Negotiating a freelancer raise in 5 steps

24.07.2019

Asking for an increase in pay can be uncomfortable for most, if not a risky call. But sometimes, it’s also necessary if you want to grow and define yourself as a successful freelancer. It is important not to undersell yourself and your services. Each year you gain more experience and strive to do a better job – so why shouldn’t this reflect on your freelancer rates?



With an upward improvement in your skillset, it’s only fair to see how your rates increase as well. Your clients know and understand this, probably even better than you. It’s simply not in their best interest to make an offer if you seem content with current rates.

Mustering up the courage to ask for a raise is tough, but it’s vital to price your services and skills at a level you are comfortable with. So, how to tell your clients you’re raising your prices? We’ve listed down five steps that will prepare you for that ever awkward conversation of increase in pay!  

 

How do I ask for raise as a freelancer?

 

1. Formulate why you deserve a higher pay

First and foremost, think of the reasons why you should be paid more. They have to be sincere and, in most cases, measurable. Talk about your strengths and outline what you’ve done for the client. 

Suppose you work as a web designer. Tell your client about the ways their site has improved since you’re on board and how it can improve even further – because you’ve grown as a freelancer and can produce work of higher quality.

Explain to your client why you can add more value to them. Here some ideas that support raising your freelance rates:

  • You provide more experience and new skills (more clients, more experienced resolving issues, etc.)
  • You offer more services in your regular services (e.g offer support videos, or tutorials, extra visuals with matching branding, etc.)
  • You give more support or attention (e.g. an individual call/week)

 

2. Back it up with facts

Making the case for your pay is that much easier when the arguments are, as outlined above, measurable. To keep with the example from our first point, you should look at different metrics before the conversation. 

For example, look at how much time people spend on the site you helped create now in comparison to a year ago. How many people click on relevant buttons you have placed there and made prominent? 

Stats like that will underline not only your current value to the client, but also implicitly promise a future of even more growth. And there are few things business owners like more than growth.

 

 

 

3. Start with a strong offer and decide on the raise strategy

The next topic in your conversation should be the amount of the raise. Should you raise the prices gradually (e.g. $200 every 2 projects delivered) or a higher amount at once (e.g. $1000 extra at the current price per project)?

You decide here. It depends on your clients and what you want.
 

  • Do a gradual increase:  If you decide to go with a gradual increase it should be possible to keep your current clients as you keep them along the process. However, it can get hard for you to provide more value with every price increase. 
     
  • Do a higher raise: You might be losing current clients that can’t afford you at the new prices. So this is a good option if you would like to take part with old (unsatisfied clients) or if you are positioning yourself as an expert (rebranding). The complication here is to show the new clients that high-valued new brand of yours so you attract bigger clients.

The most important thing you have to understand here is this: Your first offer will be the baseline for negotiation. 

You might want to keep a few clients that you’re happy working with so you have to know prices will not go higher than your initial offer. That doesn’t mean a high initial offer on your part has to be unrealistic – but caution will likely not do you any favors.

 

4. Leverage via other offers

Leverage is a big part of negotiating rates (and raising rates). If your client knows that you will be taking a heavy financial hit upon disagreeing with their proposal, they have all the leverage. So how do you get leverage as the freelancer? 

The best way to do it is by showing them that other people are willing to pay you more. This can either be other current clients or other recent offers. That kind of leverage might need to be prepared weeks or months before negotiations – but it’s worth it.

It might seem like an unfair strategy, but look at it this way: By not taking alternative offers, you’re telling the client that you value the business relationship, but simply cannot continue it under the current circumstances, specifically your low pay.

 

5. Be prepared to part ways

If things go sour, you might be forced to stop working with that particular client. And you have to be ready for that. 

Entering a negotiation with the fear that you might lose if you don’t give in usually won’t end well. And that’s another argument for having leverage – those other offers are a real thing you can rely on. Sometimes, things won’t work out. But a lot of the times they will. And it’s worth the risk, especially considering that the alternative is getting underpaid for years on end.

 

How do I bring up the rate raise? 

 

To help you get started down this path, we’ve put together a couple of easy to customize e-mail templates for you to use when bringing up the subject of raising your freelance rate

You can tell your client about the increase in rates in 2 ways:

1. Waiting for approval - The first way involves you hoping to see an increase in your freelance rate. Here, you broach the subject with your clients and wait to see what they think or if they approve. 

Here's our freelance rate increase letter that will help you do this:
 

“Hello [Client], 

I’d appreciate it if we could set up a quick chat about reassessing my per-word rates. As per our existing contract, I’m currently charging $0.09 per word for all our projects. 

Since we originally signed the contract I’ve learned new valuable things, like content optimization and inbound marketing. Therefore, my plan is to increase that rate to $0.1 per word starting 2 months from now. 

These new skills allow me to better serve your writing needs and I’m hoping this is enough time to assess the change. 

Let me know what you think,

The freelancer”
 

2. Be assertive - Once you’ve decided you’re going to increase your rates, that’s that. Now you simply have to figure out how to let your clients know. You could even do this annually so long term clients know to expect this. 

The following hourly rate increase letter template can help:
 

“Hello [Client],

I’d like to quickly discuss our contract. Starting in January 2020, I will be increasing my per word rate to $0.1 from the current $0.09 per word. I will, of course, honor all pre-existing work contracts before that date. 

I hope to continue working with you and would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have moving forward. 

Let me know what you think,

The freelancer”
 

We hope you found this article helpful and got a few ideas to tell your clients you’re raising your prices. 

Remember raising rates is a natural part of any business, especially when it’s supported by better skills or services. Tell your clients in a professional way and be convinced about the increase then you deserve it!

 

As always, the team of freelancermap is looking forward to any thoughts you might have – share them with us in the comments section below.

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