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How to raise rates

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A freelancer should be aware of what they’re worth and how their rates are working for them. There are a lot of factors to consider - too many for this article alone - but the act of talking to clients about a raise doesn’t need to be complicated. Here’s how to handle it..

Every freelancer will charge too little at some point in their career. What you charged starting out should not be what you charge years down the line. You have more experience, more skill, and as a result of these two things, you can likely work a lot faster, too. Simply put, a freelancer only becomes more valuable over time, and recognizing this is important.

Competing on price and price alone is a pointless battle. Clients will often claim that they can get a man in Malaysia at one-tenth your price point, or that there’s a fresh-faced kid who’s hungry for your work. They’re not wrong, but they are short-sighted. That kid might charge a quarter your hourly rate, but chances are it will take them four times as long, too. Plus, the lack of expertise or experience will be a hindrance that’s rarely included in a cheap price point. There are a lot of factors that justify what you charge, and neither you nor your client should overlook them.

Your rates may impact how a client thinks of you. If you are charging significantly less than your colleagues, the question of ‘why’ may arise in a client’s mind. You may reek of desperation or a lack of professionalism. Conversely, higher rates indicate a honed skillset and years of experience. Regardless, being able to justify your price point is important. Even if you’re offering a low-rate to combat some last-second expenses, communicating this to your client is important.

Talking to your client about new rates is a matter of preparation. Most importantly, you need to be able to justify yourself. You need to know when other people are charging in your field and what the overall demand is. You need to know what how much money you need to be making to survive (which is a cost that will likely rise as you get older), and you need to be prepared for questions the client will ask.

Finding clients can be rough, but finding worthwhile freelancers isn’t easy either. The important thing is to recognize your worth and to make sure your client does too. If you’re professional, polite, and your work arrives on time, a client will not want to let you go. The thought of having to hire some unknown is often enough to get clients to cough up a few extra dollars.

"No" shouldn’t even be an option. This may seem like hard-line advice, but it’s true. If you’ve done your research and you’ve assessed that, yes, you’re not getting paid enough, then you need to practice what you’re preaching. If a client simply won’t or can’t pay higher rates (and you want to keep working with them), talk about scaling back responsibilities or other forms of recompense. Negotiation is fine, but you got to this point because the status quo needed to change; don’t forget that.

As with most things in freelancing, you need to look out for your best interests when it comes to pay. Only the most heavenly of clients will broach the topic of unfair rates, and only the most fictitious will outright exceed your asking price. Take care of yourself, and don’t forget that you’re worth something.

Added on 2013-12-10 by


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