One of the benefits of a 9 to 5 job is that you regularly come up for review and have the possibility to get a raise, even if it is just a cost of living raise. However, as a freelancer, your rates may remain stagnant--unless you take the steps to raise your rates.
How to Raise Your Rates with New Clients
The easiest way to earn more is to raise your rates when new clients approach you. You might initially state a rate that is 10% above what your other established clients are paying (though the new client doesn't need to know this). If the client accepts the rate, then when the next new client approaches, you might try making your rate even higher. Eventually, you'll meet resistance, so you'll know a little below that is a good place to lock in your rates for all new customers.
How to Raise Your Rates with Current Clients
Unfortunately, raising your rates with current clients isn't so easy. In an ideal world, your client will offer you a raise on her own, but if that doesn't happen, you'll need to take action if you want to see your pay increase.
Before you ask for a raise, though, make sure that the client is satisfied with your work and that you are doing excellent work. Keep note of successful projects you have completed and times the client was especially pleased with your performance.
Understand that if you ask for a raise and are not given it, you should walk away from the job. Are you prepared to do that? If not and you ask for a raise and still stay when the raise is denied, the chances of earning more in the future on this job are slim.
The new year is a good time to raise your rates, so some time before Thanksgiving, send your client a message detailing your strengths on the job and asking for a raise to begin on January 1. You can ask for a specific dollar amount, or you can leave it open ended and let the client decide how much to increase your pay.
Asking for a raise is never easy, especially when you're self-employed. However, if you've been working at the same rate for quite some time and you are willing to walk away from the job if need be, you have nothing to lose by asking for a raise.
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