The rates of freelancers can vary from state to state, project to project, and year to year. One thing that shouldn’t change, however, is the high esteem in which you hold yourself. The value you bring as a freelancer is underscored by the rates you ask for.
Lower rate? You might get more clients, but is it worth your time and skill? And are those the kinds of clients you want to work with anyway? Higher rate? You’ll probably get fewer of the low-ball clients, and more of those that understand and respect your value.
Not convinced? Okay, then here’s four things you should keep in mind when you’re pricing your projects. They should give you the confidence to raise your rates, and not worry about all the low-hanging fruit you’ll be missing.
1) Higher Education Degrees
How many do you have? I have two: a BA in English and an MA in Folklore. In addition to the work experience you bring to your clients and their projects, you’re also bringing your collegiate education to the table. Since you paid for it (or at least someone did), you know for a fact that it’s worth something. Why do you think attorneys have such high hourly rates? Sure, because they have mountains of student debt, but more than that, they have a very specific, high-stakes skill-set that is worth paying for.
Your Humanities degree(s) probably didn’t cost as much as their Law degree, but it gave you a certain set of very specific, very valuable skills and training that are worth clients paying you to use them. You deserve a raise.
2) Years of Experience
I’ve been told by multiple people that you can officially call yourself a “senior” at something if you’ve been doing it for at least five years. I’ve been a copywriter for going on six years now. By that definition then, I can own the title, Senior Copywriter.
How about you? How long have you been doing what you’re doing? Long enough to know all the right questions to ask of your client? Long enough to have a sizable percentage of your work come from referrals (i.e. you’re well-known/awesome)? Long enough to deliver a project that wows every time? Then you might be a “senior” at that something. You deserve a raise.
3) Client List
It’s not who you are, it’s who you’ve worked with. An impressive client list is worth its weight in gold. For example, “I got your name from So-and-so at Nike and I’d like to hire you to do this project for me. What’d thar? Oh, no, I don’t need to see your portfolio. So-and-so from Nike recommended you.”
True story. Well, true stories, really. That exact thing has happened to me multiple times.
If you’ve worked with impressive brands that have serious name recognition, regardless of the industry, your client list will open doors for you. Put it on your website, show those pieces in your portfolio, make your association clear. You’ve worked with heavyweights. You deserve a raise.
4) Because You Want It
Never underestimate the importance of desire. If you want something, go get it. (I mean, as long as it’s legal, of course.) One of our Conclavists was very interested in taking her business to the next level, but she was having trouble getting there with her existing clients. The rates they were paying her were low, ya see, and the goals she’d set for herself had her flying quite a bit higher. She decided to invite those clients to pay her more, and if they refused, she politely cut them loose with a sweet referral to a colleague or two. I believe her hourly rate is over $100/hour now, and she’s booked through to August.
She wanted a raise. She gave herself a raise. She is building the freelance business she wants, not the one “the market will bear.”
Also, the Freelancers Union recently published a blog post entitled, “How to raise your freelance rates” that you might also find helpful.
So, do you want a raise? If you think you deserve it, go get it.