Rate sheets are widely used in various service industries with interpreting being the outlier. We’re often reduced by agencies to their budget but when you really consider how the industry should and has worked in the past, it deteriorates our worth as professionals.
When working as a freelancer directly with clients as opposed to through an agency you’ll find yourself often answering the same question: what’s your rate for ______? As so much of our work can change the amount of effort, preparation and time required – you’ll want a concise way of providing a rate to your clients that is reliable. A rate sheet can provide a specific cost for individual categories of work without the need to answer multiple emails back and forth.
So what is it?
A rate sheet is essentially a menu for the types of services you offer along with accompanying billing structures and rates. For example, you might find an hourly rate of $60 for business meetings but a conference rate of $800 daily on the same sheet. This indicates to the client that some work is different than others and as such, is billed at a different rate and structure. While it it largely used as a way to communicate the costs of services, a rate sheet can also offer context to how your time might be impacted by varying requests.
Rate sheets are tools that can help you cement a deal and acquire new clients.
When a client (especially a recurring one) needs to book you, it should be easy and sensical. The vast majority of consumers wouldn’t agree to purchase something before they knew the cost and certainly would prefer to shop around when time permits. By providing a rate sheet, you’re reducing the amount of conversation surrounding rate and cost (usually), which gives you more time to work on establishing new business. It’s also a fantastic document to use when cold calling. If a potential client already has your rates, they need to do much less research into competing rates when a need for services arises.
Having a rate sheet in the hands of a client establishes three things:
They can pick and choose the service
They know what to expect
That you have a relationship with them (even when you don’t)
Time and time again I’ve had clients book me simply because they had my rate sheet on file. I certainly was not the most cost efficient. If anything, I was probably harder to book considering I had to be contacted directly and paid higher. Having a rate sheet made all the difference. I’ve also found clients reaching out to me with my rate sheet already in their email from another client who referred me. It isn’t always ideal but for the vast majority of referrals that have come to me knowing my rates, the difference I would have adjusted with an update to the rates is minuscule at best.
A rate sheet supplements a contract
By providing the rates in an additional document attached to your contract you can wrap your costs into the signed agreement making the scope of work more broad. Without limiting yourself to one specific structure, you won’t need to send adjusted service agreements as often. For example: If I’m being booked for a day of conference work by a client who likes my work and wants to hire me ongoing for 4 hours every Monday, those structures are very different. I don’t need to write up a separate contract if I’ve already provided them with the menu and they agree. The downside being that some clients want to keep the “old deal” years into the contract when you need more. However raising your rate requires far less effort than rewriting agreements for every slight change.
Rate sheets look different to everyone but below are a couple examples you might want to consider when creating your own.
I used this template for literal years and still do.