How to Have the “What’s Your Rate” Talk With a Freelance Client

This one comes from Reddit. A back and forth on raising rates and negotiating rates with your client. This comment, in particular, is what I wanna rap about, today:

“I really recommend this free ebook from the makers of Freshbooks, Breaking the Time Barrier, which is about how important it is as a freelancer to break away from the time model. If you’re only ever selling your time, you’ve set a fixed upper limit for earnings. Instead, realise that people hire you because you add value. If you add 1000 value to a company, through increased sales, reduced costs or a combination or something else, then you are worth up to 999 for doing that.”

And then this response:

“I can understand this if you’re at the top percentile of your craft, or you’re providing something that’s unique or proprietary in the market. Does the book address how competition and supply affect this? For example, if a logo provides a business 1000 in value, and you want to charge 999 but someone else is willing to charge 500, then I’d argue the logo is really only worth 500 and it’s actually the business who is somehow leveraging the logo to capture the additional 500 in value.”

The answer here is the “Category of One” principle.

The idea is to create a unique product or service and then build a brand around it. In my courses, I talk about a company called Potato Parcels. They’ll write any message you want on a potato and send it to any address.

Pretty simple.

Wildly unique.

Probably sounds kind of dumb.

But, it’s a 6-figure per year business. Another is JustFoodForDogs, which is a physical restaurant in California that serves food ONLY for cats and dogs. No “people food” at all. They’re at 5.9M per year.

These both have no competitors.

So, they charge what they want.

Now, do you need to come up with something crazy like this?

Of course not.

The point is spend some time thinking about how you can make your services more unique. If you make logos, what can you do to make your offering different from the 1000s of others who ALSO make logos?

Or, if you build websites.

Take pictures.

Whatever you do… take some time to study your competition and see what they’re doing and what they’re offering. How can you be different? What can you offer that’s unique? What are they missing?

The more unique you become…

Now, you’re not competing with those other providers.

Now, you can decouple your fee from time.

Now, you can price without worrying what they’re doing.

Because, you’re the only one offering what you offer. This is one of the big “secrets” of freelancing and, again, why I push specializing so hard. Constantly push toward being a Category of One…

And, you can virtually write your own check.

That said, you might still be wondering the “how” of all this. Well, in 15 years of freelancing and 10+ of teaching others, I’ve developed a process for honing in on your perfect, unique offer.

And, I teach that in my Freelancing 101: What Services to Offer class. I just walk you step-by-step through figuring what services to offer, how to make them unique and what to charge.

You can get free access to the course over on Skillshare. All the details on the course and how to get free access are here:



P.S. If you have questions about the Skillshare offer, I put up a page here explaining it in full detail:

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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