Leaving Work Behind

How to Raise Your Freelance Rates in 4 Steps

Written by Guest Author on November 29, 2016. 7 Comments

A pile of money in a box.Tom: The following is a guest post written by Chelsea Baldwin – the Founder of Copy Power, where she teaches freelancers how to reverse engineer their copywriting for more conversions and sales to grow their businesses. She’s written a free e-book with five easy to implement copywriting tricks to help you reduce your bounce rates, keep people on your site, and increase your leads.

Even before I quit my job, I knew I wanted to offer premium-priced services. I’d tried my hand at freelancing just after graduating college, and figured churning out 8–10 articles per day at $15 a pop wasn’t going to do me any good in the long run. The work was hard to find, and there was always someone willing to do it cheaper. What’s more, even though clients were spending little, they were endlessly picky.

However, working in an office setting showed me something: business owners shell out top dollar to get a good service. I also learned that price is the representation of a service’s value. It’s incredibly empowering to know, but how to do it is another thing entirely.

There are no hard and fast rules for how to go about positioning yourself for premium pricing, but in this post, I’ll walk you through how I did it in four steps. However, first let’s discuss your attitudes to your market value.

Rethink Your Assumptions on Market Value

In my own experience, I saw a lot of quibbling in the freelance writing world between so-called “market priced” writers, and those charging much more for the exact same work. The argument was that these high-priced writers were either fooling themselves, fooling their clients, or just being selfish and taking advantage of clients who didn’t know any better.

The lesson is: no matter what your rate is, you’ll always be too expensive for someone.

However, since writers are consistently getting paid at various price points, why not strive to be a part of the premium club? The clients who seemingly pay over the odds for work aren’t foolish, they’re paying for quality. If they want to be successful – i.e. a company making wads of cash – they’re willing to spend a significant sum in order to make more in return.

For example, multimillionaires don’t buy Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of a local craft beer for the sake of saving a few dollars per six pack. The saving is nothing in comparison to the higher-quality product they get by spending a little more.

The takeaway here is that when you think you’re competing with swarms of other freelancers on the race to the bottom, it’s important to realize you’re actually only competing for a small segment of the market, and as such you can charge a much more reasonable price.

How to Raise Your Freelance Rates in 4 Steps

Raising your rates, at least in my experience, is the first step towards becoming even happier in your freelance business, achieving the income levels you dream of, and making you happier with your life as a whole.

So, here’s a four-step process I use to help some of my fellow freelancers up their prices in a smart way, increasing their income and work satisfaction to boot. Let’s get to it!

1. Decide on Your New Rates

I’m not going to give you a math formula where you figure out how much your bills cost, how much you’d like to save, what percentage of a pillow to add, and how many hours you have available to work. Honestly, that’s too much work – at least for me, anyway. Also, what if I have less hours available, or there’s a gap in my schedule where I’m not earning, or I want to spend half of my week working on an internal project? In these cases, the calculations mean little.

In simple terms, I’m a huge advocate for project pricing – rates high enough that you don’t have to consider what it breaks down to on an hour-by-hour basis. To get started, all I did was look around at other copywriters I considered premium priced, decided the level of service I wanted to offer in comparison, and set a price from that. It wasn’t magic, but it worked – all you need is the confidence to do so.

I’ll admit, there are more expensive copywriters than me, and definitely less expensive ones. However, it’s less about the $200 difference and more about how a potential client feels about my services, and whether or not our personalities get along – which is a really nice point to be at, because there’s nothing worse than working for nightmare clients.

In summary, the only requirement for deciding your new rates is to simply make them they’re higher than they are now.

2. Publish and Stick to Those Rates

Simply put, your rates are a statement about who you are, and the kind of service you deliver. Obviously, your quality of work must back up your price point – but more often than not, you’ll find talented writers don’t charge enough, rather than the other way around.

Once you publish your rates, stick to them once the proposals start rolling in. Don’t automatically discount or bargain with potential clients out of fear of losing work. You don’t want the market to start discounting you, and you definitely don’t want to start discounting yourself. Of course, you can keep your old rates for existing clients if you want, but be careful not to book new projects in at lower than your published rate.

