How to Raise Your Rates as a Freelance Writer – Here’s Everything You Need to Know [Includes Email Template]
If you freelance – whether that’s writing, editing, mentoring, or offering any other type of writing service to clients – there will come a time when you want to raise your rates.
This is a normal, and inevitable, part of doing business. But it can also be something that freelancers really struggle with. “I’m going to start charging you more” feels like an awkward conversation to have … plus, what if your client says they then can’t afford to hire you any longer?
Why ALL Freelancers Need to Raise Their Rates (Eventually)
Maybe you’re thinking it’d just be easiest to stick with your current rate … forever. Or maybe you feel like it’s not appropriate for you to charge more: you’re still providing the same service.
There are several reasons why you’ll need – or at the very least, want! – to raise your rates periodically:
#1: When you first start freelancing, you may not have much experience to draw upon. Hopefully, your work will be perfectly competent … but it might not be great. After months or even years of freelancing, you’ll have far more experience. Your work will be more valuable to your client.
#2: If you charge an hourly rate, chances are, you’re ending up getting paid less and less for the results you provide. Perhaps when you first started working for a client, it took you two hours to write, format and upload each blog post for them; now, you’re able to complete a post in an hour and a half. This means you’ve gone from being paid (say) $100 dollars per post to being paid $75 dollars per post.
#3: Today, 100 dollars is worth less (in purchasing value) than 100 dollars last year. Think of all the things that go up in price at least a little each year: food, rent, meals out … as a freelancer, it’s perfectly normal to raise your rate periodically to account for this.
What if Your Client Stops Hiring You?
One big fear that freelancers have about raising their rates is that their existing clients might say “Sorry, I can’t afford you anymore. I’ll have to find someone else.”
This is unlikely to happen, unless you’re raising your rates dramatically. If someone has enjoyed working with you, they’ll probably be very happy to pay an extra 10% or so to keep you! Otherwise, they’d have to go through the hassle of finding another writer (editor/mentor/etc) and getting used to working with them instead.
If you’re really concerned about this, though, then it makes sense to raise your rates for one client at a time. That way, if several do suddenly ditch you, you can rethink for the next few.
How Do You Know When You Should Raise Your Rates?
Good signs that it’s time to increase your rates include:
#1: You’ve been freelancing for two or more years and haven’t yet raised your rates (or it’s been two or more years since you last did so). This probably means you’re not charging what you’re currently worth.
#2: You’re fully booked and turning away clients. Even if one of your current clients decides not to hire you any longer, you’ll have other clients who’ll be more than glad to take their place. Being consistently fully booked, or having a long lead time for taking on new clients, usually means you’re not charging enough.
#3: You’re making a low hourly rate. A very rough rule of thumb is that your hourly rate should be at least twice your country’s minimum hourly wage. So, if the minimum wage is £9.50/hour, which is roughly what it is here in the UK, you should charge £19/hour or more.
You should, most likely, be charging significantly more than this, however. Keep in mind that you won’t be billing for every single hour you work (you’ll be marketing yourself, doing admin, answering emails, and so on). Plus, you’ll need to cover taxes and potentially costs like health insurance.
How to Raise Your Freelancing Rates [Email Template]
I always raise my rates by email (because virtually all my communication with my clients is by email). This also has the advantage of putting things clearly in writing, and giving your client a chance to reflect and respond.
Here’s a template email you can use:
I’m really enjoying working with you on [project].
I wanted to give you some advance notice that from January 1st, my hourly rate is going up from [current rate] to [new rate]. This will be reflected in my January invoice (which I’ll send in the first week of February, as usual).
Hope this doesn’t pose any problems for you, and all best wishes,
Situations Where It’s Easy to Start Charging More as a Freelancer
There are some situations where it’s fairly easy to raise your freelancing rates, and you may want to start with these if they’re appropriate to you.
Raising Your Rate for New Clients
Ready to take on new clients? Update the figures on your website (if you include your rate there) and simply start charging more! Your new clients won’t know what you charged before, and they won’t know what you’re charging others either – so it’s fine to keep your existing clients on the old rate temporarily.
In fact, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from charging different rates for different clients. I currently have four different rates, varying from $0.10/word to $0.20/word, depending on the complexity of the projects (and, if I’m honest, on what my clients will pay).
Dropping Lower Paying Clients and Keeping Higher Paying Ones
Over the past few years, I’ve gradually dropped some clients as new, higher-paying ones have come in. This is a good way to raise your rates if you have a client who pays a set amount to all their freelancers. (We’ll come onto that as an issue in a moment.) You might be able to get a little more than their standard pay – I moved one client up from $0.05/word to $0.06/word a few years ago – but you’re probably not going to be able to double it.
Of course, do give clients some notice that you’ll need to finish working with them: don’t just ghost them! You can certainly offer them the chance to hire you at your new rate, but assume that, for many clients with a standard rate, it simply won’t work within their budget.
Charging Per Project
One great reason to charge clients per project (e.g. per blog post) rather than per hour is because it means you’re effectively getting an hourly raise as you get more efficient. For instance, if you get paid $75 for a 1000 word blog post and that initially takes you two hours to write, then you’re making $37.50 per hour. If you then speed up so you can complete that blog post in an hour and a half, you’re making $50 per hour. From your client’s point of view, they’re getting the exact same result!
(Of course, it’s still perfectly reasonable and normal to put up your per project rate from time to time too.)
Situations Where It’s Tricky to Raise Your Rates
Sometimes, you may be in a position where it’s best to hang on a bit before raising your rates – or where you know there’s a chance your client simply won’t be able to pay you the new rate.
Your Client is Fairly New
If you only started working for someone four months ago, at an agreed-on rate of $50 per blog post, it would be a bit unusual to suddenly start charging more. I’d suggest raising your rate once per year at most for ongoing work.
(It’s a bit different if you’ve done a single project for someone and they’ve later hired you for a new project. In that situation, it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “My rates have gone up slightly since we last worked together. I now charge…”)
Your Client Has One Rate for All Their Freelancers
Sometimes, you’re writing for a client who uses multiple freelancers and pays them all a standard rate for a specific amount of writing. (I’m thinking particularly of writing for large blogs or print publications here.) While some will have room for negotiation, others may have a rate that you either take or leave!
If this is the case, it’s up to you how you want to proceed. You could tell your client that you want to be paid more per post / per article – but you may find they simply say “sorry, we can’t do that”. As mentioned above, it’s often easiest to be prepared to drop these clients as you take on higher-paid ones.
Whatever your own situation, though, remember it’s very normal for freelancers to raise their rates from time to time. Clients will expect it and be used to it, if they work with other freelancers. They won’t be surprised, and they certainly won’t be offended, by you asking for more money.
(If you do encounter any pushback, that’s a reflection on your client’s lack of professionalism … not on you.)
If you don’t ever increase what you charge, you’re putting yourself and your client in a difficult position. You’ll end up resenting the work you’re doing – or potentially cutting corners so you can get their work done in the minimum time possible.
While asking for more money can feel awkward, in my experience, it will almost always go very smoothly, and the financial rewards are definitely worth it.
So if you’ve been thinking about charging more but hesitating, I’d encourage you to give it a try with one of your clients this week. Good luck!
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
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