Being able to charge more is every freelancer’s dream.
But how much you are worth, what to charge, and how to drive up your rates are some of the most difficult contemplations that a freelancer continually goes through when running their own businesses.
We should know. When we first set out to become a freelance content marketer, it was far from clear to me what we were supposed to charge for our services. We went through a long period of trial and error, internal criticism, and comparing myself to other, more established competitors that made significantly more for their time.
Eventually, we reached a point where we now not only very confidently know our worth as a freelancer, but we know what it takes (and when) to increase my rates. This learning took a lot of time, effort, and we can honestly say it's not something you every truly "figure out."
As time goes on, you discover your strengths, grow those skills that have the biggest return, build a stronger portfolio of client work, and continue to increase your brand equity as a freelancer within your space. If you're doing things right, when you decide to start a freelance business, you've already chosen a very specific niche in terms of the types of clients and services you'll offer, which will greatly aid in helping you build a powerful reputation within your space.
All of that aside, when it comes to setting and increasing your rates, you need to start somewhere. Whether you're just getting started as a freelancer and want to make sure you're charging what you're worth, or it's finally time to start upping your current rates, this is for you.
Based on our experience doubling our freelance rates multiple times, here are our ten guaranteed ways to charge more as a freelancer.
Knowing Your Worth
Knowing your worth as a freelancer always comes down to understanding the basics of supply and demand. What can you supply, using your skills and resources, that the market demands? On top of that necessary foundation of supply and demand, how do your skills and resources compare to that of your competitors? Are you somewhere in the middle of your field? Toward the top? Bottom? Knowing where you honestly fit within your industry in terms of expertise, will help you stay realistic as far as what you're charging as a freelancer.
Now, the mistake many freelancers make is breaking down what you supply, your services, into a list of individual tasks or features that you present to your client. the reason this is such a large error as a freelancer is because as a freelancer, you are not just selling disintegrated tasks or features, you are solving complex problems and selling business solutions for your clients. The total value of these solutions is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
The services you provide, allow your client to make and/or save money. This contribution to the benefit of their business should be the basis for your value as a freelancer.
Choosing the Right Clients
Wanting to get as many clients as possible may be tempting, especially if you are still in the beginning phases of growing your business. But you have to learn to say no and allocate your time and resources to the projects that are most valuable to you. This includes choosing the right clients, those that result in the greatest long-term profits and help you build your personal brand in the direction you want to move in. Even as a newcomer in your industry, you have to set some standards for what types of clients you want to work with.
To the greatest extent possible, your goal should be to build long-term client relationships, if only for the reason that acquiring new customers can be anywhere between 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Repeat clients that can give you regular work, is the bread and butter of a sustainable freelance business. Nurture these relationships as much as possible, until it's no longer the right fit for your business goals.
Aside from choosing clients that clearly and respectfully communicate what they want and keep payment promises, you should look for clients that have projects requiring the types of skills that you, but no other, or at least very few, competitors possess. The more you can provide unique value to your clients, the more incentivized they'll be to continue working with you long into the future.
Understanding Your Clients
Understanding your client is crucial if you want to be able to charge above industry-standard prices, or if you want to up your rates with them. The more you know about your clients, their problems, and their needs, the more you can do to create high-value solutions that transcend the importance of the money conversation.
As a freelancer, you need to think at least one step beyond what your client actually wants, and what they actually need (in terms of how you can help them get meaningful positive results in their business). For example, if you are a web content writer, you are not just hired to produce text, you are really being hired to make your client attract more visitors to their website, achieve greater click-through and conversion rates (and ultimately win more customers). This is the value you deliver to your client. Through driving up this value, and leveling up the quality of your work, you can justify charging more.
Building Your Personal Brand and Reputation in Your Space
Having a strong personal brand and a great reputation greatly determines the price you can charge because it signals experience, credibility, professionalism, and quality. Building your personal brand and reputation can start as simply as guest posting, doing interviews, or collaborating with other more established freelancers in your space - or with recognizable blogs and publications. This includes keeping your website and social media channels up-to-date and reflective of your collaborations. Have an active online presence, showcase your work in a portfolio and make use of references whenever possible, to signal credibility and experience to your target audience.
Wowing Your Potential Clients with an Incredible Outreach Strategy
An effective outreach strategy is where you build a meaningful connection with your customers and clients rather than market at them. The reason you need an incredible outreach strategy is that people tend to trust third-party recommendations over what people, or businesses, say about themselves.
Through engaging your customers, building lasting relationships and letting them “tell the story” of your brand you can wow your potential clients, increase the perceived value of your services and charge more. See what these 15 experts have to say about developing a successful outreach strategy.
Writing an Undeniably Great Proposal
Creating a great freelance project proposal is rudimental to winning the clients you want. But the proposal is also the primary vehicle you use to communicate the value of your services and should, therefore, be used enable you to charge higher rates.
Unfortunately, not knowing how to craft a good proposal, most freelancers fail to leverage this opportunity. Sign up for this freelance proposal course and learn how to write an undeniably great proposal.
Having Outstanding Customer Service
As a freelancer, customer service is an area in which you can truly stand out from the crowd and beat your competition. Customer service begins at the stage of attaining prospect clients. Great customer service from the start, increases your possibilities of charging a higher rate and through maintaining that high standard all the way to delivery you leave your clients feeling satisfied and wanting more, paving the way for doing business together again.
Making Use of Pricing Psychology
Play with price perception to raise your freelance rates. This includes using framing or anchoring techniques to position your price in a more favorable light. Don’t defend your pricing by referring to things like your personal expenses or taxes. Instead, reframe the situation by describing the benefits you are delivering and the value you are creating for your client and let this serve as the motivation for the rate you charge.
Anchoring is another technique in which you are the first to suggest the price, thereby setting the “anchor” for the negotiations. Naturally, your goal is to anchor as high a price as possible. Make use of these types of tricks to charge more for your services.
Learn New Skills That Will Add More Value for Clients
Learning new, relevant skills is a great way to drive up your freelance rates. New skills could be troubleshooting, communication or business management skills. You do not need to get a business degree, but you should acquire knowledge about business fundamentals or the workings of your clients’ business and their industries. This will make you better equipped to identify and solve your clients’ problems and create more valuable solutions.
Whether you like it or not, confidence is an indicator of your skills and qualities as a freelancer. If you don't have confidence in yourself and your ability to deliver outstanding results for your client, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you?
Fear and insecurity will leave you vulnerable in negotiations, making it easier for clients to take advantage of you, getting you to agree to prices that aren't beneficial to you, that you don’t like or are not comfortable with. When you start exuding confidence and calmly but assertively negotiate for the conditions you want, you will be able to charge significantly higher rates.