This is the one place I get the most resistance from the freelancers I help, because they’re always so concerned about not losing out on work. However, let me tell you: those clients who show up and try to nickel-and-dime you would never make good clients anyway, no matter how low your rates are.

The takeaway here is: publish your rates and stick to them, rather than negotiate out of fear.

3. Show Clients a Great Deal

Earlier, I advised not to do your own reverse math as a crutch for setting your own rates. However, doing some quick math for clients can pay off when it comes to getting booked at higher rates.

To get started with this, run some numbers based on your client’s potential spend, and show them what a no-brainer your price point is. For example, I charge $947 to write a sales page – and, frankly, it’s a middle ground for copywriting rates. To justify the price to clients, I often explain it in terms of their sales numbers. For example, I outline that if the client sells a $300 product, they’ll only have to sell three more of them to breakeven on their investment. To give you a real-world example, here’s where I run the numbers for my clients while discussing two package deals I offer:

The financial breakdown of Chelsea's services.

If the client has any kind of decent traffic coming to their page, the investment usually pays for itself within a short period of time. After that, they’re earning nothing but straight profit – and it’s something I make the client aware of every time.

4. Offer Package Deals to Clients

I’ll be honest: this tactic took me a long time to crack, but now I’m convinced it’s where the money’s at. It might seem a little counter-intuitive to offer package deals when you’re trying to come across as a premium-priced service, but the truth is that the human brain just can’t say no to a great deal.

Think about it: if someone was going to hire you to rewrite their home page and a sales page, then saw they could have their About page rewritten for a discount, it’s a deal that’s hard to ignore.

This is something I do on my own website – take a look at this example:

The initial soft-sell for Chelsea's services.
Here, my clients can add a third page onto their project for almost half the price of what it would cost to add a singular page – and you can take advantage of the same tactic by following my thorough guide on the subject.

Conclusion

Higher rates equals more money. It seems so obvious written out, right? However, too often we let our fears dictate our pricing strategy – which is counter-intuitive. Raising your rates can be scary – but the first time I did it, I earned more money per month for the exact same work, time, and effort I was putting in previously.

In this post, I’ve shown you how to reassess your attitude towards pricing your services, then how to raise your rates in four steps. Let’s recap them:

  1. Decide on your new rates.
  2. Publish those rates and stick to them.
  3. Show clients a great deal.
  4. Offer package deals to clients.

Do you have a method for raising your rates? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Maklay62.

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7 Responses to “How to Raise Your Freelance Rates in 4 Steps”

  1. Jawad Khan
    November 29, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Chelsea,

    Good to see you here, great article.

    One quick question

    How does your pricing for sales/landing copywriting projects differ from pricing for blog posts?

    • Chelsea Baldwin
      November 29, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Hey Jawad!

      Nice seeing you here too. 🙂

      For me, even if a sales page technically has roughly the same word count as a blog post, it takes a lot more time and structuring to put together, especially for the sake of selling more and increasing conversions.

      Plus, ultimately, sales pages are more valuable and profit-driven for a client, so there’s that to consider too.

  2. Elvis Michael
    December 7, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Great read, Chelsea.
    This part especially resonated with me: “price is the representation of a service’s value.”

    From my experience, the average customer often fails to gauge a product or service by its value or its overall benefit. Instead, they look at the “quantity” of perks they receive rather than the quality. While this particular example applies more to general products, it still goes to show the danger of always listening to the client/prospect/customer.

    Thus, you must be able to properly educate them on the benefits they get to receive in the long-run.

    Thanks for this insightful post,
    Elvis

    • James Mathison
      February 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      You could replace “customer” with “people”.

      Everyone’s bad at gauging true value because true value is impossible to perfectly predict.

      You don’t know exactly which diseases you’ll avoid by eating healthy. You don’t know exactly how much a blog will help your exposure, or exactly how much it’ll add to your income.

      That’s why the copywriter’s job – the thing that makes it hard – is making the intangible just tangible enough that the customer feels safe in the transaction.

      Never easy. Forever essential. 🙂

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