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When Should You Raise Your Prices as a Freelancer?


by Jennifer on March 14, 2013

Setting your own rates as a freelancer can be both empowering and worrisome: How much should I charge? At what point does the level of my experience warrant an increase in what I charge?

Will my clients be unhappy if I increase my rates? What do I do if I increase my rates and some clients are unwilling to pay?

These are just some of the many questions that you will inevitably ask yourself when considering your freelance rates.

Start With Timing

The first thing to think about is timing. You don’t want to increase your rates before your experience and product warrants it. A good indication of the level of your work is the satisfaction of your existing clients.

So get feedback from your clients. If they are happy with the standard of your work then you can think about increasing your rates.

Take this into account, as well as the extent of your experience. If you have been a freelancer for more than 6 months without an increase in rates, then maybe raising your rates is seriously something to consider.

The thing to remember is that you are offering a service. Your client is paying both for your time and for your experience, and they would not be doing so if they didn’t think you were worth it.

Clearly when you first start out as a freelancer, you will not be charging large sums of money. It takes time to build up a portfolio and a client base, but once you have a satisfied client base and a portfolio that you are proud of, it’s time to raise your rates.

In some cases a good indication of when to increase your rates is when clients suggest an increase in what they are happy to pay. But of course this is not always going to happen and most clients will be more than happy to continue paying a lower rate for your work.

If this is the case then you need to be confident enough in your own skills and the quality of your work to suggest an increase.

Gain More Confidence In Yourself

Many freelancers are anxious about raising their rates. An easy way to go about doing it is to build your rate increases in increments.

Start by giving five clients a particular rate, and then give new clients a rate that you have slightly increased. Once you have a base of clients at the new rate, you can assess the willingness of your current clients paying the lower rate to now pay a slightly elevated rate.

The anxiety of raising your rates often comes from a fear of losing clients and negatively impacting your business. You may feel fearful of asking your current clients to pay a higher rate going forward, because you don’t want to lose them.

So what happens if some clients are unwilling to pay the increased rate?

On the one hand you can accept this, but ask them to commit to an increase in rates in two or three months; on the other hand you can stick to your guns. Only you will know which approach is right for which client.

On the whole though, the people and companies that you work for are businesses themselves and so will have an appreciation for the difficulty of running a business and will in most cases think it is standard to raise rates at some point.

Realistically the moment you begin to think about raising your rates, is about the time you should do it. No one is more critical of your work than you are.

Have you ever raised your freelance rates? How did you navigate that tricky landscape?

About the Author: Richard McMunn established How2become in 2005, when he was working as a Fire Officer for Kent Fire & Rescue Service at the time. Since writing his first book, how to become a firefighter, Richard has gone on to author various titles spanning across multiple careers . The company has grown and developed into the UK’s leading careers information and development website. Connect with How2become on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Dustin Moore

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ronda Bowen March 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Raising rates can be scary. I’ve done it twice since I’ve been freelancing. I’ve also lowered my prices to reflect changes in the economy when necessary. It can be so hard to sit and justify raising rates sometimes. However, I feel if I discount my work I’m also discounting myself…so I guess, it’s time to raise rates again!

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