One of the hardest things for most freelancers to pull off is to make sure they get paid enough. Today, we’re not going to discuss the psychological battle of knowing it’s time to raise your rates, even though it’s a hard one.
Instead, what we’re going to focus on is what you should do once you’ve decided that it’s time to raise your prices. How can you go about doing so without losing your clients in the process?
Change your services
One of the most effective ways to ask for more money is to disguise it in a service change. If you were a writer, then perhaps also offer to find them some images and put it into their website. Or you can offer to also suggest topics.
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If you expand what you do for them and offer a more extensive package, then obviously you can raise your rates along with that. Just make sure you raise your rates by more than the extra work will cost you and you’ll be in a good place!
This is also a great choice if you want to start working together with somebody. You can offer a package deal where you do graphic design and their text, for example.
Just add together what the new person you work with wants for the job and add an additional price increase for yourself, then you’ll have put through your rage change without upsetting your clients.
Announce a price change in the future
When you spring a price change upon people suddenly, then there is a good chance they will have a knee jerk reaction and say, “no.”
If you announce it somewhere down the road, however, then they will continue to use your services in the meantime and then when the prices do go up, they won’t get half as upset.
After all, they knew it was coming and as they didn’t do anything about it.
Announce it as an annual price change
Every year prices go up. That’s inflation. So why not right from day one make it clear that you’ll be doing a yearly rate increase to cover that? If you make this clear to new clients from day one, when they first sign up, then it won’t be a surprise.
And though obviously small increases aren’t going to make you rich, they can become quite substantial. After all, they are cumulative. So if you do a 10% price increase per year, then on year two you’re really boosting your prices by 11% and so on.
The best way to factor in this kind of a price change is to write up a contract in which you state what you will be doing, what it will cost them and so on. Somewhere in the middle, you can include a section which states how you will increase your rates annually (and when you will do so).
As your clients will have more information to pay attention to, and as long as the rate change isn’t unreasonable, most won’t even bother to comment.
Of course, you don’t have to raise the rates for all of your clients. You can also just boost them for new clients. As long as they are not aware what you charge your older clients, they aren’t going to get upset at the new rates.
Then, when you’ve got enough new clients at the new rate, you can raise the rate on the old clients – confident that other people are willing to pay it. That confidence will shine through in your negotiations and make it more likely they’ll accept.
And if they don’t? Well, then the new clients will cushion the blow and you can continue onwards and look for new clients to fill the gap.
Frame the question
Often, by framing the question about something else, people will not even entertain the notion of leaving you. So, instead of saying, “I’m going to raise my prices by X, are you okay with that?” Which invites them to consider saying no, go about it differently.
Say, “I’m going to increase my rates, would you prefer an increase of X, or would you prefer an increase of Y where I also start doing this for you?” (where Y is obviously bigger than X). Here you’ve still given then a choice – between Y and X – and they will be focused on that more than they will be focused on whether they’re going to stick around.
Yes, obviously they might still opt to accept neither, but it’s a lot less likely.
Something to consider about low-paying clients
Still not convinced to pull the trigger? Still afraid that they’ll run for the hills and you’ll go from barely scraping by to living under a bridge? Then consider this:
It isn’t just bad freelancers who don’t ask for high rates. It’s generally bad clients who pay them. It really is true, often the clients who are the most demanding are the least willing to pay well for the services you offer.
Their constant complaints and frustrations make you think less of your services.
As a result, sometimes losing these low-paying, but comfortable clients can be just the kick in the rear we need. Suddenly, we’re pushed to go out of our way to find new clients. And when it’s make or break, we’re always willing to do that little bit more to get us there.
So, don’t always assume losing a client is bad news. Sometimes it will lead to some much-needed self-reflection. After all, as they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
For that reason, don’t let yourself get stuck in your comfort zone. Push onwards and conquer new heights. Though it might be uncomfortable right now, ultimately, you’ll thank yourself for doing so.
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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