How to raise your day rates.

WORDS, HUBBUL

Nobody enjoys conversations about money. Unless you happen to be an accountant, and then it’s your job to do exactly that - whether you enjoy it is another thing altogether though. So for the most of us, when it comes to chatting with clients about raising day rates, it can be an uncomfortable experience, but one which will ultimately put you on the road to earning more.

So how do you go about approaching the conversation nobody wants to have? And, more importantly how do you successfully raise your day rates while keeping your clients happy?

Justify why.

Maybe the part you’re dreading most isn’t informing new clients of your day-rates, but instead letting existing ones know that your services will cost more. What if they drop you? What if the relationship turns sour? 

One way of avoiding this is being able to justify your new rates. Whether it’s a qualification you’ve gained, your growing experience, achievements, the extra hours you’re putting in or your growing value to the company, give your client a valid reason – that way they’re far more likely to take it well. And if they don't? Stick to your guns, a business relationship where the client doesn't understand your true value isn't a sustainable one. Have confidence that you'll pick up new clients at the right price. 

Be open to negotiation.

Clients might be reluctant to accept your new rate, so be ready to negotiate. Set yourself a minimum and aim high. Be confident and remember that if you’re doing a good job they won’t want to risk losing you.

Weigh up whether your client can genuinely afford your new cost too. It’s not unusual to see freelancers charging different day-rates for different clients and different projects. Gauge the situation before you start the conversation, prepare to be flexible and aim for a result that both you and your client are happy with.

Do your homework.

Shop around and get a firm idea of the amount your competitors are charging. If you’re too cheap, you aren’t doing yourself justice. But remember, there’s nothing wrong with charging more than the industry average. Higher day rates can actually increase your value. Then it’s just up to you to deliver to justify them. In general, people don’t mind paying good money for a great service, so don’t shy away for charging more than others might. 

Do it in person.

Tone of voice can be misunderstood through email, and for many people, a phone call just isn’t personal enough. It usually helps to hold important conversations in person. But that’s not to say it needs to be overly formal. Grab a coffee, go for lunch and keep it friendly, but business like. 

Sweeten the deal.

Clients usually expect more if they’re paying more. Occasionally it helps to offer incentives to show your loyalty, which makes your higher day-rate a better deal. Whether it’s offering your services on a retainer, or expanding your offering, make it hard for your client to resist your new offer.

Test it.

If you’re still nervous about the dreaded day-rate conversation, test it out with brand new clients first rather than existing ones. If your new clients accept your day-rate, then it should give you confidence and a little more reason to propose it to your existing ones.

And just remember, employee salaries are usually reviewed annually, so there’s absolutely no reason why yours shouldn’t be either. 

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