race to the bottom, and you’re unlikely to win. Consider instead what makes you different from your competitors. Do you have unique experience? Are you more flexible? Do you have a better response time? All of the factors that keep you coming back to your favorite vendors are the same ones that will keep your clients coming back to you.