Renegotiating Freelance Rates for 2017

Ok, it’s time for a check-in. February has come and gone. How’re you doing on your 2017 resolutions? Each year, many creatives decide that their resolution is to raise their freelance rates. Then they sit around hoping to find better paying clients or that current clients will offer more money. This cycle often forces freelancers to work more hours to meet financial goals.

No one likes to ask for more money, but as freelancers, we have to ask for raises or we won’t make what we’re worth. This article is all about why great freelancers are worth that raise and what they go through to ask for it. They deserve it.

New Skills

man on computer in dark

Image via Flickr by Caden Crawford

Freelancers are rarely sitting still and just creating. Freelancers know that our skills must always be fresh and there’s always some new technique or tech gadget that we have to know about as the next big thing. Freelancers are always learning and that means that our skills are always worth more money than they were yesterday. We must remember:

“I’m not paid for my time, I’m paid for my expertise.”

From writers to designers to content strategists to editors, we’re paid for their expertise. If you’re still not sure, take a few moments now to reflect over what great freelancers in 2016 ask themselves about what they learned.

  • What articles or blogs did I read?

  • What conferences did I attend?

  • What online classes did I take?

  • What topics did I research?

  • What books did I read?

  • What online or social media chats did I participate in?

  • What podcasts did I listen to?

Whew. I don’t know about you, but my list is extensive. If I’m not completing client work, I’m reading, perusing, participating, chatting, or listening to experts talking about the next big thing I need to know.

Client Benefits

One of the easiest ways for a freelancer to sway clients to their side when asking for a raise is to show how they’ve benefited the company. Look for leverage in the analytics.

Say a freelancer has been writing for a company’s blog for six months. Take a peek at the unique visits, clicks, time spent on the site, follows, and shares. Has there been an increase? The client can see how the freelancer’s targeted, SEO-friendly writing has brought in more traffic to their site.

Knowing how the freelancer has benefited the company will not only make it easy for the client to grant a request for a raise, it will also make it easier for the freelancer to feel good about asking for the raise.

Know What You Want

Before a freelancer asks for a raise, we need to take some time to think about what we want. Are we asking to increase our per word pay, per project pay, or hourly wage? All of these can make a big difference, but some more than others. We need to make sure to take time to do some math and find their desired number.

A simple negotiation technique for freelancers to use here is to always ask for more than we want. Everyone likes to feel as if they’re getting a deal, so once a raise is proposed, negotiation is very common. If we ask for more than we want, the client will either accept or negotiate the number down a bit. Either way, we end up where we wanted to.

It’s important for the client to know what they want as well. What are the criteria for a raise? How much can of a raise can you approve? Go into a raise negotiation with a freelancer knowing what you can and can’t do.

Niche Specialization

Once a freelancer has been writing for a specific niche for some time, we might wake up one morning and realize we’re an expert. Being an expert in our niche means we’re highly marketable in that niche.

We’ll keep a close eye on trends within our niche to keep learning and become even more of an expert. Refining and narrowing our niche can increase our hireability in a client’s eyes. Clients want to hire experts.

For those freelancers who are thinking this doesn’t apply to you, it does. Your niche may not be a topic, but a skill. If you’re a designer, there are specific tools and programs that you use. That’s your niche. Instead of using every program on the market, specialize. Become an expert in an area and market yourself as having that specialty to increase your freelance rates.

Consider Your Friends

Freelancers are often our own biggest critics and that can cloud our judgement on whether we’re worth a raise or not. We have to take an objective look at their skills and realize just how valuable those skills are. This is something you may relate to if you’ve ever thought about asking increase in your freelance rates. If your friend was thinking about getting a raise and wasn’t sure if she was worth it, what would you tell her? You’d tell her she deserves it!

If you’re a freelancers struggling with this exercise, you can take a fellow freelancer out for a coffee or a cocktail and ask them what your admirable skills are. Make a list and post it in your office as a reminder of just how talented and worthy you are.

Be Confident

I know, captain obvious tip. Truly, one of the most important aspects of a freelancer asking for a raise is being certain that we deserve it and confidently making the request. If we believe you deserve the raise, so will the client! Most people feel more confident when they’re prepared so freelancers should take steps so they feel prepared. Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice your “speech” with a friend

  • Have notes on what you want to say

  • Break down the numbers: do the math on how you’ve brought value to the company and how much this raise will cost the company

  • Take a power pose before your conversation to give you a confidence boost

  • Read articles on negotiation tips

  • Research what a salary is for a full-time employee who does your job. Calculate their hourly rate

If your quality freelancers are asking for a raise, just know, they’re worth it. Being a freelancer is hard. Many freelancers and creatives are underpaid because they simply don’t know what they’re worth. With a little research and a little confidence, they can reach that ideal rate they’ve been dreaming of so they can feel even better giving you the great content you deserve.

About the author

Page Grossman

Freelance writer, banisher of Lorem Ipsum, grammar perfectionist, AP Style guru, SEO sensationalist and part-time world traveler. I've written for a wide-variety of clients, but always return to my passion of writing about business aspects of being a digital nomad such as budgeting, paying taxes, time management, being a female entrepreneur, and how to get from place to place. I love my job because I get to write every day, I can work from anywhere in the world, I'm always learning and I get to teach yoga on the side. What's not to love?