Set freelance rates like a boss in Spain

James McKenna
Written by James McKenna
on febrero 14, 2023 9 min of reading

Congrats! We can assume you’re already a registered freelancer in Spain and you’ve maybe done a few jobs already, but one question keeps bugging you: How do you set freelance rates that are both competitive and profitable? 

With no industry pricing guidelines and no experience setting rates as a freelancer in Spain, it’s not unusual to feel a bit lost at sea. Now, we don’t need to tell you that this is a bit of an issue. Determining freelance rates that are appealing both to your clients and your bank balance is a fine art that can make or break your career. 

Well here’s the good news (kinda). 

There’s no secret sauce that you haven’t heard about, as much as the clickbait sites try to convince you. A lot of the process is trial and error, but in this article, we’ll take you through a bunch of freelance pricing tips that will give you the confidence to write up quotes that work for you. 

We’ll look at the challenges of setting prices, explore the averages of a bunch of industries and give you the best freelance rate practices to guide your solopreneur career.

Challenges when setting rates as a freelancer in Spain

Before we get into the juicy tips, we’re first going to point out a few hazards you might fall into along the way — so pay attention!

Competition with your rivals

The first challenge you’ll face when you set freelance rates comes from the competition you face from others in your industry. Unless you’ve got a monopoly, there will be someone willing to drop their prices to undercut you and secure your clients. Research your market so you don’t put customers off by charging too much — or ripping yourself off by charging too little.

No standardization of freelance rates

Another issue for almost all self-employed workers is that there’s no freelance market rate. In jobs like taxi driving, you get industry pricing standards from the town hall (which is why taxi drivers are so against the arrival of unregulated competition). But for pretty much any other job, you’ll have to discover your own rates. 

A lack of market knowledge

Unlike day-to-day purchases like food, Average Joe has no idea how much most services like social media strategizing costs. Consequently, if you don’t have years of experience in your field, it’s unlikely that you’ll know what you should charge either. 

Sure, you can ask to see what others are charging. But people in online groups on Reddit or Facebook (if anyone’s still using that) are notoriously quiet on how they set freelance rates. 

Freelance rates by industry in Spain:

Hey there, this might have been what you were looking for all along. Some lovely ballpark figures that you can look to when determining freelance rates. These have been compared and compiled from a range of freelancer websites based in Spain, such as Upwork and Fiverr. 

But first, a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • If the freelance market rate looks low, remember we’re dealing with Spain here. We don’t have Swiss-style wages here, but you won’t have to take out a loan to eat at a mid-range restaurant, so there’s that. 
  • These rates can only ever be rough estimates. Aspects like experience, market demand, location, client budget will determine the price you can set personally.

Graphic designers: €15 to €25 per hour

Graphic designers are involved in every conversation about freelancers, and it’s a great life to lead. Working from anywhere and scratching that creative itch — who would say no to that?

Freelancer graphic designers should expect to earn around €15 to €25 per hour in Spain.

We would recommend being bold in your negotiations. If you don’t value your work highly, no client will. As another tip for graphic designers, you’ll stand a better chance at convincing clients to pay top dollar if you have a professional-looking portfolio where you strut your stuff.

Copywriter: €15 to €25 per hour

Copywriters have a similar advantage to graphic designers as they can work from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s no surprise then that they’re in the same earning range too — around €15 to €25 per hour.

However, if you find a high-paying niche, such as biotech, finance, or legal texts, you can start really amping up your prices. Many clients will expect copywriters to crossover with content writing, so work out your rate per word too.

Web designer: €20 to €35 per hour

Web designers are in hot demand at the moment as it’s a skill that many companies can’t cover in-house. You don’t need any special equipment, so €20 to €35 per hour is a pretty good wage to be earning as a freelancer in Spain.

Due to the nature of the tech industry, web designers are more likely to be hired on a full-time freelance basis. In return for the continuous, guaranteed work, most clients will reduce the hourly rate. 

Top tip: if you want to live and work in Spain with a foreign client, check out our article on the Digital Nomad Visa to see how to move the easy way. 

