In the beginning stages of your freelancing career, it can be nerve-racking to ask for any amount of pay for your first projects. Whether it’s $10 an hour or $100 for an entire project, we tend to price low because of an underlying belief that we’re lucky enough to have anyone who wants to pay for our work at all.
But the more work you do for satisfied clients, the less likely that belief will continue holding you back. Eventually, you will have enough evidence of how valuable your work really is, and raising your rates will become your next goal. But how exactly do you raise your rates while still feeling good about it? Here are a few tips for your next pay raise.
Make no mistake - There is nothing holding you back from a pay raise other than your willingness to raise your rates. As a freelancer, you are in complete control of what you make per hour, per project, or any other rate you have.
There are 5 main ways you could raise your prices as a freelancer:
Expand your skillset with training, courses & coaching in whatever areas you’d like to specialize in. Simply put, when you master skills, you can charge more for them. Specializations will always bring in more income, so determine what niche you’d like to work in, and expand your skills in this area and start marketing yourself as an expert.
Tell your existing clients that you’ve made an investment in yourself and your business and will be offering a new service or specializing in one that you already offer. This is the perfect time to also let them know that this investment means that you’re raising your rates. I’ve always found this route one of the easiest ways to increase my prices because I felt like I owed my clients justification when in reality, you only need to be able to justify your prices to yourself. But it made the conversations easier, nonetheless.
When you charge hourly, you’re assigning a value to your time. This type of rate keeps you in the same position you might have had in a 9-to-5 job. Even though you might have the added benefit of location independence, it’s not fun to carry your laptop to the beach during working hours. When you charge based on the project, you’re assigning the value to the results (ie, a new website). This type of work can be done on your own schedule, whether it’s in the middle of the night or in a few hours each day.
As you become more comfortable with your work and build your confidence as a freelancer, adding an incremental amount to each new job you take until you feel you’re being paid what your work is worth is a simple way to slowly increase your rates.
For example, if you build websites, you could start by charging $500 for your first website build. For the next website you build, you charge $1,000. And then $1,500 for the one after that until you find your sweet spot. Alternatively, you could double the price each time or do three websites at one price, then do another three at a higher price, and the next three at a higher price still. Ultimately, you need to find what feels the most comfortable to you.
Discovery calls give you greater insight into your prospective client’s business and allow you to establish a trust connection that will help you feel more confident with the results you can get them. When you are confident in the value you can provide, you can confidently submit a higher-priced proposal that will likely be accepted based on your connection with the prospect.
Following a discovery call, clients are more likely to accept a proposal at a higher price because they have ‘met’ you and some form of trust has been established. Plus, if you have conducted a good discovery call, you should have all the information you need to put together a thorough and detailed proposal that addresses all of their main concerns and shows how you will solve them.
VIP Days are a done-in-a-day service where clients can book you for a whole day to achieve a certain deliverable (ie, a website build/optimization, set up and integrate email marketing with their website, automation, etc.).
This type of business model opens up your schedule for days (or weeks) at a time, giving you much more flexibility since you are only working with a client for a day. Yes, there will be preperation that you have to do for these VIP Days, but consider that when you’re pricing this type of service.
You can potentially charge thousands of dollars for this, but you can also start small and work your way up when you feel more comfortable, similar to the incremental method of raising your rates.
Another way to increase your rates is to offer your existing clients additional services or products. For example, if you’re a web developer, offer your client a monthly maintenance package on their brand new website. If you also have copywriting skills, you can offer them an additional service to create the copy for their website pages.
Existing clients already know and trust you, so offering them more value with complimentary offers is a way to go that extra mile and help solve problems that you know they’re going to experience.
If you struggle between higher rates and wanting to help someone who has a smaller budget, consider creating pricing tiers with low, medium, and high priced services. This allows you to still work within your own comfortable range of prices without compromising your value.
If the number one thing holding you back from raising your rates is a fear of losing clients, here is the truth: You may lose clients when you raise your rates, but that’s okay because you will also gain new ones. In the long run, charging low prices for your work will create a resentful relationship between you and your low-paying clients. Avoid this trap by valuing your work and your clients from the beginning.
Don’t be fooled by thinking the cheaper your services are, the more clients you will have. You don’t need to race to the bottom in order to have a steady stream of clients coming in. You need to find the clients that are willing to pay what your work is worth. I’m encouraging you to race to the top and become the most expensive service provider who can deliver an insanely high level of value to your clients!
Raising your prices isn’t easy because we often don’t see the value in our work. However, in order to better serve your clients, you also need to be fairly compensated. When your rates are low and your effort is high, there is only one outcome you will get every time: burnout. In order to best serve your clients, give as generously to yourself as you would to any of your clients. Value your work so you can serve your clients in your best capacity.
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