Freelancers: How can you raise your rates with existing clients
Even though negotiating an hourly rate is always a complex issue for a freelancer, it becomes even more challenging when you want to raise your rates with existing clients! However, nothing is ever set in stone and there are methods that can help to ensure that these negotiations go smoothly.
1. Negotiate with a high rate
First and foremost, bear in mind that all freelancers owe it to themselves to set a “rate floor.” In other words, this is their minimum hourly rate. Once this rate has been set, there is room for maneuver based on the client and the particular project. As such, during the early stages of negotiating a contract, it is recommended that you open discussions based on the upper end of your rate range: the unshakeable logic of negotiations means that, if you open with an hourly rate of $50, even if you agree to revise it downwards, your rate will always be higher than if you had opened with a $40 starting position!
2. Increase your rate as your skills develop
Increasing your rates can be justified early in your freelance career as you acquire new skills. The first quality required of the self-employed is curiosity! As such, over the course of the months and as your experience grows, you will learn and gain new skills. Then, as your expertise develops, the more you will learn to specialize and the higher your rate should be!
3. Changes in the services that your offer
The services that you offer should also develop in parallel. Experience will help there as well; it’s likely that you will be able to expand your range of services. For example, a freelance copywriter who starts out with skills in editing and translation can train to manage websites and offer this as an additional service (being able to update the website directly, saving time and effort for the client). By acquiring this new skill, the freelance contractor can fully justify an increased hourly rate.
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4. Low supply but high demand
As with any sector, the freelance working sector is subject to the laws of supply and demand. As the market develops, it is therefore legitimate to increase your prices. For example, imagine that you are overloaded with work (and rightfully so: because you provide a high-quality service), it’s only reasonable to suggest a price rate increase to your clients. Similarly, if a client requests that work is delivered urgently, your rates should be adjusted to reflect this.
5. Managing your client relationship
Managing the “client relationship” (or rather, the contractual relationship) can also be a reason for a freelancer to charge higher rates. Indeed, once you’ve been working for a particular client, you will have learned to anticipate that client’s goals and to meet them more effectively. This ability to put yourself in the client’s shoes provides a genuine added value and is a reason to rebalance your rates.
6. What if the client rejects the rate increase?
Unfortunately, there is no miracle formula. Any rate increase must be both justified and justifiable. In other words, if your rates change (in line with your skills and the quality of the service that you offer), some clients will not follow you. Indeed, you may no longer be within their budget, and, therefore, you’ll no longer meet their expectations. However, that is completely normal: an increase in your rate means changing your offer and therefore entering a new marketplace. Losing clients along the way is, therefore, a fact of life.
In short, there is nothing that prevents you from discussing possible rate increases, as long as you can justify the change – in which case, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from negotiating!