How a Newbie Blogger Negotiated a 100 Percent Raise

Newbie Bloggers: Get a 100% RaiseIn early 2016, I landed my first freelance blogging client.

It was a big win for me, even though it wasn’t in my niche. The client reached out to me, after seeing some of my blog posts on Facebook.

But there was a problem. I had no idea what to charge — and the client wanted to know my rate.

I pored over everything I could find online, asked around, and finally settled on a rate of $50 per 500-750 word blog post. I sent the editor my rates, and voila — I had my first contract in place.

I jumped into writing awesome blog content for this client. But it didn’t take long to start second guessing my rate. Was I charging enough for this type of work? What were other writers charging for similar blog content? What would need to happen to raise my rates and keep this client?

If you’ve ever wondered about raising your rates, you’re not alone. I wondered what would happen if I told this blogging client I was raising my rates. Would I lose this steady source of work? Or was there a way I could propose a rate increase that would be accepted?

If I had a crystal ball to see how my client would react to a 100 percent raise increase, I probably would have asked for a raise a lot sooner. I was able to negotiate a 100-percent increase, to $100 per blog post, by following three simple rules:

1. Show up and do quality work

Initially I was nervous about producing quality content for my client. After all, I had only written a few posts for local, family-friendly blogs. Fortunately, the feedback was great on my first blog post.  Positive comments continued to roll in as I submitted more articles.

With consistent assignments, I was able to easily estimate my hourly rate. Each one took about two hours, so I was making around $25 per hour. But I knew pro writers were making $50 to $100 an hour or more, and I wanted to get there.

2. Learn about the landscape

While working with my first client, I continued to research writer pay rates. Based on multiple online sources (including this blog), I was making more than folks writing for the content mills, but I was at the low end of a handful of suggested hourly rates.

I also kept networking and landed two additional writing gigs, where I negotiated project fees at $60/hour. That was a confidence booster that helped me realized I had in-demand writings skills and could command higher rates.

3. Make the request

Ten blog posts in for my first client, I decided to ask for a higher rate. My rationalization was this: I came in at a lower rate as a novice and was able to prove myself as a quality writer who completes work on time.

And if the client says no?

I was going to be OK with it, even if that meant continuing to work at the lower rate, or losing the client to someone who charges less. If asking for a raise meant I would lose the client, I could still walk away happy with some great work experience writing blog posts.

After a lot of back-and-forth about pricing, I decided to propose a rate change to my client and charge 100 percent more.

Here’s the message I sent my client:

I hope this email finds you well. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to write for [client name]. I really appreciate the chance to build my portfolio as a beginner freelancer. Writing for your team has been a great learning experience, and a lot of fun!

Now that I’ve done a good number of blog posts for [client name], I have a much better idea of the time and effort it takes to write these posts than I did at the beginning. Based on this information, I will be raising my rate for blog posts to $100 per post, after I have completed 20 total posts.  

We’ve reached the halfway mark, as I’ve just completed post number 10, so I wanted to let you know in advance. I’d also like to offer you a discount of 10 percent with the purchase of 10 posts or more.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you again!”

My client responded promptly, and I couldn’t be happier with it:

I think this all sounds good and the advance notice is appreciated. I would definitely be interested in the specific terms regarding the 10-post purchase. Does this require an up-front payment? Is there a time-frame within which we have to request all 10 posts, etc.

We have a few writers that we use for this type of work and you are currently among our “more affordable” contributors. The described price hike would put you up there with our highest paid writers. So, before responding to this email, I checked in with [contact name] and the team that has been most involved with your blog posts to get feedback on your posts up to this point.

Their reviews of your work were very positive and felt that it warranted the price increase. They said you did a great job of taking a thoughtful approach to topics and required less editing than many of other writers.”

I asked if they could suggest any areas for improvement and the only thing they said was that I could focus on optimizing text for the provided keywords (and their synonyms) a bit better. So, you can take that for what it’s worth.

