How much does a freelancer cost?

Guide to understanding freelancer rates and costs

Knowing how much investment a project is going to need is essential for any business. And in most cases, the majority of that investment is needed for people’s time and effort.

But where it’s relatively simple to quantify a cost for a full time employee, it’s not always as simple as that when hiring a freelancer.

In this guide

Factors to consider when hiring the right freelancer

how much does a freelancer cost

Hourly rates versus project rates

There are two main ways a freelancer will charge for their services.

Time-based rates

Most commonly hourly or daily rates are how freelancers will charge for projects where the deliverable is complex or has an indeterminable scope. For example, SEO or social media management are projects that would be charged by the hour or day.

Project-based rates

Freelancers can charge projects rates, where the cost of a project is linked to its value or worth. For example, an accountant might charge you a fixed cost for filing a tax return.

Good work deserves fair rates

One of the principles behind is good work deserves a fair price. This is the reason we choose to only accept projects from UK-focused businesses who are looking for UK-based freelancers.

To promote this cycle of happy clients posting successful projects completed by motivated freelancers, we only allow projects to be costed/quoted on a time-based basis.

happy freelance marketplace

This encourages two good things:

Estimating freelance rates

Now you understand there are two ways a freelancer can price a project, but chooses to use time-based rates to ensure successful project completion through fair rates, we can start to explore the typical rates freelancers will charge.

1) Start with a full-time equivalent

To get an good estimate of what rates you should expect to pay for a freelancer, a good place to start is what salary you would expect to pay for a full-time equivalent.

For example, here are some example salaries taken from the Office of National Statistics

High demand skills

Please note, the examples above are mean averages across the UK. There are going to be skills and talents in extremely high demand, which takes the cost for these people significantly over the average.

Data: ONS - Employment and Labour Statistics - August 2016

2) Add 30%

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) recommends taking the equivalent earnings as an employee and adding 30%. The extra 30% accounts for the added costs the freelancer has to pay in order to provide their service. Jordan Marshall, policy development manager at IPSE, says: "Whatever your profession, [as a freelancer] you’re responsible for your sick pay, holiday pay, for any equipment you need – and your client [should pay] this premium in return for the flexibility you provide."

For using the above, the full-time equivalent salaries with 30% added are:

IPSE quote -

3) Validate the use of a freelancer

You might be asking, "If a freelancer is 30% more expensive, why don't I just hire a full-time employee?"

It's good question. But there are number of a reasons why remote freelancers are a better option in a lot of cases.

For more help on deciding what projects to outsource, read our guide on what projects you should outsource.

Freelancer rate calculator

Enter the full-time equivalent salary for an expert you need and our calculator will estimate the hourly and day rate you'd be likely to pay.


Cost shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when considering which freelancer to hire

As mentioned at the start of this guide, knowing how much investment a project is going to need is essential for any business.

But the cost isn’t the only factor for judging a project’s success.

The same is true when deciding which freelancer to hire. There are a number of factors to consider:

These are just three factors to consider alongside cost, which picking the best freelancer for your project.

picking the best freelancer - decision matrix

To learn more about making the best freelancer hiring decisions, read our guide to picking the best freelancer.

Other Resources

Resourcing tech projects - A new approach

In this guide, we’ll look at how you can use the right mix of permanent and freelance staff to keep pace with today’s technology demands.

How to reduce the risk of hiring your first freelancer

If you're new to this way of working, outsourcing tasks to a freelancer might feel risky. In this guide, there are some tactics you can use to reduce the risk of hiring a freelancer for the first time.

What is a freelance marketplace?

A marketplace is where sellers and buyers come together to do business. A freelance marketplace is exactly the same, the only difference is in the freelance marketplace, it’s skills and time being traded. See how it works.

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