If you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, you’ll love having the ability to set your own hours and rates. You may also find it a little awkward to negotiate with clients and ask for more money. Knowing how to ask clients for a higher rate is not something we grow up learning about.
Most of us are happy to land our first job at whatever hourly rate or salary our boss deems worthy. But when you work for yourself, you will constantly be challenged with the task of having to ask clients for a higher rate whether you’re seeking a raise or need to increase your prices to match the difficulty of the work.
It takes practice and a winning strategy to help smooth out these conversations you’ll have. Here are some easy ways to smooth out the process with existing clients.
Prove Your Worth
If you want to feel more comfortable with being able to ask clients for a higher rate, focus on proving your worth and overdelivering on value. Set yourself apart from other freelancers if you want to get paid more by going the extra mile and delivering exceptional work.
If you’re able to get your clients certain results and help them reach important business goals and milestones, this can make it easier to ask clients for a higher rate. When you’re clients are successful and doing well, they can have more wiggle room to pay you more. Not to mention, you can very well earn your rate with the quality you deliver and attention to detail.
Give a Reason
When I ask clients for a higher rate, I sometimes offer a specific reason so the request doesn’t seem to come out of left field. In the past, I’ve taken on projects where I’ve quoted something or agreed to a rate with a client only to find out the work was much more than I’d anticipated.
Instead of continuing to accept the lower pay, I’d invoice for the initial project but mention that I’d need to raise prices for similar projects in the future. Be sure to explain how your process was broken down and identify the additional work you did if you feel it deserves a higher rate.
If you have any other reasons for requesting a higher payment, be honest with clients and communicate that to them.
Tell, Don’t Ask
This may seem very bold, but you can always simply tell clients that you’ll be raising your rates instead of asking for permission. Remember, you are your own boss and can choose to raise rates as you see fit.
One thing you can do is initiate a rate increase once a year and give clients plenty of time in advance to approve it or end the contract. Due to inflation, the rise of the cost of living, and tax increases, you should be raising your rates every 12 months or so anyway.
Realize that some clients may not be able to afford your rate increase and that’s okay. Losing a client or two may open up more time and energy to pursue new clients who can afford your new rates.
Don’t feel bad or awkward when the time comes to ask clients for a higher rate. If the new rate is earned and seems reasonable, it will be received well by clients and well deserved. Also as a general tip, seek to work with clients who will pay you well for what you’re worth and have your best interest at heart.