The response continued:

Anyway, we couldn’t be more pleased with what you’ve submitted so far and are happy to continue working with you at the new updated price. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. And please let me know the details of the 10-post pricing as soon as you can. Thanks for the good work.”

This is exactly the type of client I want. This client values quality work and is willing to pay for it.  My initial rate was just a starting point.  And even though I was afraid to ask, I’m glad I did. It was a lot easier to raise my rates by 100 percent than I thought it would be.

I still work with the first blogging client I landed and get paid well. Working through that experience as a newbie freelancer taught me a lot. I’ve been able to use those lessons learned to land more work and negotiate to get paid pro rates.

Have you negotiated a raise recently? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it.

Amy Hardison is a stay-at-home mom turned freelance writer with a penchant for competitive swing dancing. Visit her website to learn more.

Writing Tips: Join the New Freelance Writer’s Launchpad: A small-group mastermind for new freelance writers. Presented by: Carol Tice & Angie Mansfield. LEARN MORE

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44 comments on “How a Newbie Blogger Negotiated a 100 Percent Raise
  1. Michael D. Ozéh says:

    This is quite a motivational article Amy; thanks.

    Negotiations used to be really scary for me. I would go on and on in debate with myself like, “Is this the right time?” “Am I worth it?” “Are they happy enough with my work to accept a hike in my price?” “What if they decide to find themselves a cheaper freelancer instead?” and so on.

    So I decided on an experiment to discover just how good I am. After completing a project of 10 articles for a client, all ghost written, I designed a feedback form and sent my clients (I had only 2, being a beginner like yourself).

    I wasn’t sure of what I was expecting, but I did encourage them to be brutally honest with me to enable me serve them better.

    Their feedback made my day. I couldn’t believe my work was that valued. Yes, I have confidence in myself, my ability to produce quality work, etc, but I used to think such feedback belonged to superhero writers with magical keyboards and not for people who just started out this year, taking baby steps and charging ‘baby milk’ rates.

    Now I know better. When you got it, you got it. Writing is a talent and an art. It’s high time we started commanding rates that are commensurate to our talent.

    Now I’m no more as scared of demanding for higher rates as I used to be. Reading articles from Carol and others like Bamidele have taught me a lot too.

    And guess what just bolstered my confidence on this subject?

    Your article 😉

  2. Amy, thank you for this great post! It can be really useful for beginners and even for experienced freelancers who are afraid of raising their rates. Your example shows that we just need a little more courage and right words explaining our credibility and value for the client.

  3. Amel says:

    I love that you were able to double your rate.

    In my opinion, being okay with a “no” is the key to success. If you are ready to walk away from the gig, then you have nothing to lose by asking for more.

    You were actually very generous by completing 20 articles for the initial rate!

    I recently committed to writing 4 trial articles for a client at a specific rate and immediately regretted that I did not make it 2 articles instead. The articles were a lot of work, which I explained to the client as soon as I realized what was involved. I told them that I would honor my commitment but that I would definitely have to charge more for any future articles.

    In this case, I was initially charging $185 per article, and the client could only raise the rate to $200. However, they cut the word count for each article by a significant amount, which means that the articles now require less time and research to complete. I am satisfied with this and feel that the client was extremely receptive to my feedback.

    So, if you’re working with a client with a set budget, don’t forget to negotiate things like word-count, deadlines, and other things that will increase your earnings. You can also double your rate by convincing a client that they only need (for example) 2 articles per month instead of 4 (but for the same price).

    I also would not be so quick to offer discounts, especially before the client has had the opportunity to react to your proposal. In many cases, these discounts are unnecessary and might also show that you are worried about your proposal being rejected.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You raise a great point — if the client can’t pay more, ask if they could see the value in more concise posts. 😉 Then your hourly rate still works out.

  4. Brian Robben says:

    Asking for raises is pretty much a win-win ball game. If you get it, congratulations on the “free” money. If you don’t, now you know what the other person is willing to pay and can make adjustments going forward. Inspiring post for all freelance writers out there!

  5. Sophia says:

    As everyone else said, the timing of this post is pretty much perfect. The mind reading abilities of this blog are mighty scary sometimes! I need a post like this every few months to remind myself negotiating is a fundamental part of being a successful freelancer.

