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How much do freelancers make? A guide to the average freelancer salary

Salary is a big consideration when thinking about going freelance. Read our guide to find out average hourly rates for a number of industries.

6 min read

For many people, going freelance means making more money. As a result, the question we all want to know is ‘how much do freelancers make?’ While it is a broad question that’s wholly circumstantial, it is possible to give an average figure.

We’ve looked into the available data on the average hourly rate freelancers charge in five European countries—Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the UK. While it’s still a rough guide to the average freelancer salaries, it’s a useful resource for those who are in the process of trying to figure out how to price their freelance services.

Average freelancer salaries across Europe

We can see some interesting differences across markets and industries when reviewing the data within the table:

The sky’s the limit in Germany:

Earnings data suggests that Germany is one of the best places in Europe to be a freelancer. In fact, Munich, one of Germany’s main tech hubs, happens to be the most expensive city in the world to find remote developers. The average rate per hour a freelance developer can charge in Munich is roughly €80 per hour. Other skills are also highly valued, with PR, branding knowledge and videography skills being some of the best-paid services on the list.

Developers are winning in Europe:

While freelance rates vary considerably across markets, developers demand the highest average hourly rates in Europe. Whether you specialise in front-end, back-end or somewhere in-between - chances are you’re in demand and as this is a rapidly growing industry, the future looks bright for those freelancing within web development.

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Franco-British Similarities:

France and the UK are great places for freelancers to find work and make a living out of their marketable skills, with similar rates across markets. However, two industries stand out - graphic designers storm ahead in France (with €54 per hour) and, as native speakers, British copywriters command the highest hourly rates across Europe, charging, on average, €41 per hour. But otherwise, most other freelancers can expect similar rates between these two markets.

Classic skills still on top:

Accounting is one the highest paying roles throughout the different markets, showing that traditional job roles such as these are still in high demand. An increasing amount of small start-ups cropping up across Europe create opportunities for freelancers such as accountants, as these companies look for resources to fulfil their immediate demands.

More bang for your buck:

Taking into account the cost of living in Spain and Italy, compared to France and Germany, freelancers can and do make decent money from project-based work. Our research suggests that Spain and Italy have a strong and competitive freelance market for creative skills, including design, illustration, filmmaking and user experience. There’s a healthy mix of junior, mid-weight and senior creative professionals in the Spanish freelance market, creating a competitive environment that’s useful for both employers and freelancers.

An office with several employees.

Freelance vs. Employed: Who earns more?

Turns out, the freedom to work whenever and wherever you want isn’t the only benefit of freelancing. Most freelancers tend to earn more than colleagues in similar, full-time positions. And why is that?

In most cases, freelancers are brought in to fill in gaps within an in-house team or as an extra pair of hands to tackle an ongoing, but often one-off, project. For many businesses, the cost of contracting a freelancer for a limited period of time is dramatically lower than hiring a full-time person. Consider overhead costs such as office space, payroll tax, employee perks, pension contributions, and many more! Plus, whenever the project is finished, the freelancer can be cut loose, freeing up the company’s budget.

This setup offers a lot of flexibility and savings for the business but creates quite a bit of uncertainty for freelancers. To compensate for that financial insecurity, freelancers often charge a higher hourly or daily rate and employers are happy to accept the trade-off.

Besides that, freelancers often work longer hours than full-time employees in similar positions and well into the weekend to keep their business moving. And that’s just simple math—the more hours they work, the more they can charge! However, it’s good to remember that freelancers have other costs to cover—holidays, sick days, maternity/paternity leave and conference days-out are all deducted from their freelance earnings, which is something that needs to be managed diligently.

black frame glasses on a top of closed laptop.

How to charge more for your services?

Many find the experience of valuing their work a little nerve-wracking, and that’s no surprise. Getting the pricing wrong may come back to haunt you—you may need to work longer and harder just to make enough. Don’t want to get yourself into a difficult situation? Start with a few simple strategies when deciding on your freelance rates and services.

  • Clearly define and outline your USPs What makes you and your offer special? How does your personal branding affect your pricing? What do you need to attract your ideal customers? Think long and hard about your USPs to gain a competitive edge and make your new client pitches more compelling!
  • Get certified Every industry will have a few certifications that are highly sought-after and respected. Adding a few accolades to your long list of achievements will only boost your personal brand and help you position yourself as an expert.
  • Diversify your portfolio One of the easiest ways to start charging higher rates is to expand your services and your portfolio. Taking on a more diverse mix of projects will allow you to gain broader experience in the different aspects of your field, which will in turn increase the perceived value of your services.

There are many factors that can impact your freelance hourly rate, including your level of experience, specialization, portfolio and even industry connections. As research shows, while certain skills are valued more in some markets than in others, the average freelance salaries across Europe are relatively similar. With access to giant freelance marketplaces like Upwork or PeoplePerHour, freelance professionals can now match their rates to the global market instead of earning the local rate.

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