How Much It Costs To Hire Freelance Help For Your Startup

Photo by  Manny Pantoja

Photo by Manny Pantoja

If you’re a small business owner, the thought has definitely crossed your mind about hiring expert support to help elevate your business or to maintain a major department of it. 

However, the biggest deterrent that prevents a lot of entrepreneurs from taking the healthy first step towards outsourcing or receiving guidance is cost, namely having a ballpark range of what one should expect and an understanding of what a “good price” is for a specific service.

Many people don’t want to engage someone for a proposal and have to cut the cord once they receive a quote way beyond their budget. It’s a very human response, to not want to “bother someone” when one’s budget is pretty ironclad.

Over the years, I’ve been able to hire freelancers for my team and the teams of other startups, giving me a perspective on what going rates are for many common startup hires, which I’m going to share with you.

I hope that these ballpark figures give you a jumping-off point to start seriously thinking about hiring support for your team and to move away from DIY startup building. Every coach, consultant, copyeditor, virtual assistant and others I’ve hired have been instrumental to my business’ success on a daily basis — not having these people on my team would mean the difference between subpar and excellent work.

Think about it — the difference in skill level between someone who has spent 10,000 hours on business strategy or social media management and someone like you who dabbles with it is going to be stark. It’s impossible for someone to be an expert at everything, and if you don’t have people on your team to help produce high-quality work, then you’re doing the disservice of not allowing your startup to live up to its potential.

I want to note that these figures below are rates I’ve been charged for good talent who was also enjoyable to work with. I find that working with people you like is important, even if your team is remote or if it’s a one-time project. 

In today’s global marketplace, you can find talent around the world at virtually any price point if you’d like, but if you’re looking for quality — these prices in my experience are the normal going rate.

Consultants: $2,000 and up

Business, marketing, strategic consultants and consultants of varying types usually have a fixed price for every deliverable that they produce. Consultants pack a ton of knowledge and expertise to help accelerate you and your business’ success timeline by 6 months and more.

The time it took that consultant to hone their skill, knowledge, and expertise is what you pay for rather than their time. Even 1-hour consulting sessions don’t often represent one’s true hourly rate and instead captures the value of the final deliverables of that consulting session.

Typical fixed-price projects start from $2,000 and increase, depending on the scope and length of the engagement. 

Coaches: $500/hour and up

This is the rate I’ve found to represent a coach that can enact true, transformative change in someone. I usually spend only one hour with my coach a month, but the session is packed with so much value, self-reflection, and actionable next steps that it keeps me occupied for the whole month.

Most coaches require a minimum of 3–6 months to work their magic, hence why you see many coaches with multi-month programs (start from $1,500 and up).

Branding and Marketing Agency: $3,000/month and up

A lot of agencies have a retainer model where they charge you $3,000 or more on a monthly basis, but you are locked into the contract for a full year. 

If you’re looking for quality marketing and branding efforts, committing to it for a full year is a pretty sound practice. Having a team to consistently build your brand’s audience throughout the year is essential for your sales funnel.

Website Designer: $2,000 and up for a website

There’s a wide range of website types that exist, but the majority of B2C small businesses are able to get away with a website built on Squarespace, Shopify, or Wix — websites built on this platform start at $2,000 to be built by a quality designer.

Businesses such as SaaS products that require a lot of custom tech and features, or a website built on Wordpress will see a much higher price tag since you’ll have to bring a developer into the design process as well.

Virtual Assistants: $30/hour and up

Pricing for virtual assistants can vary widely — I’ve seen my fair share of VAs that charge $10/hour to $100/hour. If you’ve never had an assistant before or have had limited experience with VAs, I recommend starting at the $30/hour range and then changing your budget according to how sophisticated your needs are.

In my experience, I would say that most entrepreneurs have tasks fit for a VA within the $30/hour range.

Social Media Manager / Ad Manager: $500/month and up

I’ve seen quality social media managers and ad managers both charge about $500/month for their management fees. For ad managers, this does not include a monthly ad spend budget, which can accommodate your budget, but you probably want to spend at least $5/day to start.

Both social media managers and ad managers charge an initial $500 or so fee to conduct an audit of your brand’s existing social media landscape (social media manager) or to dig out high-performing keywords for your brand (ad manager).

Fees for ad managers can vary widely based on their expertise — ad manager experts can drive cost-per-clicks down to $.01 per ad, so expect ad managers with this type of portfolio to charge handsomely for their monthly services.

Copywriter and Copyeditor: $20/hour and up

The copywriter and copyeditor marketplace is one where I’ve consistently found good talent — they often have a quick turnaround and do wonders for your brand if you have them consistently work with you on client deliverables and consumer-facing marketing materials.

Copyeditors will typically charge in the low $20/hour segment and copywriters will be in the high $20/hour or more segment. However, many copywriters charge according to your desired word count — I’ve seen anywhere from $250-$500 charged for a blog post, depending on its length. 

Copywriters who craft copy for big brands or are pros at creating copy for branding and marketing purposes will be in their own league and price more like the consultant category above. 

For more startup support like this, grab my Pitch Deck Checklist or my ‘Find Your Customers’ worksheet to fine-tune your pitch deck or marketing strategy.

Sophia Sunwoo