As you start your freelance business and grow over time, you cannot help but feel underpaid, especially when you consider how much energy and effort you spend on projects. To counter this, you need to increase your freelance rates and negotiate it with your clients. However, this process can seem a bit awkward, especially when you’ve been working with the client for a long time.
The truth is, the skill of asking for a raise is not something which is taught in school. Which is why it can be a bit difficult to ask for it, even when you know you deserve it. Most freelancers are satisfied with whatever salary or hourly rate their clients are paying them. But that shouldn't be the case for freelancers such as yourself. As the difficulty of the work increases, you need to adjust prices and understand how to raise rate to ask clients for a fairer rate.
Smoothing out such conversations with clients takes time and practice and requires an effective strategy. The following tactics can help you smooth out the process.
Why Do You Need to Give Yourself a Raise?
When you started freelancing, you were probably just happy finding and completing contracts regardless of worth. Yet, after a while, you realize you need to start making some serious money as an independent contractor and set pricing for your freelance services.
As you become more confident in the quality of your work, you should increase your rates, especially if you onboard lots of clients. So, when you reach a point where you start wondering whether your rates are fair for the amount of time you spend working, it's probably the time to give yourself a raise.
Raising your rates and bringing this to existing clients can be a scary scenario. But, it’s something you need to do, especially if you want to grow your freelance career. If you don’t do this, you might never reach your earning potential.
When is the Right Time to Ask For a Raise?
Contrary to employees working at firms who wonder how often should you get a raise at work, as a freelancer, you don't need anyone’s permission to ask for a raise. You can give yourself a raise anytime. You don't even need to wait for positive feedback or a performance review from a client.
However, that doesn’t mean you should raise rates just because you can. Before raising your rates, consider whether your work is really exceptional and adds value to your clients’ business. Otherwise, there’s a high chance your clients may not entertain this raise of rates or may even leave you.
Last but not least, you may be forced to raise your rates, if the amount of work you have to do exceeds the amount of payment. In other words, when you feel you’re underpaid for the work you’re doing, perhaps you should consider asking for a better wage.
Therefore, there's no best or worst time, or day, or week for that matter, to raise your rates. Once you've decided you've truly grown your skills and are the best at what services you provide, just do it! Just ask for a raise!
Five Winning Tips To Raise Your Rate
Tip #1: Give a Reason Why You Need a Raise
Before asking clients to increase your freelande rates, offer them a specific reason for this, so your request doesn't seem out of the blue. Reasons for needing a raise can be something like - the project is more demanding than anticipated or that your skills have improved over the years, etc.
If there are other reasons you want to increase your rates, just communicate them with clients. Most are understanding and will probably accept the new prices. If a client isn't happy, you can invoice the same price for the initial project one last time and mention that you'd have to raise prices for similar projects in the future.
Tip #2: Show Your Worth
Let your work speak for itself! If you want to increase your rates and get paid more, you need to deliver exceptional work and must go the extra mile to consistently deliver meticulous work.
If you have excelled in your previous projects and have established a positive relation with your clients, your clients would not even hesitate to pay you more. As long as your clients are happy with your work and you show results for their business, they will have room to increase your rates.
To put it differently, if you offer real value to the client by delivering on time and having attention to detail, you can earn your desired rate and grow as a freelancer.
Tip #3: Simply State Your Rates Are Increasing
This is a bold move, but sometimes worth it. Instead of scripting a conversation, simply state that you're increasing your rates to your clients. You don't need to ask permission. Besides, as an independent contractor, you're your own boss, so feel free to raise your rates if you need to.
If you decide that you’ll be increasing your rates every year or every 2 years, let your clients know about it so that they have enough time to think over it and assign projects or new deals accordingly. If you consider inflation and how quickly the cost of living rises, raising your rates every 12 months seems like a wise move.
Before raising your rates, though, remember that some clients might not be able to afford your rate increase. Don't let this discourage you. Losing some clients may open up new opportunities and bring other customers who will happily comply with your increased rates. Or, if you have extremely good relations with that client, you can consider not raising your rates for them or raise it by only a small percentage.
Tip #4: Upsell or Cross-Sell
One of the ways you can make more money from the same client is to upsell or cross-sell your services. Instead of requesting higher rates, you can offer an extra service to your current offering, one that compliments the current one.
To give you an example, if you're a freelance content writer you can offer SEO optimization together. Or, if you're a web designer, offer to "throw in" a premium plugin or two.
Generally, you want to offer services closely related to your current offering. In other words, when upselling, you want to upsell a service that continues to solve your client’s pain points. By upselling or cross-selling, you earn more from the same amount of clients without directly raising your rates.
Tip #5: Offer Price-Tiers
An additional solution is to offer price tiers. These are different services at varying prices or the time taken to complete the project, etc. For example, as a freelance content writer, you can have three tiers for your services - $120/month for 4 blogs, $220/month for 8 blogs with keywords targeting, and $520/month for 16 blogs with keyword and SEO optimization.
Of course, before implementing price tiers, you need to figure out how to divide them in your business and how you will prioritize projects. You might be surprised looking at how many clients will opt for the costliest one. This is because people want the best for their business and if they see value in your services, they’d be happy to pay for it.
This is one of the best ways to broaden your earning potential and offer clients various pricing options to choose the best one that fits their business needs. This way, you will rarely lose a lead and get new clients - they’ll simply choose the correct tier for themselves.
What to do When Clients Disagree?
If a client rejects your new rates, there are not many things you do, except for reinstating your reasons for the raise and your value as a professional. So, try to sell the solution to your client’s problem again, and emphasize how your services can help solve their problem.
Remember: If you get a negative response from a client, it's OK to ask why. If you do it respectfully, the client might initiate a conversation, where they will tell why they feel they cannot pay more than the original rate and maybe help you figure out a way to meet in the middle.
In general, strive to initiate an in-person conversation instead of opting for chat messaging or email. This way, you have an actual opportunity to change your client’s mind and re-clarify how your service is the ultimate solution to their issues, even at a higher price.
Obviously, if they keep declining your new rates, accept it and move on.
Don't feel awkward when it's time to raise your freelance rates and ask clients for more money. If the requested rate is reasonable, clients will receive it well. Otherwise, they will decline. If that happens, you need to find new clients that appreciate your work and efforts.
So, by increasing your rates, you get your worth. At the same time, you also see which clients value you. If you need help expressing your increased rates, you can reach out to a professional content writing solution. This way, you don't have to write anything on your own. Instead, you let professional writers take care of it.