Whether it is recognition that you aren’t getting fair value for your services or adjusting to cost-of-living factors, a rate increase is sometimes necessary for freelancers. However, it is tricky to ask established clients to pay more.
The following is a look at some of the most effective ways for freelancers to ask for a rate increase from clients.
Ask Before Expanding Work Scope
In some cases, a request for more money is tied to efforts by a client to expand the scope of work. Contacts may attempt to slip in subtle enhancements to agreed-upon projects without allowing for the increase to your time and expertise demands.
If you expect more money, ask in advance of completing the work. Indicate that the new expectations go beyond the standard work agreement and convey your necessary rate adjustment for the extra elements.
Communicate in Advance of Scheduled Increase
Whether your increase is project-based or incremental, communicate well in advance. Clients need time to consider the budget implications of higher freelance fees.
The start of a new year is a good time to adjust rates, especially because it aligns with the timing of budget planning for a lot of companies. If you choose to increase fees for a new year, communicate at least a month or two ahead of time.
Seek Incremental Raises Rather than Dramatic Spikes
Rather than waiting for years to request a dramatic rate hike, make periodic or incremental increases. If you adjust your rates by 5 or 10 percent every six months or year, your clients get used to that and can plan accordingly. It is more difficult for a client to accept a 25 or 50 percent spike after a long-term flat rate.
Focus on Value
When you make your request, focus on value. If you simply state that your services are worth more than you currently earn and you need more money, clients may balk.
Instead, communicate that your expertise has grown or the cost-of-living has gone up. You could say, “Over the last year, I’ve expanded my services by obtaining new skills (or certifications). Because of my ability to offer this (additional value), I am making a modest rate increase of 10 percent at the start of the year.”
Feel Grounded in Existing Business
It is much easier to raise rates if you feel comfortable with a diverse and well-established customer base. Even if you lose a client, you can make up for the lost income with the rate increase on remaining clients. Then, you have some time to replace that client. It is a bit trickier if you have a small base that you rely upon for income.
Freelancers that implement these strategies for communicating a rate increase request are more likely to achieve desired results. You want value for your time and expertise, while maintaining the strong client relationships you’ve developed.
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