Hoping to raise your freelance rates? Look no further! I've got one easy tip!
I'm asked all the time how to raise rates. It's probably the number one question I'm asked. Well, after what I'm doing during this whole COVID-19 thing. People ask this even more than they ask about my schedule or about how to start investing.
How to Raise Your Freelance Rates — No Stress Method
We all want to make more money. And it makes sense to look for ways to make more money by raising your rates, rather than working more. It's one of the reasons that I try to avoid doing hourly work whenever humanly possible.
Hourly work makes you sad and stressed. And you have a harder time earning more while working less. Raising your rates is just easier.
The simple, no stress method is to just ask your next client for more money. I refuse to publish a rate card, so it doesn't matter if I'm charging clients different rates. If I have enough clients paying a certain rate, it becomes evident that I need to kick it up a notch.
So, the next person who asks for a quote gets a rate that's $50 more per article than what I charge the previous client. In fact, if I'm being solicited a lot, I just bump up my rate for each subsequent email I send.
Side note: Several years ago, I made short videos sharing freelancing tidbits. I stopped because that whole divorce thing got in the way, and I never picked it back up. Here's the video on raising your rates.
Once you hear the method, it seems obvious. However, it's not immediately apparent that you could follow this process when you first start out. At least it wasn't for me. But then, I did it all backward and the hard way. I got my hint from Tom Drake, the owner of MapleMoney, several years ago.
The thing I like about this method of raising your freelance rates is that it comes with very little stress. I hate raising rates on existing clients (although it has to be done sometimes).
Cycling Out Lower-Paying Clients
Once you begin to raise your freelance rates this way, you can change the way you manage clients, and switch out lower-paying clients. In general, I like to focus on getting clients that pay more so that I can work less. When working out my lifestyle goals, I figure that I can write one article a day, five days a week, because of my rate. Not bad.
Of course, because I use batching, I tend to bunch them up on certain days of the week. And I usually end up with more than just 20 articles per month. My average is between 30 and 40 articles per month. But, no matter how I manage the workload, the reality is that I'm no longer writing, I shit you not, 25 – 30 articles per week.
Like, just by raising my rates on new clients and dropping lower-paying clients, I've worked up to a point where I can make more than I was making before while writing (for clients) less. Now, to be honest, I do need to acknowledge a few things about that whole 25 – 30 articles per week situation.
- Back in the day, articles/blog posts were usually more like 300 – 500 words, not at least 1,000.
- The fact-checking wasn't rigorous and I rarely had to provide any sort of backing for any assertion I made.
- I rarely had to interview anyone.
All of this made it much easier to crank out articles. I mean, it resulted in a complete breakdown, but it was a Thing I did at one point to feed my family. And, indeed, it's still possible to find gigs where you can just crank out articles of mediocre quality and make enough to get by.
However, it's also true that you can charge higher rates because more is required of today's professional freelance writer.
But the basic theory remains the same. As you raise your freelance rates, you can keep the higher-paying clients and get rid of the lower-paying clients.
Should You Keep Some of Your Lower-Paying Clients?
Just because a client doesn't pay as much doesn't mean they immediately get cut. I have two clients that don't pay as much as my other clients. I mean, they pay about half what my current starting rate is for new clients.
Why do I keep them around?
Because they're easy to work with. They require minimal fact-checking. They never ask for revisions. The work is steady. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, these clients have not cut my workload. And the rate is still 10 times the rate I was charging 10 years ago. I can complete one of these articles in half an hour, making my “hourly” rate more than worth it.
There have been times when my cycle actually prompts to switch out a client paying a rate located in the middle of the pack. I take into account how much time and effort goes into dealing with the client.
What if it takes me two hours to deal with an article, after putting in a bunch of citations and doing an interview. That's a lot of hassle. Especially if I'm asked to make revisions or add even more citations for common knowledge items like “public stocks are traded on an exchange.” Why would I do that to myself when I can earn what amounts to twice as much on an hourly basis by doing a quick hit in 30 minutes for someone who trusts me and doesn't ask for a bunch of fiddling around?
I keep a spreadsheet of how long it takes to write an article and then translate that into an hourly rate. Sometimes, it's more about how much effort a client is to deal with than a sheer dollar amount per article. And sometimes it's about how regular the work is. Which clients to keep and which to drop is always a judgment call.
Decide What Matters to You
In the end, my rate isn't as high as some others' rates. I also don't have as many really prestigious bylines as others have. If I'm being honest, a lot of it's because I'm doing easier, jobbing stuff. Working for an agency, writing SEO pieces, and doing stuff that doesn't have a lot of cachet is the path I've chosen.
It's not glamorous, but it pays decent, and I make a living as a writer.
Between being a total sellout as a writer and living in an area with a low cost of living, I have the luxury of doing a relatively small amount of client writing and then spending more time focused on things that provide me with more fulfillment.
You can do the same. Figure out what matters to you. Decide your target, and gradually raise your freelance rate until you get there.