Photographer: €20 to €50 per hour

With photographers, we’re entering the territory of serious project-based work. An in-house photography job is like gold dust, and that inconsistency of work is why photographers can charge more than writers and designers, around €20 to €50 per hour

Please please please don’t forget that you have to charge for your homework too. You might spend three hours face-to-face with clients, but the travel time and costs, as well as editing time, need to be included too. That’s why most photographers and videographers will set a daily rate of around €200, plus expenses.

Steps to set freelance rates

Some parts of freelance life just ain’t that fun, and working out your rates fits into that category. But if you slap a smile on your face and put on some chill bossa nova, you can bash this task out in one afternoon.

After following these steps, it’s time to pick a number. Don’t worry too much if this is “correct” or not at this stage. You’ll gradually work that out through interactions with clients. 

1. Work out your expenses

Let’s say your expenses and target savings add up to €1500 per month. Excellent. You’ve just got to work one hour at a rate of €1500 per hour! Good for you if you can charge that, but back in the real world, that €1500 is the target you’ve got to hit or exceed over all the hours you work. 

2. Determine the market rate for your services

You know already that there’s no perfect average for your market, but you can get a feel for what your competitors are charging. As you gain experience in your field, you’ll soon spot patterns in what you can expect from clients. 

Remember that you can do the same task — say web design — for both a restaurant and a tech multinational. One of these will be willing to pay more than the other 😉.

3. Assess your skills and experience

Forget what your parents told you. Sometimes you have to compare yourself to others. Do you have qualifications they don’t? Have you got a super-specific degree or a bunch of years experience? All of these bonuses allow you to confidently raise your rates.

4. Be prepared to negotiate

We’ve got a few tips for negotiation, but there’s no replacement for confidence.

Remember that your minimum rate is just that — minimum. When asked for a quote, you should always start high, and even if you’re pulled down slightly, you’re still above that minimum and making a profit. 

You’ll often come across clients who try to low-ball you, especially at the start of your career. Sure, sometimes you’ll really need the money, but if you feel you’re being taken for a ride, offer a polite but firm rejection and suggest a more…ahem…acceptable offer. If you get the same treatment again and again, it’s time to say goodbye. 

Clients that offer repeated work, or even put you on a retainer, will often ask for a nice little discount in return. This isn’t out of the ordinary, but do your calculations before deciding if you accept or not. 

5. Review and adjust your rates as needed

If literally nobody is accepting your pricing, it’s time to lower them unfortunately. But on the bright side, as you gather experience, it’s totally normal to increase your rates. Once you’ve got a lot of traffic coming in, you can use your rates as a benchmark to select which clients you work with and which you turn down. 

Freelance pricing methods: Project, hourly, and value

As a freelancer, there’s no company cash cow to squeeze when times get tough. That means you need to earn enough to cover your lifestyle, which takes 

Start by monitoring your monthly spends to see how much you actually spend in total. This includes rent, food, business expenses — the lot. Don’t make excuses that the dress or pair of sneakers you bought last month was “just a treat”. You’ve got to be honest with yourself on this one. 

But there’s more. You don’t just want to break even at the end of every month, you want a profit, so add in how much you aim to save too.

The resulting figure is your monthly target that your rates need to help you hit. With that said, let’s look at the different pricing methods.

Hourly rate pricing

Coming in at the most basic end of freelance pricing methods is the trusty hourly rate. It’s quite simple at first glance — enough to cover your expenses and provide a reasonable profit margin.

You can work out your hourly rate by dividing your monthly target by the amount of hours you want to work. But remember, if you don’t receive enough hours, you aren’t going to hit your target. That’s why many freelancers add a little extra to their hourly rate as a personal insurance policy. 

Your hourly rate is essentially how much an hour of your time is worth to you. By setting a minimum, you can easily decide whether a job is worth taking on, or if the time spent doing it is more valuable than the payout you get for it. 

Project-based pricing

Project-based pricing may be the most common type of freelance rate, but it’s not easy. You’ve first got to fully understand the scope of your project, then break it down into the individual tasks. Let’s take wedding photography as an example (awww cute, we know):

  • Meeting the couple and planning the scope
  • Pre-wedding preparation
  • Photos at the event itself
  • Editing the photos and sending them to the couple
  • Inevitable changes from the couple
  • Transport between all of the above tasks

Once you’ve calculated the hours taken for these tasks, multiply them by your hourly rate and there you have it! 

