Are you getting paid what you’re worth as a freelancer?
You might think so, but it’s more likely that you — like many freelancers — are charging much less than what your clients are willing to pay. This is especially true if you do excellent work (and I’m guessing that you do).
The primary reason freelancers are undercharging is simple — we’re scared to do it. We worry that the work that we are doing isn’t good enough or that we aren’t experienced enough to charge more. We worry that if we raise our rates, then all of our clients will run away.
Fear is normal … but it should be ignored
It’s natural to have these fears and worries as a freelancer. After all, getting the next paying client is what keeps us in business. However, while having fear is fine, letting it hold you and your business back is not. To help you overcome freelancing fear and self-doubt — and grow your business — here are three strategies for overcoming fear and raising your rates.
1. The time is now
A classic freelance mistake is to wait until the right time or the right client to raise your rates. The problem, of course, is that it’s never the right time. If you’re looking for excuses, then you’ll always find them. And if you continue to wait, then you’re leaving money on the table. It takes guts, but one day you’re going to need to make the jump. The sooner that day comes the better off you will be.
If you need inspiration, then talk to other freelancers who have raised their rates and see what they say. If they’re anything like the people I talk to, they’ll tell you that they wish they would have bumped up their prices a long time ago.
2. Plan fear out of your business
If jumping into the deep end right away seems too bold for you, then you can always schedule your rate increases just like you schedule paying your bills or your editorial calendar.
In fact, it’s often easy to eliminate the fear of raising your rates by planning to increase your prices over time. For example, you could schedule a rate increase after the next 10 clients. So when client number 11 rolls in the door, you already know that you’ll be charging $20 more. Or set a date when you will raise your rates.
If you make rate raising a scheduled business decision, then it’s easier to take the fear and emotion out of it. And that’s how it should be. Raising rates is just part of business. As you get more talented, more skilled, and more experienced, you should charge like it.
3. Try price tiers
A simple option for easing your way into higher rates is using price tiers. Price tiers are simply different pricing options that your clients can choose from — and you might be surprised how often they choose the higher options.
For example, instead of offering your services for $40 per hour, you could offer a basic service for $40 and a premium service for $60. Once you have a few clients pay for the premium service, you might feel comfortable enough to scrap the basic offering and raise your regular rate to $60 per hour. And you can go upward from there.
A final word of advice
Don’t make rate raising a personal or emotional decision. It’s a business decision. I’ll leave you with a quote from my friend and fellow freelancer, James Chartrand:
I’ve raised my rates at least 40 times, if not more. Raising rates is a natural part of business, and I don’t have any feelings‚ about it, really. Having emotional attachment to rate setting is detrimental.
In business, you set rates based on the value you provide to clients and the results you bring to them, that’s all. And when you provide more value or more results, you raise your rates and charge accordingly.
For more rate raising tips, check out this interview series with a wide range of successful freelancers.