Why You Should Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates Right Now

November is one of my favorite months. It’s not because of the impending holidays, though.

It’s because this is the best time of year for freelance writers to get a raise.

Why?

If you notify your existing clients of your new, higher rates now — but make them effective Jan. 1 — that is the optimal strategy for getting your raise accepted.

Don’t ask for too much, where it freaks them out. Maybe 5 percent or 10 percent is ideal.

It’s not likely clients will give you a 50 percent or 100 percent raise. If they’re paying you peanuts, realize it’ll be easier to find a better-paying client and then drop your low-payer.

Why this raise plan works

With the small raise, the pain to your client is much less than the pain of having to start over and train a new writer to know everything about their business, topic, or reader.

And the 6-week lead time means they make a note to budget a little more in the future…and then basically forget about it. They don’t have to pay it now, so it goes off their radar.

You also seem professional by giving them all that notice that the rate hike is coming.

You can see my whole pitch script for exactly how to phrase your raise proposal over on a guest post I did for Freelance Switch — How to Raise Your Freelance Pay Rates in the Next 60 Days.

Why the time is now — anytime

Even if you’re reading this at a different time of year than November, you should realize that now is the time to raise your rates.

Here are five big reasons why:

  1. Rising costs. Consumer-goods prices are rising (check out corn and oil these days, for instance), so you need a raise just to keep your standard of living the same. If you’re not raising, your quality of life is actually going downhill.
  2. Growing knowledge. If you’ve been with a client for a year or more, your value to them has increased, as you’ve learned more about what they do. You should earn more to reflect that. The anniversary date of when you started with them is another great time to negotiate for a higher rate.
  3. You’re underpriced. Most new freelance writers tend to bid way too low — I see this all the time. The only way to start rectifying this problem is to ask for raises. If you’re really low, you’ll be surprised how many clients readily accept your higher rates for next year.
  4. It’s normal. Most other service providers regularly raise their rates, on everything from housecleaning to transcribing to cable TV service. Why should you be the exception?
  5. Better writing. You’re a more experienced writer than you were a year ago. So you should adjust your vision of the pay level you are entitled to. Start targeting better-quality clients and asking for more.

The easiest way to get a raise

If the idea of asking your current clients for a raise terrifies you (or you know they only pay that one, low rate no matter what), you can still start earning more.

Just raise your rates for new clients.

They never paid the old rate, so they’ll never know the difference.

Will you raise your rates for 2013? Leave a comment and let us know.

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18 comments on “Why You Should Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates Right Now
  1. Cila says:

    I am returning to full-time freelancing in February, after a year in a “proper job”. Knowing what to charge, and having the confidence to ask for the money I’m worth, has been a major problem for me in the past. My resolution for 2013 is to set higher rates and stick to them, and to do the necessary marketing to find good clients who are willing to pay for quality.
    Cila recently posted..How To Be Free

  2. Hi Carol,

    I love the idea of raising rates at this time of the year. I think it’s also a nice thing to give clients enough time to prepare for this raise by making it effective only from Jan 1 2013.

    I have to admit that being used to serve local clients and rates in South Africa being totally different to that of the rest of the world, I am still trying to come to terms with the industry norm going at it globally.

    If I can give you a quick example of how rates differ. I am able to provide my clients with cloud shared hosting with unlimited resources including unlimited domains per personal account at only $5 per month since I switched to international servers.

    Locally, I’m not even sure they offer unlimited domains in any package with a whole bunch of other resource limitations at anything from $17 per month and upwards.

    Sadly, this is also the truth for other services like professional copywriting and the likes.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Ruan | FreelanceWritingTactics recently posted..Social Bookmarking Sites: 5 Reasons Why Freelance Writers Should Use Them

  3. J. Delancy says:

    Thanks Carol. As always the bogeyman of low confidence will try to have an input on what I should charge, but I certainly intend to find better paying clients in 2013.
    J. Delancy recently posted..Speech Writer Confessions (part 2): The Power of Self-Deception

  4. Amandah says:

    I will raise my rates in 2013 and step up my efforts to pitch my screenplays, fiction and non-fiction books. I’ve spoken with two publishers; I’m waiting to hear back from them. Since it’s November, I’ve kicked it into high gear thanks in part to NaNoWriMo. :)
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

  5. I’ve found clients surprisingly receptive to rate raises at any time of year. Wish I’d known that when I first started freelancing! One of my clients who paid me 10 cents per word back then is still hiring me today at several times that rate – paid in advance, every week, without fail.

    I definitely agree with your point that good clients value an ongoing relationship with someone who already has experience of the job, and they’d rather raise the pay than start all over again with a new freelancer.