    Thank you so much for sharing your success Amy! You nailed that negotiation and your third point says it all “Make the request.” The worst they can say is no.

  6. Negotiating a raise in pay is much easier from the ‘power position’ of doing consistently great work. You have to make yourself indispensable! I even had a client give me a 30% raise in per-word rate after I became their go-to writer for content (I think they might have been afraid if they didn’t pay me more, I might go and write for one of their competitors).

    Most new writers undercharge because they’re just now sure what they’re worth. But I think it’s important to set an MAR (Minimum Acceptable Rate) at the very start of your career – a line in the sand that says ‘I will not write anything for anybody for less than this’ – and stick to it.

    Writers who raise their rates are often shocked at how little fuss their clients make about it. Charge what you feel your worth – a confident writer is a well-paid writer.

    • Carol Tice says:

      As my grandma used to write in the margins of Hallmark cards, Kevin, “SO true!”

      I’d say, set an MAR — and then, keep raising it. 😉

      When clients give you big raises without a blink…that’s when you know you’ve underpriced yourself. Next time, ask for more!

  7. This is a great article – thank you for posting your email and response from the client. Knowing that this approach worked for you will definitely encourage me to try a similar tack whenever I feel like I deserve a raise!

    I did manage to negotiate 150% raise once, but that was partly because I had initially said that it was going to be an introductory rate (I was just starting out at the time).

    • Carol Tice says:

      Eloise, I’m a big fan of introductory contracts of 30-90 days’ length, which open the door for a natural renegotiation point. 😉 I’ve never gone for that big of a raise — I see the ability to get one this large as a sign you’re underbidding initially. Time to raise your rates!

      • Hey Carol, I love that idea of an introductory contract and have a client in mind that would be perfect for such an arrangement as we plan to work together longer-term. Do you have an example of such a contract here or perhaps in the Den?

        • Carol Tice says:

          I may have one in the Den — check the resource library! But if not, it’s pretty simple, it’s just adding language to your contract that says the term ends in 30/60/90 days, whatever you want to put. And can be renewed by mutual agreement.

          That creates your easy opportunity to return to your pricing in a professional way, as in, “I see our contract is coming up for renewal. Now that I’ve had a chance to get to know what your gig entails, learned all about your company, and gotten raves from you, I think my value and what’s appropriate for this is now X+20%…or whatever upcharge you want to propose.

  8. Angela says:

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for sharing your story! Your strategy for negotiating a higher rate for your writing was spot-on (and inspiring!). Your client responded well, and you got their commitment to pay you for a specific number of articles. The discounted pricing for a set number of posts was a brilliant tactic for not only guaranteeing work, but also for easing a great client into your higher rates.

    Best,

    Angela

  9. Great story, Amy. Congrats! I’ll be forwarding this to a beginning blogger friend of mine for sure. I’m sure your experience will encourage her.

  10. Jason Butler says:

    This is something that I’ve been debating a lot lately. I have a client that I’ve been writing for a little over 9 months. They pay me the less out of my others. I need to negotiate my rates with them soon.

  11. Amy Hardison says:

    Thanks Ravi. In terms of pricing specific projects, I tend to lean towards a per project fee (i.e., $100 per post) rather than an hourly fee. Carol has several great posts on different ways to price your services. I can’t find the exact one I’m looking for, but the one called “Per Word or Per Hour — Which Earns Writers the Most?” is really helpful.

    To answer your question, I don’t think I would have asked double in the first place. This was my first real gig. I may have asked for 25% more, but I doubt I would have asked for double.

  12. Ravi says:

    Great article Amy. Glad to know that you started your writing career just in 2016 and doubled you rates very soon after your first session of the freelancing.

    First point is the major key to demanding high rates. Without quality we cannot go. Especially non-native writers have to focus not only at the quality of the content, but also grammar and punctuation.

