Remember corporate pay reviews? Your boss gushes about your performance then offers you a raise. It’s a yearly nod to your growing value. Well, just like your former full-time self, you’ve demonstrated your growing value to your client as a freelancer. No different, right? You should be compensated for that and here’s how to get started .
1. If you don’t believe it, who will?
Mindset! You’re a more qualified freelancer today than you were last year. First, accept this truth that you deserve more or you won’t convince your client. Refresh that dated self-image by counting wins. Check all that apply:
- More impressive client list
- Bigger projects and more of them
- Plenty of bookings
- New skills relevant to client’s needs
- Measurable achievements
- My competitors charge more than I do
2. Think elevator pitch
Write that brief story that justifies your increase. You shouldn’t need to explain it to a satisfied customer (Hello, inflation, duh?), but you sometimes need to convince yourself. And always better to prepare so you’re not defensive.
3. How much are we talking?
Smaller increments are easier to swallow. Even if you deserve more, it can blindside a client who has always paid the same. A 5-10% increase is reasonable and with several clients can add up. But you’re the best judge of what feels right.
4. If not a fee increase, what then?
Sometimes budgets won’t budge, and clients can’t always control this. Be creative! What about referrals or fewer hours for the same pay?
5. Start with “lower risk” clients
If you have some low-ball clients, start there. Can afford to lose them if they balk at the fee increase? Use their responses to shape the conversation with others.
6. Longer-term clients are fair game, too.
Clients who stick with you over time endorse you with each new project. That steady workflow speaks volumes about your value to them. They know you’re running a business just like them and it’s a smart practice to review prices each year.
7. Give ’em time.
Budget changes sometimes require management signoffs. Give your employer 90 days’ notice in writing. If you know their fiscal calendar, tell them at the start of their last quarter.
8. Pave the way for the next increase
Train your clients to expect increases. A contract clause will prepare them.
9. New clients, new rates
Don’t chicken out with new clients. What’s the point of all this if you revert to old rates to win new clients?
10. Don’t get stagnant with pricing
Business growth results from two things; growing expertise that commands more pay, and more gigs. Align rates with expertise, period.
What if they fire me?
It’s scary to think you might lose business over a rate hike. But as a gig worker, only you can champion your value. Your repeat clients will likely want to keep you happy and changing contractors is stressful for them, too. If they’re smart, they will weigh the costs. Remember, one reason you’re a freelancer is to build a business. You can’t do that with stagnant prices.