Freelancers set their own rates, constantly balancing the need to make money and get paid what we’re worth (see: What are you worth ) against the need to be competitive. Clients then decide if they wish to pay from the quote or negotiate.
Sometimes I (and friends) choose to take less than we think a job should pay. Perhaps it’s outside our wheelhouse, and we want the experience or something for our reel/portfolio. We may want to work for certain clients or industry professionals in the hope of getting future work. And if we don’t take that low paying job, someone else will.
On the other hand, clients should trust that we’re billing fairly and appropriately. I recently did an hourly VO job from home via an agent. When I sent in my voucher, they had to be confident I wasn’t padding my time…like in olden days, when a butcher might be accused of putting his thumb on the scale to add weight. Building a reputation for trustworthiness takes time.
We may offer volume rates for multiple projects or repeat business, or special rates for friends/acqaintances. An attorney I’ve known for years inquired about my freelance writing rates. I offered a lower rate based on our long acquaintance. He asked more billing questions than any client I’ve had thus far (so both of us were spending unpaid time responding), and wanted to know if I used a time tracking program (like attorneys do). I don’t. Agents and other clients trust me, I assumed a friend would, too.
Employers can’t know what an employee is doing every minute of every day. Is the person working diligently and to capacity, or getting the bare minumum done and frittering away hours taking long breaks or trolling the Internet? Unless clients/employers set up surveillance cameras (and then spend an awful lot of their time monitoring), how can they be sure if their time use expectations are being met? Trust. Professionalism.
But some people just aren’t as trustworthy as others…which comes to light eventually (see: Liar, liar). If a reputation for trustworthiness has been tarnished or broken, if clients/employers have doubts because a worker turns in projects late or at the last minute, for example, there are always more freelancers in the sea.