When you first get started as a freelancer, you probably don’t charge top-dollar. When you’re new in your industry, you probably don’t have the experience or credibility to attract high-end clients and charge appropriately.

However, there is an organic turning point for every successful, developing freelancer, when it is suddenly obvious that something is wrong with your business – you run out of time too quickly, and you’re not making enough money. Are you the problem? Probably not. It’s most likely time to raise your prices, in order to attract and retain fewer and better clients, so that your schedule is more realistic.

What are four signs that you’re ready to make that change?

You Have Accrued a Strong Backlog of Testimonials and Happy Clients, and Your Clients Regularly Refer You

This is a great feeling. One day, you look at your website, and you realize that your testimonials page is booming. You have done great work, and you’re proud of it. Your clients are happy, and they are your best free advertising.

Sometimes, this is an indication that it’s time to raise your prices so that your income is commensurate to the level of fine work that you’re performing. Raising your prices, within a reasonable spectrum, reflects the quality of your work.

Some of Your Clients Are Becoming Excessively High-Maintenance

This, on the other hand, is not a good feeling. It may seem like some of your clients have become incredibly high-maintenance, but the reality is that they were probably like that all along. You are only noticing it now, against the backdrop of better quality clients that you have attracted over time.

Raising your prices will probably help to weed out lower-quality clients who have unreasonable expectations for your energy and time. Higher prices communicate a more elite, exclusive level of service, and only the clients who value those qualities will stay with you after the transition.

You Keep Losing Track of Information or Details

This is probably because you have too many clients and, even though you may not actively feel “stressed,” your mind cannot retain the amount of information with which you are bombarding it.

Raising your prices naturally means that a few clients will not be able to continue working with you. While this may sound like a negative aspect, the reality is that you probably need to work with less clients in order to keep everything organized.

On the other hand, raising your prices may also mean that you could afford to hire an independent contractor to take over some aspect of your business, like accounting or advertising. This may allow you to attract more clients, but have a better system for handling them.

You Find Yourself Feeling Overwhelmed or Too Busy

Do you go through each week feeling constantly behind? Do you have difficulty fulfilling your responsibilities on a daily or weekly basis? While re-tooling your organization skills or giving yourself more time off may help, the bottom line may be that you are doing too much.

Again, a raise in prices often causes a temporary dip in clientele. However, be sure to change your prices so that if you lost 10%-20% of your clients, you would still be making more money than you were before. Having less clients and more time will help you to deliver a better service or product, and will help you to feel less overwhelmed by deadlines.

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William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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