  6. Can I sue you for plagiarizing my thoughts? Although I hadn’t put it all together in a nice, neat package as you have done, I’ve been internally composing a blog just like this one for weeks. What you suggest is exactly what I did in 2012 and as a result, my income for 2012 was nearly double that of 2011. Before you start thinking I’m rolling in money, though, 2011 was the year I left the bidding site/content mill rut, but it wasn’t until later in the year that I discovered just how appalling the rates I was getting were. In the coming year, I’m going to try to catch some of the bigger fish and hopefully double my income again.
    Rob Schneider recently posted..The State of the Freelance Writing Market According to Elance

  7. This plan makes all the sense in the world; I almost feel like it was written specifically for me. ; )

    I have this client who I really, really enjoy working with, and who was one of my first reliable, consistent clients when I was first starting out in my freelance business. We’ve been working together a little over two years now, and I know her business almost inside/out at this point (I also manage her social media and do a few other web marketing things for her). And I’m still making the same amount as two years ago.

    This is totally on me however, as every time I think about raising my rates, for all the reasons you mention — growing knowledge of her business and her industry, increased skill in real estate writing, the other value-added web marketing things I do for her — I flinch a little, because I know she’s on a budget (but who isn’t, right?), and has cut other freelancers’ hours over the last few months. Meanwhile, she gave me extra hours because of particular skills I have that other freelancers she uses don’t have. All good reasons to ask for a rate increase, I know. But for some reason I have this huge mental block about asking her for more money. May need therapy to figure that one out. ; )

    So I’m thinking the way you suggest approaching it by making it an increase effective January 1, 2013 is the way to go. Like you mention, other service providers regularly raise their rates, so it only makes sense. Thanks for this wise, actionable approach to getting a raise.
    Kimberly Houston recently posted..5 Things I Never Expected When I Started My Freelance Writing Business

    • Kimberly, I was in exactly the same position you describe. When I finally did work up the courage to ask for a raise, the client was happy to give it to me but cut down on my assignments because of their budget limits. The result is that I’m making the same money per week but have less of a workload from that client.

      It sounds like you have a good relationship with your client, so they’re not likely to dump you if you politely ask for more. You may not get what you want, but then again, you never know till you ask.
      Rob Schneider recently posted..The State of the Freelance Writing Market According to Elance

  8. This is timely advice. Thanks. Whether you decide to increase rates with new clients, or with existing ones, five to ten percent is only equal to a cost of living raise some businesses offer employees. I like the idea of giving yourself a raise, and doing it ahead of when it will take place.
    Peter D. Mallett recently posted..Writing: Shorts, Stats, and Sales

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s really magical, when you’re a businessperson and you’re told a price hike is coming in 75 days vs NOW.

      Now, I go wait a minute, I can’t pay that! 75 days I think, “Oh, maybe I should do something about that. Put that on my mile-long to-do list.” Then I don’t do anything about it and accept it when the bill comes. It’s my bad that I didn’t go find and train up a new freelancer. I don’t have time, so now I pay a little more. Everyone understands that.

      I actually just went through that with my healthcare, which I got the notice it would go up and went, OH, I need to cost-compare this around again…and then I couldn’t get around to it, and I’m just paying the higher premium. You can take advantage of that exact same syndrome as a freelancer.

  9. Brankica says:

    Haven’t thought of this, especially not in the terms of a calendar year, but I am definitely going to do this. I planned to cut out some of the services and stress out those I prefer, so increasing the prices is going to fit that perfectly. Thanks for the reminder ;)
    Brankica recently posted..33 Actionable Steps for Blog Improvement in ONE WEEK

  10. Tracey says:

    I have a regular client like Kimberley’s who I’ve been with since March. I’m going to use this approach to let him know the rate will go up come March 2013 – that’s after a year together. Totally reasonable, imho..

  11. This year, I set an advance date for my rate increases at 6 April. This is the date the official new tax year starts here in the UK, so it kind of makes sense.
    I perhaps put my rates up by a little bit too much, which was about 15%. As a result, I did lose a little bit of work.
    But did I regret it? Absolutely not.
    Instead of doing lots of work for what seemed like peanuts, I at least felt as if I was earning decent money on the actual work I was doing.
    With the free time I gained from losing some work, I finally found time to develop my own business.
    And through spending the time wisely, by rebranding, setting up a website and marketing my services, I finally feel that I actually have a business.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted..Website marks launch of new SEO copywriting service

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Why You Should Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates Right Now"
  1. […] to Carol Tice, the resident expert at Make a Living Writing, the best time to ask for a raise from clients is in mid-November, which makes NOW the perfect time to inform and negotiate for a […]

  2. […] Carol Tice makes the case for raising your rates right now. […]

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