Leaving Work Behind

How to Renegotiate Your Rates as a Freelance Writer (And When to Do It)

Written by Alexander Cordova on September 28, 2017. 0 Comments

A woman using a calculator.When starting out as a freelance writer, it’s easy to lock yourself into sub-par rates. Someone offers you work, and you’re afraid to say no because you don’t know when the next project will come along. So you accept, even if the work pays a pittance.

One of the best lessons you can learn as a freelance writer is not to be afraid to ask for more money. Everyone needs a raise from time to time, and freelance writers are no different. As long as you learn how to navigate a negotiation, you should be able to raise your rates bit by bit.

In this article, I’ll explain how to decide what are reasonable increases for your rates. Then, we’ll talk about how to ask for a raise without spooking your clients. Let’s get to work!

How to Tell When It’s Time to Ask for a Raise

Freelancing is just like any other career when it comes to getting a raise. As your experience grows, your skill set will improve, and your time will be worth more. However, people won’t often give you a raise unless you explicitly ask for it.

There is, of course, an optimal time to ask for a raise and that’s after you’ve already been working with someone for at least a few months. For example, after you have a couple of successful projects together under your belt. When the time comes, it’s important not to be scared to ask for a raise and here’s why:

There are a lot of resources that talk about how much money you should charge as a freelance writer. In my experience, your baseline should never be less than $0.05 per word, and that’s if you’re starting out.

Once you have some experience under your belt, you can look into raising those rates. These days, I don’t do any work for less than $0.06 per word, and that’s only for articles that require little research.

When you’re gearing up for your next negotiation, keep in mind that a 5-10% yearly increase is a good range to aim for (if you have the chops to back it up). It’ll take you sometime before you reach that coveted $0.10 per word milestone, but by the time you get there, you should be a full-fledged professional.

2 Tips on How to Ask for a Raise In Your Rates

In my experience, you can almost always get what you want if you know how to ask for it (as long as it’s within reason!). Without further ado, here are two negotiation tips to help you lock in your next raise.

1. Back Up Your Request With Numbers

One of the most common mistakes people make when they ask for a raise is they do so emotionally. You may very well be due for a raise in your rates, but you need to approach the problem as your employer would. Ask yourself “Why should I give John Doe more money for the work he does?” and try to answer that question in a way that would convince your client.

For example, here’s what a good approach might sound like:

Hello XXXX,

We’ve been working together for over a year now, and we’ve successfully published over four dozen articles. Those pieces have on to attract a lot of new traffic to the blog and engagement has skyrocketed over that period. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about adjusting my rates to account for my new responsibilities.

I think a 7% increase in my rates would be reasonable – which would leave us at $0.07 per word – but I’m open to negotiating.

All the best,

The key in this scenario is to highlight the benefits that your work provides for your client, for example:

Any reasonable employer would look at these qualities and be open to negotiating a raise just to keep you around. After all, they know you can be trusted and training someone new is always a lot of work.

2. Be Ready to Negotiate and to Walk Away

Whenever you start a negotiation, it’s important that you walk in with a figure in mind. Your clients will almost always try to talk you down from that figure, so you also need to know what amount you’re willing to settle for.

Personally, I always like to include a little mention that I’m open to negotiation whenever I talk raises. Just like in the example I used for the last section:

I think a 7% increase in my rates would be reasonable – which would leave us at $0.07 per word – but I’m open to negotiating.

Sure, it may not sound as decisive as saying that you won’t settle for less than X figure, but it sends the message that you’re someone reasonable. Afterward, there’s likely to be some back and forth and here’s how I would navigate after starting with a reasonable offer on my end:

At this point, you’ll meet one of three outcomes. Your client might agree to give you a raise (in which case you need to amend your contract), or they might come in with a smaller number than you’d like. In the latter situation, they may be open to other types of benefits, such as free work equipment.

Finally, it may be that your customer isn’t open to talking about a raise at all. If you’re sure you deserve one, it might be a good time to start planning an amicable breakup and to line up some more clients in advance.

Conclusion

A lot of people are scared when it comes to working out what their time is worth or rocking the boat by asking for a raise. However, it makes sense to renegotiate your freelance rates on a semi-regular basis. If you don’t think you’re ready for an increase just yet, check out our Paid to Blog course. It’ll help sharpen your skills, which can lead to better-paying gigs.

Once you have a number in mind, you’ll have to start negotiating. Here are two tips to make sure that conversation goes right:

  1. Back up your request with numbers and hard data concerning the work you’re doing and its value.
  2. Be ready to negotiate if your clients don’t want to settle for your first number and to walk away if necessary.

Do you have any questions about how to renegotiate your freelance rates? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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