    I am currently trying to get writing gigs by applying a strategy given by a successful freelancer. And when I asked about the rates (not the person who gave the strategy to start freelancing), she suggested to command $90 per hour. I won’t dare to put that number at starting stage.

    What do you think about it? Did you feel like you would have asked double rate at first place?

  13. Naomi says:

    Great article and advice, Amy. This was timely for me as well. Thanks for sharing and continued success to you.

  14. Mike says:

    Thank you for this. I did something similar, raising one client 50% and the other 100%. Both accepted without question.

    Part of what helped me is that I gave them two months notice, and said any projects started before the rate change would continue under the old rate, even if the project took longer than two months. Of course in the short term they sent me more work, and in the long term I have happy clients with extra articles they can bank for future posts. The only downside is a slight lull now that the push is over. Next time I’ll adjust my planning and marketing a bit to compensate.

    • Amy Hardison says:

      You’re welcome, Mike. Congrats to you on those rate increases! You are absolutely right about giving advance notice. Everyone likes to know ahead of time.

  15. Thanks for this article, Amy! It came at the right time for me as well. I’ve been writing for 6 years, but the vast majority of my work is ghost-written, so I have very little “proof” to show clients. So far it’s been going well just having them take my word for it, but I have chosen a lowered rate because of it.

    I’m growing more and more frustrated with that, and your email example is a fantastic way to break it to ’em easy! I think I’ll be sending something similar to my clients very soon. Thanks again!

    • Amy Hardison says:

      Thanks Jordan! I’m glad the article is helpful to you. Here are a couple of ideas for you to mullover:

      1. Have you considered charging more for ghost-written work? I generally take that into account when creating a quote for a client – i.e., if I get a byline my rate is lower.
      2. For ghost-written pieces, consider asking your client if they will let you use it in your portfolio or on your website. I was recently updating my site, and I decided to ask 2 clients if I could include links to several ghost-written articles on my site. They said yes, and now I have those additional articles linked on my site.

      Just some food for thought. And good luck with negotiating a higher rate!

      Amy

      • Fortunately I’ve been able to use several ghostwritten pieces in my portfolio with permission.

        I’m definitely going to start charging more for ghostwritten work. I guess it was just a lack of confidence/fear of rejection that I haven’t raised my rates until now. But I’m finally getting to a place where I can afford a little rejection. Thanks again for the article – it was just what I needed to encourage me to raise my rates!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I hope you read back over that, Jordan: “I have CHOSEN a lowered rate.”

      Why not choose a higher rate? Ghostwriting is supposed to pay WELL, not poorly, because of how you don’t get the byline. And if you need clips — do a few bylined. Or ask if you could claim credit, if there’s no nondisclosure agreement in place. Or get a testimonial from a client. Those can all help your portfolio.

      • SO true, Carol. I’m working at a lower rate because I’ve CHOSEN to. No more 🙂

        I’ve had a few great clients who have let me use their pieces on my portfolio despite being ghostwritten. I’ll start reaching out for more testimonials.

        Thanks!

  16. Summer says:

    Amy, thanks for sharing your success and how you did it! It makes sense that, after a series of successful posts, you’ve proven yourself to the company to be worth the investment of a higher rate. So happy for you!

    I’m reminded of the saying, “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

  17. Todd says:

    Timely for me. I have a client that has asked for more work with a “negotiated” rate. He didn’t’ even mention the first amount I charged him, so I guess he is expecting a different/new rate.

    So, I am going to give him a different rate than before and see what happens. If he takes it, great, if he negotiates, we’ll see.

  18. This is a wonderful article Amy! Thanks for sharing your epic experience! I’ve been published in the first and only Filipino e-magazine in Thailand and have been a pioneering columnist, and some websites. Since the Founder and CEO is my friend, I started with a friendly rate :). I’ve been thinking of the raise in my PF. 😀 We initially discussed it last year and he promised he would. I’ve been in hiatus for months, so I think of having a target number of posts first, then follow-up the request. 😀

    Moreover, when I ended working at another company recently, my other CEO friend directly hired me. He sought for a friendly rate to begin with, but promised to give me a share of stocks, as part of the compensation in the company. My position is quite flattering, but I know this huge responsibility would be really challenging!

