One question that a freelancer frequently grapples with is: “how much should I be paid?” It’s a legitimate question; one that involves multiple factors. Of course you don’t want to ask for too much money; the client may decide to hire someone else if a salary demand is unreasonable. On the other hand, you definitely don’t want to shortchange yourself. Not only will you regret not asking for more, you don’t want to prepare all your meals from a cookbook entitled 200 Great Ramen Recipes.

If you are on the job market, one of the questions you’ll be asked within the first 10 minutes of preliminary discussions will be about salary expectations. Especially if you’re contacted by a recruiter. Being the go-between puts them in the position of trying to find the best talent at the lowest price for the client, and you need to keep that in mind when talking with them. Sometimes a salary is negotiable, or at least the benefits are. Many headhunters put the salary ball in your court by asking “what salary are you looking for?” Fortunately there’s a good way to serve that ball right back to them. Here’s what you need to know about earnings.

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