Today is labor day. And what has a freelance programmer got to say about this issue since he works for no boss? Nice question. I am not writing this blog to rant about a client who paid me below the market price value of my service. No, I’m not going to do that. This lonely freelance programmer from Davao, Philippines has learned the consequences of pricing his services much lower than the competition and has paid dearly for that. Time to shut up, move on, and etch the lesson in the heart.
Instead, I am going to write about the beauty of freelancing and how it avoids the perennial problem faced by a large number of employees and magnified during the Labor Day.
A Freelancer Don’t Join No Labor Rally
The nice thing about being a freelancer is that you are not likely join a Labor Rally that is normally held during Labor Day in all parts of the Philippines. You don’t have an employer inviting you to join the parade to show to the crowd that you are happily satisfied with your salary and that your kids will not really care if you render overtime everyday. You are not even a member of anyone’s labor union whose main reason for existing is to advance some hidden political agenda.
If you are a freelancer and you happen to join one of those Labor Rallies, well shame on you! You don’t deserve to be called a freelancer. You have not really activated enough brain neurons to realize of the futility of your efforts. And aahhh, you might say, “But I am doing this on behalf of the helpless labor force of the Philippines abused by the so called capitalists.” Well, my hero, congratulations! I hope to see you on TV tonight. And would you care doing a Google on the word “capitalism” please?
A Freelancer Doesn’t Beg for His Service Fees
Pricing a service is one of the hardest thing to do if you are a freelancer. This is especially true in a relatively new field that is not yet overcrowded (like programming, SEO, blogging) and one where there is no known metrics to follow. A freelance programmer usually estimates the amount of time he spends doing the task and multiplies it with his hourly rate, plus-minus other factors-too-numerous-to-mention. Established fields like Architecture and Civil Engineering follow a set of guidelines they themselves agreed. In any case, the service fee is either accepted or negotiated but it is never begged. A number of factors come into play when negotiating for the price including competition, track record, experience, quality, etc. Pricing a service too high could mean that the other guy (read, competitor) will get a chance to close the deal. Pricing it too low could mean that he has to cook noodles for his meals and stay that way for the next couple of days.
There is no Labor Department to go to when you undercharge a deal. You can’t call on Mr. Mayor to complain about your predicament. The best you can do in such a case is — as I have already mentioned in the first paragraph — to shut up, move on, and etch the lesson in the heart.
From the desk of a freelance programmer in Davao, Philippines, I’d like to greet everyone a Happy Labor’s Day.