LifeSciHub was thrilled to recently meet Robert Vlach , author of The Freelance Way and founder of Freelancing.eu– a network of freelancers in Europe. Freelancing.eu is dedicated to supporting and advocating for the independent professional in Europe!
🤗 DEAR FREELANCE FRIENDS
Some time ago, we shared a story of a copywriter Laura Belgray, who created a $1-million business only after she switched from $1,450-per-hour client work to other revenue sources.
Now, if an average freelancer gets $26 per hour of work, I imagine that a fee of $1,000+ may sound outrageous!
In my profession of business consulting, the rates go even higher. Some experts with established contact networks may charge as much as €1,500 to €3,000 per hour. The same may apply to legal services, rare technical skills, etc. And these are no global stars, still.
How can they do it?
Understanding the pricing logic behind these high hourly rates is way more useful than getting frustrated by them. Most freelancers start low, but it’s the growth that matters, and we can learn a thing or two from those who charge more. Here are some interesting characteristics of high-rate professionals:
- They apply and transfer knowledge accumulated over many years, typically as some sort of consulting work. These are decades of experience, tapped and charged per hour.
- They know and use various pricing methods as necessary. In some cases, that high fee might be just a fall-back option.
- They occupy an income space between 6-figures and lower 8-figures annually.
- They tend to work for profitable businesses or larger companies, whose economies of scale allow for cost distribution and hiring expensive experts.
- They are more likely to be hired directly by decision-makers, business owners, and other entrepreneurs or professionals, who value their time greatly (rather than by price-sensitive middle management constrained by purchasing departments).
- They don’t charge these rates 8 hours a day. These experts are more entrepreneurial than average freelancers, running their own ventures and multiple revenue streams. A high fee is then compensation for a time they would otherwise spend to boost their other profits.
- They can measure (or guess) the value created for their clients. If a pricing expert boosts the profit margins of a medium company and its earnings by the millions, there’s a lot of space to charge high. The same goes for an elite lawyer or top security expert preventing costly mistakes.
- They are often recommended by their peers as well as past clients. A high rate is then a defensive one — protecting their precious time against spreading too thin on endless inquiries. (Accept my rate or leave me alone.)
- They usually don’t get their premium clients via Upwork, Fiverr or PPC ads. Opportunities tend to come through established contacts, professional communities and networks of trust. Few sane clients would pay €2,000/hr based on a Facebook ad, but they may be willing to do so if they follow up on a personal recommendation from someone they trust.
- They know who their clients are and that very few prospects would become one. This defines how they pitch themselves. It also shapes their acquisition funnel in order to pick promising premium prospects while offering a cheaper, lower-value service to everyone else (for example, an online course).
- They often reach these high hourly rates by active pricing or upselling their long-term clients, which is something less-entrepreneurial freelancers would almost never do. Once a high fee is validated with one client, it can be taken as an achievable goal with other clients and so on.
- As a rule, they rarely disclose or discuss their hourly rates in public for the benefit of their future business negotiations. One may suspect that this is meant to prevent envy (it may), but a more valid reason is that it enhances much-needed pricing flexibility.
The key takeaway here, I believe, is this:
As freelancers, we should allow ourselves to think of higher fees as an option for the right circumstances, some of which are outlined above. Just leave this option on the table, and don’t discard it for the future.
I am always immediately skeptical of anyone claiming that an hourly rate for freelance work is a bad business practice. It is not. Hourly rate as a pricing method surely has its limits, but freelancing is so diverse that applying one rule of thumb to its countless forms and professions is just dumb.
In some industries, including mine, high hourly rates are established means of exchange for rare expertise, years of experience or access to someone who has many (arguably better) things to do.
That way, you can even hire a former president to give a speech at your event or birthday party — if you have the guts and budget to do so. Entertainers won’t come cheap either. Such as when Robbie Williams reportedly pocketed £1.6 million in 2016 for just one gig at an opulent wedding.
Does this essay inspire you? Would you amend it somehow? In both cases, I would be happy to hear from you — just reply to this email.
Have a great summer and happy freelancing!
❓ HOW MANY FREELANCERS ARE THERE?
Have you ever heard the often-repeated claim that freelancers make up a third of the U.S. workforce? That’s a highly misleading statement based on a super-wide definition of freelance work.
Fiverr’s recent 2021 Freelance Economic Impact Report entitled Sizing the Top Markets for Skilled Freelancers in the U.S. dived into official stats compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. Looking at over 20 million tax returns for non-employer entities with at least $1,000 in annual receipts, they came up with a wholly different number:
“We estimate that there were 6.1 million skilled independent workers in creative, technical, and professional services in the U.S. as of 2020. Altogether, these skilled independents are estimated to earn about 1.1% of the U.S.’s GDP in revenue and make up 3.8% of the civilian labor force.”
🌟 STAR MEMBER: ADAM ZBIEJCZUK
When it comes to social media, it all begins with Adam — namely Adam Zbiejczuk, our new Star Member and the go-to social-media consultant for Central and Eastern Europe. He is one of the best-connected industry experts in the area, but he also works with global companies in mastering LinkedIn for their business. Check out his impressive professional profile, and feel free to connect!
🦇 THE ‘BATMAN EFFECT’
When taking highly challenging tasks, like performing on a big stage or presenting your work to a board of directors, self-distancing by creating an alter ego may help. Just as it helped Beyoncé and Adele to perform on top of their abilities, BBC Worklife explains.
🚀 350 FREELANCE RESOURCES
In July, we have added 40 new items to our expanding list of 350 European freelance platforms, resources, communities, groups, marketplaces, and websites. If you know of any resource that is missing, let us know! The list is especially useful for freelancers looking to expand their professional network in Europe.
