Determining if a freelancer’s rate is fairly set

Engagements with independent tech experts can genuinely be a lucrative thing for both sides involved. By finding the best tech expert for your needs (and an expert in their field) you can grow your business, and they in turn, can also make their earnings. But, questioning how the rates are set is more than justified. You can make those puzzling thoughts more concise and decide whether to splurge on the tech experts (a bit too much) or not.

Our tips below can clarify price settings in the various industries, what influences those prices, and whether you pay a fair amount to the shortlisted experts.

What can you do to see if freelancers give you a fair rate?

As mentioned, research and comparison is a great starting point. Whether we’re talking about the tech expert, service provider, or employer, in-depth research into a specific industry (on as many job boards and services as possible) will clarify a lot for you. You’ll have an idea of what cost you should expect if you compare, let’s say, a few expert developers and a few novice junior ones. Consider the specific industry as needed, but you get the gist of it already.

We saw the listed factors above that determine the rates, but if we need to narrow down to a few for you to focus most on, then:

Research and compare others on the market

I cannot stress this enough, but the comparison is vital. It is the strongest indicator of rate-setting when you don’t have the most apparent perspective amid it all. If you look at others like you in your industry, you can look at the tech experts they have hired, however it resonates for you in the best way. From here on out, you can also conclude what competitors accept as rates and what they are able to give and agree to.

The other scenario is where you compare the best developer candidates that got your attention before engaging with them about work. Are they all long-time experts? How much do their rates vary from one another, and why? All these answers will present themselves once you start comparing.

Review their past experience

The past work success is based on the past clients the tech expert worked with.

Were the past clients big renowned brands? Is there a repetitive niche throughout the clients’ engagements? Does the type of clients reflect a particular expertise that makes even a high rate acceptable now?

Consider your industry

Once you browse through the industries, you’ll see which are the most and which are the least popular out of that tech expert's portfolio. For example, the tech industry will become even more interested in freelancing services than it is already (a lot!).

In the most frequent and widespread industries, tech experts with the highest rates indeed have good and proven portfolios and robust, solid experience. Because, after all, to stand out in a talent pool of many others would justify the (likely higher) rate on their end.

Check out your competitors in the same industry, what everyone does online, and see what kind of independent devs they regularly engage with and at what rates too. Surely precise information of this type won’t be as transparent on companies’ websites, as opposed to some services' websites and job platforms – most of the time.

Review the complexity and deadlines of the tasks

If you need the tech expert to work urgently on the engagement, then be prepared to pay a higher rate than the originally agreed upon price. Keep in mind that the engagement's urgency drastically changes the rate, depending on the industry itself too.

The amount of time required for finishing a large and complex engagement is a crucial rate-setting factor. Rush fees are added to the fixed, agreed upon fees because great work done urgently should not come at a low price. Usually, a reasonable sum for median complexity engagements is around 30% above the initial rate. For incredibly complex and equally urgent tasks, sometimes the extra fee could reach (almost) a 100% increase.

Invite them to interview

While researching the usual rates out there, it doesn’t hurt to look into considering a tech expert like this permanently. It’s like getting two birds with one stone, and the hiring dilemma resolves itself. Since you need to engage a tech expert, and know where your money goes, select only those that seem to have the best qualifications. Send a few interview invites, and you’ll have an idea of what a fair rate really is.

How do independent tech experts set their rates?

With independent tech services, there are no specific or fixed work hours. They determine their work hours and the amount of work they can take on. So, the way they charge clients does not just depend on one factor.

Every such developer starts off with research about the expected rates and compensation. A good start is seeing what others do – junior and senior developers offer different rates, varying between the fields of expertise, years of experience, and different industries.

In this type of research, let them predominantly determine the range of a rate. Job boards and platforms show countless profiles of independent tech experts, fixed rates, hourly rates, daily rates, and so on, and just by browsing through these profiles/rates in a specific industry, we can get a clear picture of how rates are set exactly.

For example, the following factors are strongly influencing the (hourly) rates:

  • Location
  • Expertise
  • Industry
  • Demand for that skill
  • Market competition
  • Track record/experience
  • User reviews
  • Portfolio
  • Availability
  • Engagement urgency

The takeaway

One thing is always certain, you cannot just jump in and accept the first rate you hear before exploring more. Also, splurging is fair in urgent engagements with tight deadlines.

Explore the market, look into the various tech industries, and compare rates while choosing which tech expert provides the best quality. Comparisons in the market (and rates) are crucial to consider, but so is the relevance/demand of the industry.

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