Time for a Raise – 5 Tips on How to Make it Happen Painlessly
When you started freelancing, you probably set your rates at what was competitive at the time. But you may not have even noticed the years rolling by, and suddenly your rates are below where they should be. It’s easy to correct that with brand new clients, but it can be difficult to approach a long-term, dependable client with a rate increase.
If you hesitate to broach the subject, recognize that as an independent worker, you have to be your own advocate. Rarely will a client tell you they think you’ve been charging too little. It’s up to you to make sure your rates remain competitive.
Here’s some painless ways to make your point
- Point to the calendar: You may feel more comfortable if you have a target to point to, such as the start or midpoint of the year: “Beginning April 15, 2012, I’ll be increasing my hourly fee from XX to XXX”.
- Use your camaraderie to your advantage: Point out your loyalty, but don’t’ mention that you haven’t changed your rates in umpteen years. “I’ve really enjoyed our working relationship. To stay competitive, I’ll be making an adjustment of xxx.”
- De-personalize the information: Make a blanket, business-like announcement: “I’ll be making a rate change across the board.”
- Start with the difficult ones: Since these clients are the biggest thorn in your side, you may feel they should be paying you more anyway. Build up your confidence by practicing with them before you approach the rest of your clients.
- Be predictable: If you dislike talking money, make it a habit. Announce a nominal rate increase at the same point each year. Customers will come to expect it, and since it’s not too painful of a change, they probably won’t protest.
Always state your increase in a matter-of-fact, professional manner. Don’t feel the need to explain or blame the economy, and never apologize. (The gas station has never tacks ‘sorry!’ on their pumps!) The first time may be the hardest, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised that most clients will accept your increase.