For 4 years, I’ve been a freelance web developer (and occasional designer). I’ve loved almost every second of it. But as every freelancer has done at some point in their lives, I joined Upwork and Freelancer, dubbing me one of ‘them’.

I was one of those freelancers that fought like savages for a clients work. I would bid obscenely low prices for jobs that were worth plenty more. Charging lower than the real worth of a project is not okay. On top of this, these platforms take massive fees of up to 20% out of your earnings. Firstly, you are a human. You need to survive. And something tells me that being paid $50 to develop a full-stack website with a WordPress CMS and fireworks shooting out of the browser (RIP flash) is not enough to compensate your time.

It’s so important to set your fees appropriately to reflect the quality of your work and the basic cost of your time. If you consider that agencies charge on average £700 ($900) a day, you will not need to charge anywhere near this. They have to cover costs of rent, staff salaries, beer Friday’s and other business essentials. However, you do need to take into account your overheads. For example, you may need to pay rent, travel, stationary, a brand new iMac with Retina Display (because you can). Your overheads are your first stop when setting your rates.

The bulk of your fees will be covering the hours you spend on the project (billables). For example, if you are a web developer you need to record how many hours you spend coding the site. You’ll also need to record how many hours you spend doing admin such as invoicing. Be sure to take into account these extra billables when setting your rates.

You’ll also need to consider how much money you want. The profit you make is something you can enjoy. However, be careful when you consider this — you don’t want to be greedy and put off a client. Speaking of putting off clients, this is the main issue freelancers on Upwork have. They are paranoid about scaring off the client by charging even half of what they should do because of how little their peers are charging. You shouldn’t have to be made to feel like this. Good clients will pay for your quality of work. Make sure you set your prices to reflect your quality, the time you will work and the extra overheads involved.

It really is not healthy for you or your career by charging low prices to clients. And you will only come across these kinds of situations amongst crowdsourcing communities like Upwork. This is why it’s vital for clients to come direct to freelancers. This way they know that you are a quality freelancer and you can then charge higher prices (that are reasonable) very comfortably. And can you guess what the outcome is? The client accepts.

These thoughts are the premise behind my side-project — The Freelancer Database. It’s a platform that directly connects clients with freelancers. Freelancers are charged a small, fixed amount a month and clients contact them by hitting the email button on their profile — direct, simple and low cost. It also sets up the opportunity for higher quality work to be requested and produced. My main mission is to put the freelance economy in the right direction, away from unfair prices and low quality.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic. I’d love to know if anyone can relate to me on this. If you’ve joined the database, let me know your thoughts on that. It’s been a few months in the making and the response so far has been great.