🗂 PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
How to read less but get more out of it by Tomas Baranek is a must-read article for all freelance knowledge workers. It touches upon various forms of reading, taking (smart) notes, and even organizing your knowledge using the Zettelkasten system and apps like Roam Research.
📹 CREATORS COLIN AND SAMIR
About Creators, for Creators — that’s a tagline of a superb YouTube channel Colin and Samir co-founded by the two pioneers of creator economy, Colin Rosenblum and Samir Chaudry. They also sent out a regular newsletter for creators at The Publish Press.
📻 ANCHOR.FM PODCASTING
If you want to start a podcast, Anchor by Spotify would arguably be the coolest and easiest solution around. It’s free, including hosting your episodes and their (mostly automated) distribution to Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, etc. The app is great, too — you may produce the whole show on your smartphone in no time.
Note: A more conservative hands-on alternative would be SoundCloud, which is a paid service.
📧 FACEBOOK BULLETIN NEWSLETTERS
Facebook is launching Bulletin.com, a newsletter platform similar to Substack or Revue (owned by Twitter). Quality newsletters are a huge trend, sucking creative professionals and their content out of overcrowded and ever-more-toxic social media networks while also allowing them to earn from subscriptions.
📖 COLIVING GUIDE
Coliving has been a trending buzzword among freelancers, but as a business, it is way more challenging than running a coworking place. For all entrepreneurs interested in the subject, Peter Fabor has created an honest Coliving guide.
💤 GEN-Z GUIDE TO FREELANCING
🎧 A NEW WORLD
“I rarely talk to the old media anymore because it’s just too risky. I wanna talk directly to the public, and it’s been great. This is a new world,” says David Sinclair, one of the world’s best-known scientists, in a bombshell JRE podcast interview on aging and some of his ventures.
The world is changing indeed, and biotech seems to be the next big thing. Read David’s book Lifespan as a practical introduction.
👊 HERE COMES THE LAW
If you are a freelance developer or a small website owner crushed by Big Tech monopolies and their one-sided policies, here is some good news. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and others will be prevented from abusing their dominant position by a set of new U.S. laws, explains David Hansson.
💬 SIGNAL SECURE MESSENGER
Signal is not only one of the most secure messaging apps for work, praised among others by Edward Snowden and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. It also has a desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Linux, enabling users to chat, make video calls, send voice messages and files from both their computer and mobile phone. That offers a substantial productivity boost without sharing mobile’s SMS messages — a good solution from a security point of view.
Note: To keep up with a high level of Signal’s security features, it goes without saying that the computer should also be secured by password, hard-drive encryption, etc.
🤖 THE BEST AI TRANSLATOR?
Little-known European Lindat translator based on Cubbitt models is one of the best in the world — beating both Google and DeepL AI translators, and even passing a “Turing translation test” where its results are indistinguishable from human translation. However, professional human translators are still much better at translating more complex texts.
You can try Lindat online for free to translate between 6 European languages: English, French, German, Russian, Polish, and Czech.
📢 FREELANCE BUSINESS MONTH 2021
Also, if you have anything to share with others, you can now join as a speaker.
👋 EFWEEK #2021
This year’s European Freelancers Week is scheduled for October 18-24, with Freelance Business Month as the executive partner. Anyone can register their event, and the plan is to engage as many coworking places as possible, even though most of the events will happen online.
If we were to vote for the best non-fiction book of the 21st century, our top candidate would be Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. Indeed, perhaps no other book can tell you as much about the real state of the world as this one. What’s more, it prepares you for the future with useful guidelines that put data and facts above typical human errors.
💰 100 BAGGERS
Despite a sensational title, 100 Baggers: Stocks That Return 100-to-1 and How To Find Them by Christopher Mayer turns out to be a well-researched book for value-seeking individual investors. If you favor stock picking over index funds in your portfolio, get it, and you won’t be disappointed.
Note: This is not a get-rich-fast book, quite the opposite. Any strategy based on the author’s conclusions would require hard work and lots of patience.
🐾 STOCKROVER STOCK SCREENER
A geeky tip for individual stock-picking investors that will give you some Awwwwwwww moments: StockRover is an awesome-yet-paid stock screener chosen as #1 in 2021 for buy-and-hold investors by Investopedia. Best of all, you can have 2 weeks for free.
🏨 SOME HOTEL GUY
Do you dream of owning a bed-and-breakfast place or a small hotel, perhaps? Read this brief 35-tweets-long analysis first to wise up a bit.
🎓 THE GREAT COURSES
When it comes to self-education, The Great Courses are a real jewel. Produced by The Teaching Company, they bring over 500 courses from the world’s best English-speaking lecturers — scientists, academics, businessmen, and other experts — into your smartphone.
Every course consists of individual lectures adopted for a popular audience. Each is 20-40 minutes long, which enables a gradual consumption of most complex subjects. You can purchase the courses on the official website and then listen to them using their apps, or you can save by purchasing them with occasional discounts as audiobooks on Amazon’s Audible (now in Summer Learning Sale all at $10 each).
Our 5 suggestions for great Great Courses:
- Steven Novella: Your Deceptive Mind
- Rufus Fears: History of Freedom
- David Livermore: Customs of the World
- John Longo: The Art of Investing
- P. Rosenzweig: The Surveillance State
📘 NA VOĽNEJ NOHE
You can now pre-order the Slovak edition of The Freelance Way from Absynt as Na voľnej nohe. Absynt is arguably the best non-fiction publisher in Slovakia. Its founders, Juraj Koudela and Filip Ostrowski, both went freelance to pursue their calling.
The Freelance Way has also been recently acquired by HarperCollins to be published in India and the whole Indian subcontinent in January 2021.
Curated by Robert Vlach and Daniel Sacha from the Freelancing.eu community (we welcome your suggestions).
More news: https://freelancing.eu/news/