A freelancer’s guide to raising your rates.
If you consider factors like inflation rates and rent hikes, the money you earned last year won’t stretch as far today. That’s one of the reasons your friends with full-time jobs get raises at companies they’ve been working at for years. As freelancers, it’s our job to set our own market value and remind our long-term clients to raise our rates. Here is our guide on how you can get paid what you’re worth.
The 10% rule.
When you first start freelancing, you might underprice yourself just to get those initial clients to ‘bite’ and hire you. However, once you have a handful of clients or jobs pending, add 10% to your rate moving forward. It might feel risky, but it’s a risk work taking for the long-term. With time, you will be able to swap out lower-paying clients with higher-paying ones and earn the income you deserve.
Let metrics back you up.
If you’re consistently delivering and meeting your clients’ expectations, you should broach the subject of a rate increase. As you build your relationships with your clients, ask questions about how your work has affected things like sales or web traffic. That way, you can refer back to those metrics when you’re in the midst of justifying your monetary worth.
Don’t make it personal.
Make it clear that you are increasing your rate for all your clients and be sure to give them ample notice. After you complete a job, email your client something like, “I love working with you and have enjoyed working together for a long time. So you know for next time, I’m actually increasing my overall rate per hour (or day) to be able to spend more quality time on the jobs I take on.” If you believe that a client can’t afford your higher rate and you want to continue working with them, tell them you would be willing to negotiate a new fee just for them that is somewhere between your old and new one.
Forget rates: Talk value
When you’re setting a price for your work, talk with your client about their desires and outcomes, and what they will get from working with you. If you’re a writer, your job proposal might be broken down into: research, a draft, one round of revisions, prompt delivery, daily communication, etc. Most people rather pay $50/hr for someone who presents themselves professionally and itemizes results than $12/hr for someone who is less organized and committed.
You got skills.
What’s the best way to justify higher rates? Acquire more skills. For example, if you’re a photographer who can also retouch, or if you’re a graphic designer who also shoots video, you can ask for more money by offering up more services to your original proposal. Develop evidence of your new skills by putting together the types of projects that you want to eventually be paid to work on so you have something to show. The more you can differentiate yourself among a sea of competition with cool side projects and examples that’ll attract potential customers, the better.