willybfriendly - 4:17 am on Feb 12, 2010 (gmt 0)
I am still a part timer (the day job has great benefits ;))
I am selective in what work I take. I always pad delivery dates and estimates by at least 50% so I can come in cheaper and faster than the client expects.
I am not afraid to reject work, usually based on vibes from the client, nor am I unwilling to "fire the client" when they go sideways on me. I only rarely negotiate fees, and usually live to regret it when I do (but I do have a soft side that gets me in trouble).
I originally set my rates at the value of my day job plus 50%, which a decade ago put me in the $40/hr range. My rates are significantly higher now, and my skill set is greatly expanded as well (thanks WebmasterWorld!)
I support all that others have said. You are doing a highly technical job that is way above the ability of the average person. Don't devalue yourself. Time is the only non-renewable resource. If you want to design/work for fun/free consider donating your time to a non-profit. If you are doing it for pay, then demand fair pay or walk away and spend you time doing something fun.
Life is too short to squander the limited time you have. That is real. Working for minumum wage is the fairy tale.