Clearly, correctly predicting the time taken on all of these tasks can be complex, so it’s best to overestimate than underestimate. Every newbie freelancer has a horror story of underestimating a project and finding themselves lost in a web of deadlines and midnight Red Bulls. 

Value-based pricing

Calling all celebrities! Value-based pricing is based on the X-factor you can bring to proceedings. You might have a unique singing voice or maybe you’ve smashed a million followers on TikTok. These qualities allow you to step outside the box and charge a custom fee. 

So does simply being available at the right time. 

It’s not uncommon for clients to need a rush job done, which really puts the ball in your court. So if you’re ready to do something urgently, don’t be afraid to inflate your price.

8 top tips to set freelance rates that work for you

As we said at the top of the piece, a lot of this work is earned through experience. But these seven freelance pricing tips will help you fast-forward your learning curve so you can start reaping the rewards sooner:

1. Don’t neglect your expenses

Avoid getting into a race to the bottom just to undercut your competitors and gain clients. The first reason you make money is to cover your basic expenses, so if you can’t do that, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

2. Do your own research

Start networking, scour the web, reach out to freelance communities (although maybe avoid your direct competitors 😉), and identify your place in your market. Yes, you might be right at the bottom of the pile, but if you’re not, you need to take advantage of it.

3. Find your niche

Sure, you might not be able to compete with the big guns, but if you can offer something nobody else can, you become in-demand. Social media in both English and Mandarin? Cheese tours on rollerblades? If you build it, they will come.

4. Make a name for yourself

Whether it’s industry events, online presence, or a sleek portfolio, gaining reputation and authority in your field allows you to boost your pricing. 

5. Be flexible with your rates

Sure, you never want to go below your minimum rate. But don’t pass up the security of a retainer or a long-term commitment just because your client wants a discount.

6. Be assertive in your negotiation

Not every client that contacts you will be a match made in heaven. Explain what you offer, how much it costs, and be prepared to defend it. With an injection of confidence, you can often call a client’s bluff.

7. Track your time

Just like you need to track expenses, time tracking apps are vital in showing you how much time you actually spend on work. Accurate data will inform how you set freelance rates in the future to make sure you aren’t working too hard for too little. 

8. Review your rates regularly

As a freelancer, nobody is going to raise your rates for you. Look at industry changes, inflation, and your own capabilities, and make adjustments so you keep progressing. 

Continue your journey with Xolo

Setting rates as a freelancer in Spain is important, but it’s just one part of the puzzle. If you’re new to solo life and want to get ahead of the game, Xolo might just be the solution you need.

Xolo is an all-in-one accountancy service that gives you full access to a team of specialists who can advise you on setting rates, deducting business expenses, insurance and so much more.

But that’s not all. We take care of all your admin, such as:

✍️ Registration as a freelancer

📩 Easy online invoice creation

🤓 Quarterly tax returns

So if you want to live your best freelance life without all that boring admin getting in your way, sign up today and see how Xolo can help you make the leap!

Summary: How to set freelance rates like a boss in Spain

This blogpost offers valuable insights on setting competitive and profitable freelance rates in Spain. The key takeaway action points are as follows:

  1. Calculate expenses and target savings to determine your monthly target.
  2. Research market rates and identify competitors' pricing.
  3. Assess your skills, qualifications, and experience to justify rate adjustments.
  4. Be prepared to negotiate and set a minimum rate.
  5. Review and adjust rates based on experience and client interactions.
  6. Streamline your Freelance Business with Xolo.

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About James

James McKenna has been a freelancer since 2017, working in subtitling, translation, and his main passion — writing. He loves nothing more than falling down a rabbit hole, a habit that has helped him specialize in areas as diverse as biotech, climate change, higher education, and business strategy.

Based in Barcelona, James learned the ropes the hard way, making mistakes that turned into valuable learning experiences. After working hard to establish himself, he is now working smart, and is always on the lookout for ways to streamline his business.

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