    • Amy Hardison says:

      Thank you Lailanie! Best of luck to you in negotiating pay increases with both companies. One thing that helps me on a daily basis is repeating this phrase out loud: “The worst they can say is no.” When you say that to yourself out loud a few times, things don’t seem so scary anymore. 🙂

      • You’re welcome! I will keep that in mind!:) That’s a help to lessen the impact if turned down.
        The latter CEO actually told me I deserve a huge salary (the benefit of knowing personally), he asked me how much was the salary from the previous company. I kept it confidential. He kept guessing. He kept insisting I worth more, haha! He even told me that he can multiply it by 10. We haven’t finalized the PF and haven’t signed the contract yet. But I get initial projects and compensation. It will be official once we have the contract this month.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Lailanie, I’m a little confused, because freelance writers don’t get a salary…so be clear on what your work status is, as it can make a real tax mess later if you think you’re an employee but really you weren’t, and were a freelancer responsible for your own tax withholdings.

          If clients are telling you to ask thm for 10x as much as you are, it’s time to reevaluate your rates!

          • I’m so sorry for the confusion! He wanted to hire me full-time! 🙂 The friendly rate refers to the freelance writing/content marketing work I provide them. So, I’m contemplating still if I would be an employee and accept the offer, that explains the shares and rate raise offers.

            • Carol Tice says:

              Aha — I get it now. 😉 Well, the practice of hiring an employee with a pay package that includes equity is more common, and should allow you to have real data on company performance and to know if your equity share is being paid out appropriately.

      • Marie Patten says:

        Hi Amy,

        I’m a little confused by your client’s comments to you when you asked if there is anything you can improve:

        I asked if they could suggest any areas for improvement and the only thing they said was that I could focus on optimizing text for the provided keywords (and their synonyms) a bit better. So, you can take that for what it’s worth.

        Optimizing text for the provided keywords?

        Is this for SEO? Just a bit confused why your words need optimization.

        • Amy Hardison says:

          Marie, my client was asking me to include specific keywords in the text of the blog posts. That’s all.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Unfortunately, that offer to pay in shares rarely amounts to anything, and I discourage writers from making that kind of deal. How will you know how the company is doing, and what your shares are worth? How would you sell or trade your shares to turn them into cash? Transparency and liquidity are a problem there.

      But on the plus side, we’re coming up on the BEST time of year to ask for a raise, as I describe here: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/raise-freelance-writing-rates/

      • Hi Carol! Thanks for the words of wisdom. Will consider your advise! 🙂 I think his intention is good with the offer. He mentioned the number of shares and its equivalent amount as of the time we initially discussed it. He wants me to benefit with the growth of the company. We haven’t finalized anything yet, so, I’ll have room for contemplation to scrutinize the pros and cons. Once clearly discussed and the contract provided, then, I could fully decide. 😀 He’s actually the one who insisted I am of great value. LOL! I hope he doesn’t flatter me that much. 😀 Much appreciation for the the article. I will read it.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Taking shares from a friend’s company…I’m just going to be honest and say this is a recipe for tragedy. When the shares are never worth anything, or he isn’t able to come through on that offer of equity in the company, how will your relationship be damaged? His intentions may be good, but it’s just extremely rare that this sort of offer works out well for the writer. And in the meanwhile, you’re working for a pittance because you supposedly have equity.

          Having worked with and mentored thousands of writers over 8 years, I’ve heard of ZERO times that an offer of shares turned out to translate into money for the writer. Just saying.

          Working for friends is a real minefield, because it’s hard to ask for a raise, and it’s hard to go after them if they pay late, don’t pay at all…or don’t follow through on their promises.

          • It’s actually a really rare offer and I’m quite scared albeit kinda excited at the same time. It’s true that it’s risky for the friendship. 🙂

            I really need to take it into consideration. 🙂 Your opinion on this is much appreciated. I had a quite unfavorable experience from another friend in the past, re paying late. Risky indeed!