We talk a lot on this blog about what it means to bring real value to your clients.
Not just a list of skills. Not just a project you apply your talent to and send out the door. The best freelancers become trusted advisors. In every project, they know they’ll spend 50% on the work and 50% being there, listening, and knocking their clients’ socks off.
If you already do this, you should double your rates -- first for new clients and then for existing clients.
Like right now.
If you end most projects with clients thrilled with you, your work, and wanting to work with you again, it’s a sign: raise your rates.
I know what it feels like to ask for less and make less, then hate the work because you feel cheated all the time. Raising your rates is the single most important thing you can do to improve your business and help fix work/life balance issues. It means you can have fewer clients who pay more. It means you’ll be feel more engaged in the work that you do. And, of course, it means you’ll make more money.
I hear it again and again from Freelancers Union members; they literally double their rates ($30 to $60, $50 to $100, in case you didn’t see that I meant DOUBLE), and their new clients don’t even blink. Then they tell older clients what they charge other clients, ask for better rates, and the old clients never put up as big of a fuss as the freelancer expected.
The top clients -- the one who look for top-shelf freelancers and are willing to pay for them -- aren’t looking for someone who can execute their project needs. They want someone who will take a project off their hands and do it If you want to attract top clients, you need to take an honest look at your business and ask if you’re really delivering the quality of work and relationship that top clients expect.
In an industry where there’s a set market rate for your skills? Either expand the skills you offer or market better the extra skills you already offer. For instance, if you’re marketing yourself as an accountant but what you’re actually doing is helping small businesses manage cash flow, set up vendor relationships, plan for growth, and figure out tax strategy, it may be time to market yourself as a business consultant…and at double the rate of your usual accounting gig.
Even if you only have one client out of five in this new capacity, that’s a great place to start. Over time, you will have more clients in your higher role at your higher rate.
Look around you. Who’s got your skills plus a few higher skills, and seems to be making more than you? (This is where networking with other freelancers really helps.) To put it bluntly, are you making your full market potential? Is there someone in your field who has carved out a niche that allows them to market themselves as an expert, not a generalist? Perhaps you know someone on Twitter or LinkedIn who’s marketing themselves not as a personal assistant, but as PowerPoint expert -- and you could do that too.
If raising your rates requires a new business strategy, don’t raise your rates now, but start working now to to get there. Spend the next three months raising your rates.
A final note to my fellow ladies: If you’re like me, you only go for something like a promotion or a raise when you feel 100% confident.
This is a mistake.
If you’re levelling up, try to find a client when you’re 60-70% confident in your skills. When you feel like it’s just a little bit dangerous. Don’t wait until you can get a certificate in business consulting. Don’t wait until you update your website and your social media bios. Just. Do. It.
Studies show that women suffer from a crisis of underconfidence and this is probably the biggest thing holding us back. Women apply for promotions when they match 100% of the required skills, and men apply when they match just 60%.
What’s the best process for raising your rates on new and old clients? Read our guide here.
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