Brighton freelancers meet on 13th September 2023

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For this Wednesday we met in the Battle of Trafalgar pub in Brighton, inside as the weather wasn’t great. 21 people attended.

Some of our topics of conversation:

  • Clients trying to get you to sign contracts with impossible clauses
  • What’s the current freelance market like?
  • PHP Sussex on YouTube
  • UK work being affected by the writers strike in the USA
  • Correctly describing what a startup does in a way that appeals to customers
  • O2 data in Brighton is getting to be unusable
  • Finding work
  • Working for multiple clients in one day is hard – what’s your limit?
  • Multiple clients are better than one (really, a must)
  • Having a rental property is much better if it is close to where you live
  • The strange effectiveness of networking
  • Networking as an introvert
  • How do you set your rate?
  • The good and bad of working for startups as a freelancer
  • Covid boosters
  • AI influenced artwork vs human influenced artwork
  • Advanced theming in WordPress


How do you set your rate?

This week a perennial question came up: how do you decide how much to charge?

There’s a complicated version of this which takes into account how many days you can expect to work as a freelancer (spoilers: it’s unlikely to be the 240 work days in a year at first, even if you’re lucky), how much tax you would need to pay, and balancing that against what you need to earn to survive (and more, retirement is a thing and you need to save for it.) Here’s the simple, short version:

Do not base what you charge on what you were earning as a full time employee. That included hidden costs that you are now liable for: taxes, marketing, sales and admin that needs doing. Someone else was keeping you topped up with work there, when you are self employed that is your responsibility.

Look at contract jobs on Indeed in your area. Download the YunoJuno Freelancer Rates Survey results. Compare both of these things to what you do and the experience you have.

Then come to the Farm and ask everyone, this is best done late enough that peple have had one or two drinks and are happy to talk about money. A big problem in the UK is people won’t talk about what they earn/charge, alcohol gets past that and it was a reason the group that became the Farm got together in the first place. It gets a bit complicated. Say you’re a web developer, I would suggest a bare minimum for freelancing in Brighton would be £180-200 a day, experienced and good developers can get £550-600 a day. Where you could fall within that involves a lot of factors that are easier to talk about in person than writing it up.

Multiple clients

As a freelancer, it is a very good idea to have more than one client project on at a time. It is the best defence against an awkward person at a client causing a bad situation, e.g. late payment due to accounts staff changing or delaying payment due to internal factors, you losing your work due to a manager changing and wanting new people involved – this happens far more often than it should.

Having only one client radically raises your chances of going out of business when the situation inevitably changes. Also, relying on one client for a long time means you get out of the habit (or never into the habit) of marketing your services and landing new work, so when that relationship is finally over, you’re at a loss of how to get new work.

The more clients you can juggle, the safer you tend to be. Billing multiple clients means most are bound to pay on time. However, getting the work done can be harder.

Some freelancers like to concentrate on one project at a time. That is fine if the projects are short, but not if they are long as we get into the same problems of not marketing yourself enough. So, while you’re working for a client it is important to reserve some time and find another client to fill it, or potentially multiple clients.

When you have more than one project on, you need to handle getting work done on all of them. For some people this means reserving solid time on each, potentially a day or more a week for each project. Have something big on? 3-4 days for them, the rest of the time for your smaller projects.

If you work on more than one project in a day, remember that there is ramping up time for each different project. For some people, this is a struggle, for others it’s easy. Work out where you are on this scale as you actually do the work, don’t just imagine you’re one way or the other. At one point I could easily switch between three client projects in a day, getting useful work done on each. Now, I struggle to do that and like to keep it down to two at a maximum. So, I structure what I expect to do in a day based around that.

When working if you find you’re very tired at the end of each day, and especially getting burned out by the end of the week or fortnight, try restructuring your days and switching project less. One freelancer along this week was doing work for up to five clients a day and while that’s great for spreading out among different projects, it’s also hard on your mind, as he was finding.

Remember that you are in control of your days and can structure them how works for you, not anyone else. Don’t burn yourself out trying to please people, you’ll find they’ll be a lot happier long term if you’re able to do the work for them over that long term.