Year end is one traditional time to raise your rates. For existing clients, tell them now that, come 2015, your rates will be going up by $5, 5%, or even double (your pick). It's easy to raise your rates with new clients in 2015, just quote the new figure when they inquire; but existing clients appreciate a heads-up on what their next project will cost. Two months notice would be even kinder.
Five dollars is an easy increment for a raise. Though it might be too small if your rates are very high, or if you're talking about a per-page rate rather than per hour. If your rate is very low, definitely raise it by at least $5.
Five per cent is a little more than cost of living increase. It's also easier to calculate, and a little “rounder” of a figure, which is more easy to accommodate emotionally than some arguable decimal value researched with the Federal Reserve or Bank of Canada.
“My rate will be increasing by $5 in January.”
That's it. That's all you have to say. You don't need to justify it or explain. Raising rates is a normal part of business.
Some clients might balk at the higher cost. Others won't even bat an eye. One year, after a handful of years charging the same entry-level rate, I started quoting $5 an hour more on each new assignment. Not one client balked. In fact, I made so much more money that year that my accountant asked what happened.
Why are you raising your rates? Because you have another year's worth of experience, more training, and because your pay has to keep up with the cost of living.
“I doubled my rate once,” freelance editor Barb Adamski told me. “It was awesome. And instead of people asking me to lower my low rate, I got clients who said, 'Oh, what do I get for that rate?' It was a total game changer. My advice to anyone starting out freelancing: Double your rates at least once in your career.”
What if, by raising rates, you price yourself out of the market? Well, next week we'll talk about finding better clients—and look at several factors beyond what they pay.