Many creative types find it hard to talk about money. Creative work, by nature, requires emotional risk and self-expression just to get something down on paper. Arguing the value of your work then can feel like arguing the value of your worth as a person.
But one thing that’s not up for debate — that you should charge what you’re worth. It’s way too easy to set a price and forget about it, even when all signs point to “yes, you are worth more”. So, here are five signs that tell you it’s time to raise your freelance writing rates.How to Know It's Time to Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates Click To Tweet
Raise your freelance writing rates when…
You haven’t raised your rates in a while (or ever!)
As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to review your business once a year. Take stock of how satisfied you are with your niche, your offerings, your quality of work, the direction of your career, and your income. These factors will help you decide whether to maintain or increase your asking price.
Make it your business policy to review each year. This way, you’re more likely to actually do it. Remember, raising your rates is how you stay financially healthy as you grow professionally, improve your craft, develop your services, and cope with the rising cost of living.
You’re overrun with work
You have more on your to-do list than you have time for. You’re shying away from blog writing jobs and others that seem perfect for you. Congratulations, you’re in high demand. If you’re not seeing your bank balance go up accordingly, it’s probably time to think about raising your rates.
Sure, it feels pointless if you’re too busy to take on more work, but consider that you might be swamped because you come too cheap. After all, who wouldn’t cash in on such a good deal?
Try this: before turning down your next gig because your schedule’s too full, open the negotiation with how much it would take to get you to say yes (be reasonable, for yourself and your prospective client), and when you’d be willing to start.Before turning down a gig because of a full schedule, know how much you want to charge. Click To Tweet
A high-profile client considers hiring you
You’ve done it — you’ve reached out to a big client and they’ve reached back, asking for your rates. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! But then the fear hits. You know they’ll expect a lot. You’re thinking back to when you last bit down for a tough gig; the stress, the exhaustion. Suddenly, you’re not sure you’re up to the task. You’re tempted to keep your rates low so you’re more likely to get hired.
Don’t fall into this trap. Sure, your rates may be up for negotiation, but don’t sell yourself short. Remember, you probably aren’t the only one competing for this desirable client. Even if you don’t win this gig, the fact that they got in touch speaks volumes about the quality of your output. This alone should silence your inner critic when it says you’re not good enough to charge more next time.
You’ve become an expert
You’re so immersed in your field, you know what answers people want before they even think to ask. You know your niche so well, you can forecast hurdles and create strategies for dealing with them. You’ve received recognition, attained certification, or coached someone to success. You are, by all accounts, an expert — even if you don’t feel like one.
True experts don’t come around often. It takes a lot to become one. You’ve invested significant time, energy and money to get to where you are. So you deserve to see returns on that investment.
Raising your rates on the basis of expertise requires proof. Ensure your CV and portfolio showcase your best work, your track record and your qualifications, so new clients know they’re dealing with an experienced professional. And when it comes to your current clients, don’t be afraid to assert the quality you’ve already demonstrated when notifying them of your price change.
You’re starting to burn out
I once knew a writer whose only freelance client kept him loaded with work, usually dropped on him at the last minute. The real tragedy was that they low-balled him on his rate and refused to let him mention the work in his portfolio.
In the early days of your career, a low rate can help you get experience in the business, but it’s not a sustainable way to do business. This writer was fast approaching burnout. He hated his work, resented his client, and was too busy to reach for better opportunities — yet none of his output could contribute to his professional brand. But just before he said goodbye, he took a chance on raising his rates. They accepted.
His story had a happy ending. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Though every client will claim to care about quality, not all of them will be willing to pay for it. They simply won’t value you enough. So are they really worth burning out for?
Spoiler alert: they’re not. Raise your rates. At best, you’ll get paid better for the time you spend. At worst, you’ll break up with a client getting an easy ride at your expense.
This post was written by Nancy Christinovich, a content strategist and blogger behind www.plagiarismcheck.org. Specializing in freelance writing, data research, and content creation, she never stops learning and improving her writing skills.
Sandi Sonnenfeld says
Most freelance writers charge way too little overall–so much so that newbies are willing to take a blog writing job for as little as $25. That’s not $25 a hour–that $25 total for researching and writing a 250-word blog. Any serious business communicator will spend at least three hours writing a blog–mostly on research to ensure that they come across as a trusted expert. Even if you know your topic–eg. are somewhat of a technology or a health care expert–that doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about a particular industry or topic, so you certainly will need to do credible research, including perhaps interviewing others. Then you need about an hour to write and an hour to edit (I write long and then edit back to get to the right word count, so that I don’t feel stifled by the word count constraint). On the upside, my approach means that my clients rarely request any substantial edits. My point is that because newbies and established writers alike are willing to work for cheap, it undermines and depresses the market for all of us. I charge $100 an hour for return clients; and $125 hr for one-time projects. My large corporate clients are happy to pay it as they would pay far more if they had to hire a full-time content developer and PR strategist who has an advance writing degree and 20 years of experience like me. But I don’t get much work from smaller companies or agencies and that’s problematic because large corporate clients are hard to come by. But I just can’t justify accepting an assignment from a client that doesn’t pay me more than what I could earn at the local mall–as any paying work I accept takes away from the time I have to work on my own creative work. My advice to younger writers: stop selling us and the industry short. If we all refuse to write for a measley $11 or $15 an hour or less (particularly if you live in or near a major city), clients will have no choice but to begin to pay us what we are worth–
Some day you too will be a writer with hundreds of bylined articles and op/eds and posts to her credit–and beleive me you will be really upset when a client has the nerve to offer you $25 to write 250 words on the history of plumbing.