If you’ve been worrying that raising your rates will cost you clients, the opposite might be true. Good clients need quality, and they realize that it comes at a price. If you’ve read the book called ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini, a phenomenal books that seem to nail every basic human emotion in its rawest form, even if flawed. We live by certain psychological perceptions that are almost universally common. For instance, herd mentality, which means that we feel if everyone is doing it, it must be a good idea. It might not be true, but it does affect our involuntary thinking. In context with our topic today, the book talks about ‘Pricing psychology’, which means that we tend to perceive expensive things as better. That hopefully explains why this painting sold for $70 million, though I’m not convinced, but I digress.
But in case of freelancing rates, raising your rates may actually help you win more and better clients, as it shows that you’re confident about your work, and also that you must be doing well with other clients. If done correctly, raising your rates can be one of the best moves at taking your freelance career to the next level, ‘done correctly’ being the operative phrase here. So how do you gracefully inform your clients that you are raising your rates, and use the move to not lose them but rather, make them trust you even more? Read on.
1. First Things First – Make Yourself Valuable
This goes without saying, but you need to be so valuable to your clients that they can’t afford to lose you. Only then do you gain firm ground at rates negotiation. If you’ve been working for this client long enough, and feel that your work has become ‘a little bit ordinary over time’, reorient yourself and pick up the pace. Start putting yourself in it honestly, and delivering exceptional work that the clients won’t just accept but love. Work a little harder and get a little more creative. Be more prompt with your communication and diligent about punctuality. In short, make yourself irreplaceable, a linchpin. When you do that, any client would be willing to pay you anything, just to keep getting the quality work done.
2. Be Honest With Your Clients
When you approach your clients about a pay raise, honesty is pivotal. Your client is running a business; they expect such conversations all the time and are ready for them. Are you? Do not try to beat around the bush and disguise the topic under any false pretexts. Clients are smarter than that. So ease into the conversation and honestly profess that you are here to talk about raising your rates. Whether you are having this conversation over the phone, email or in person, be honest and open about it from the top.
3. Recap the Value You Bring To the Work
Sometimes, the client may need to be reminded of it, other times they already know and just need you to show that confidence, but politely asserting the value you bring to the client is a great way to justify the price increase. Talk about the work you do, the new projects you’ve taken up of the ways you’ve upskilled yourself, learnt new stuff and brought more innovation to the work. Show that that you have worked extra hard to research and keep yourself updated with the client’s industry, to bring authenticity to the work.
All of this must be concise though, as you don’t want to come across as either bragging or bargaining. A quick overview is sufficient. A few lines to prime up the proceeding conversation is just enough to make your point.
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4. State Your Desired Rate Clearly and Confidently
Don’t throw a ballpark number at your client. It makes them uncomfortable, and can lead to them picking the lowest end of the scale. Instead, tell them exactly how much you’d like to be paid per hour. Using terms like ‘35% raise’ might work if you are in a particularly formal environment, but in general, you’d just be better off quoting real dollars.
Also important here is to be realistic about your demands. Very few freelancers can pull of a feat like doubling their rate in one go. Assess your potential by studying your industry and understanding what other freelancers of your caliber are making. Also attempt a little research at the financials of your client. If you feel that the work you do is bringing the client enough money, go on and ask your worth.
5. Assure that you’ll add Even More Value Henceforth
Your client must feel that for the extra money they pay, they will receive added value. Tell your clients how you intent to make your work even better. Talk about latest trends in your industry and the changes that are happening, proposing how you are prepared to handle these changes and are up to date with the latest. Talk about the new technologies or practices you’ve acquainted yourself with and how you’ll use them to make your work even more relevant and better. Research what’s happening within the company and if you come across any challenge areas, propose a plan to tackle them through your work. For instance, in addition to writing blog-posts, suggest fine-tuning the client’s social media posts and offer to help.
Most freelancers have little idea of what it is like to hire and retain good freelancers. They deal with so much competition, hustle and prospecting, that they feel utterly replaceable. However, if you ever spent any time actually hiring freelancers, you’d feel much better about yourself. Client’s need quality, consistency and dependability. Every company has very unique requirements and it takes up a lot of time and investment to have each employee and freelance get tuned-in to the company style. They cannot afford to lose a seasoned freelancer and have to hire, train and acclimatize a new one. So if you’ve been delivering value and performance consistently, and feel it’s time to start charging a little more to make it worth your time and effort, you’re probably right, and your client knows it. Just show the confidence and know what you’re worth, and your client will be happy to pay what your rightfully deserve.