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Guide: How To Increase Price as a Freelancer
Editor’s Note: This is a contributed post from Addison Duvall, author of Food Identities, a blog that explores the intersection of food, design and culture. She has written a number of things, designed other things, and ate a lot.
As a freelancer, increasing your rates beyond a certain point is essential not only for your growth as a creative entrepreneur, but also for the quality of customers that you have access to. The cheaper you are willing to work, the less interest you will attract from high-profile clients. No top-shelf customer will want to work with someone who is cheap. Why? Because to them it means that you probably aren’t very good.
Psychologically, something happens in our brains when we see a product or service for sale on the cheap. We automatically devalue it – even if it is of good value. That is why it is extremely important as a designer not to be seen as the cheap solution
It’s incredibly difficult to get out of that rut once you’re in it. But don’t worry, we’ll get over it how to overcome that hurdle and gain access to the quality customers you deserve.
Don’t ask what your customer can do for you …
This is how most freelancers try to increase their rates. They start with a nice, somewhat timid email that goes something like this:
Hi So-and-So, I just want to let you know that I am going to increase my rates. Sorry to have to do this, but you know how it is.
Okay, maybe it’s not exactly there words, but that’s the general idea.
There’s a reason this doesn’t fly to many customers, and it’s not because they’re all cheap skates that don’t understand the value of your work. The reason this approach rarely works well is because your client has mental health you locked up as being “worth” a certain amount of money.back to menu ↑
What is your value?
They probably didn’t do it maliciously, but regardless, that’s how they see you. Your value amount for X dollar amount. The way to get around this hurdle is to approach your customers from a values-based perspective, rather than a money-based one.
Rather than simply announcing that you are going to increase your rates, think about the kind of value you can offer your customers that will make them want to pay more.back to menu ↑
If you don’t know the answer, ask them to complete a customer survey. If you’ve done customer surveys before, make it a little different. In this survey you try to find out what your customer’s main concerns are in their business
Focus on what they need; ask what you could do to make their business more successful.back to menu ↑
A bit more
After you learn what your customer is specifically looking for in terms of value, it’s time to send them an email with information about your rate change.back to menu ↑
First of all, remind your customer exactly what you’ve already done to provide value. This is crucial for establishing yourself as a freelancer who has been a significant asset for the success of your customer. (This is your time to brag, so be specific). You didn’t just design a website, a logo or a brand image. YOU revived their business: helped them improve their traffic flow, increase their visibility, helped them make more money.
Based on your survey results, which you’ve hopefully done with all of your current and recent customers, you’ve gotten a sense of the common things that the majority of your customers are looking for. The next thing to include in your email is sort of recognition of this needback to menu ↑
This becomes your ‘bait’, as it were – you’re going to bring in the customer based on this next offer. If your customers are really looking for a specific way to get more Twitter followers, for example, give it a try offer them that one service for freeThat’s right, this is one time when working for free is really going to be an advantage.
The purpose of this offer is not to give away valuable services for free. You want to limit it to just one service offering for a limited number of hours. Just a taste of the value they’ll be getting at your newly adjusted rate.
If this is the case now a good customer with whom you have had a good runlet them know. You helped them with some very important parts of their business: their online presence, their brand, their reputation with their customers. This makes you and your customer part of the same earning team.back to menu ↑
Make the announcement
So now you have detailed exactly what you have done for your customer so far. You have offered to provide even more value in the future. You have laid the groundwork to announce your new higher rateBe clear about what your rates are now and what they will be in the near future. This is no time to go limp or shy, no excuses or excuses are necessary – or appropriate.
You work very hard to provide a valuable service to your customers. If you really think you deserve a raise, your client will believe that too. If you don’t believe you deserve a raise, they will believe it tooSo be firm and give a firm ‘no’ to bargaining offers. If this means losing one or two customers, then so be it. You may be able to refer them to another service provider that better suits their price range.back to menu ↑
The icing on the cake
But don’t just stop there! There is one more important step to close the deal and get your customers excited about giving you more money. The final some of your email would be some sort plan of action that you intend to take in the next 2 weeks, 30 days, 3 months, or whatever time block you think is appropriate for the job you are doing.
Give your customer something to look forward to so that he can immediately see the benefit of keeping you aroundHow long would it take them to find another designer who is just as organized and dedicated as you? If they are a valuable customer, they don’t want to find out.
Why take the time to find someone cheaper to do an inferior job when they have a superstar who now offers them the perfect solution? If your customers know they are getting real value, saving real time, generating real revenue, they are less likely to complain about the price.back to menu ↑
If all of this sounds like more work than you may have signed up because in the beginning, that is a good indicator to re-evaluate your relationship to provide value to your customers. If you think about it, you will already be paid a certain rate for the type of work you do.
Logically, there is no reason to charge more money for exactly the same thing you are doing now – go beyond your current level is the only way to confidently ask for a raise. As the saying goes, the more you give, the more you get; and nowhere is that truer than in the freelancer customer dynamic.
What do you think?What strategies do you use to increase your rates? Is there anything you can improve to create the kind of valuable relationship you want with your customers?back to menu ↑
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