If you’re a freelance writer, it’s highly likely that you will have been faced with the difficult decision at some point in your career of wondering how to increase your freelance rates. One of the most difficult aspects of being a freelance writer is that there are so many possible effects of even suggesting that you are going to increase your rates that most writers spend years producing work for clients for the same rate that they did when they very first started working with them. It comes down to fear.
One of the most prominent reasons why writers do not increase their rates is that they are worried that not only will they be unable to find new clients who are willing to pay their new rate, but that their existing clients will abandon them completely, leaving them with no income whatsoever.
Fortunately, with the right preparation and proper implementation, this does not need to be the case. By abiding by the following four points you should be able to find new clients while continuing to work with your current clients at your increased rate.
1. Ensure your increase is justified
The first thing to keep in mind is that you should have a fully justifiable reason for increasing your freelance writing rates. Simply stating that it is a “sign of the times” or “because of the economic climate” will very rarely ensure that your existing clients remain with you and you should make sure that your clients will see, or have recently seen, some distinct benefits of working with you.
Although these benefits are varied, the most popular is that the quality of the work that is produced for the client is far greater than it was when you first started writing for them. This may be because of courses or workshops that you have attended or simply that you have gained a lot of experience in writing in recent years and this shows in the work that is now being produced.
2. Be truthful with your clients
Assuming that you can fully justify your increase, when you begin discussing the increase with your clients, you must remember to always be completely truthful. As tempting as it can be to add, for example, a heart-warming story to your reasoning for increasing your rates, it is generally considered that the vast majority of clients will be much more appreciative if you were to explain to them directly that your rates are increasing because, for example, the quality of your work has, and the rate increase is a direct reflection of this.
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3. Be flexible
Put yourself in the position of your clients. They’re hiring a freelance writer for $0.50 per word and have been doing so for the past three years without any problems. Then, all of a sudden, the writer says that from next month their rates are going to be increasing to $1.00 per word. Whilst the writer’s reasoning is more than justifiable and the increase was, to a certain extent, expected, it’s not easy to find within a budget twice as much money to continue paying the writer, regardless of how much they are needed.
This is the point where a lot of freelance writers fall down when trying to retain their current clients after a rate increase, as they set their new rate and believe that they must stick to it rigidly. Whilst this may be the case when taking on new clients, it should not be for older clients and you must be willing to have some leeway, such as by having a staggered increase over a set amount of months or taking a new reduced rate if the volume of work was to increase.
4. Be appreciative
Whether they’re a pleasant client or not, if you want to keep them when you increase your rates you must be fully appreciative of them and put into perspective just how much work you complete for them. The old saying that you shouldn’t keep all of your eggs in one basket should be thought of regularly by freelance writers, but some are simply not fortunate enough to have ten or more individual clients who provide them with an income and they may rely heavily on only two or three.
If this is the case, it is important that you understand the implications for you personally if you were to lose a client as you did not appreciate the amount of work produced for them and were not flexible with them when increasing your rates, meaning that they decided not to continue working with you at your higher rate, which in turn substantially affects your turnover.
It may seem a simple procedure increasing your freelance writing rates, and for any new clients you begin working with after the increase, it is not a problem. However, for those that you have worked with for some time, it is important that your increase be justified, you are honest and flexible, and you are appreciative of the work that they offer to ensure that you can implement a rate increase without losing any of your existing clients.
This article was originally featured on March, 1, 2010.