It’s no secret the topic of money is often a difficult, tricky one. It becomes even more complex when deciding how much to charge a client for your services …
Sadly, many freelancers set their rates too low in the hopes of landing projects.
But, with the right strategy, you can likely double — possibly even triple — your rates. Exciting, huh? Well, let’s jump right into it!
Here are three ways to (quickly) charge more for the services you offer:
1. Stop chasing clients!
The first secret to raising your rates is to stop chasing clients. Whether you’re applying for jobs on a job board, making cold calls, or finding gigs on Upwork (formerly Elance), you’re likely selling yourself short. Not only are you competing with hundreds of other freelancers, but potential clients see you as just one of many and won’t be willing to pay you as much
Instead, set up a system to ATTRACT your ideal clients to you. Here’s what you need:
A professional freelance website – If you’re trying to sell your services as a web writer (or any other freelancer), you need a website. This gives you somewhere to send potential clients, sell your services, and serves as a sample of your work. If you don’t yet have a website, go here to get started.
Traffic – The next step of your client attraction process is to put yourself (or rather, your writing) in front of potential clients. The goal is to get them back to your website where they can learn more about you and ultimately contact you. To get traffic to your website, you might write a guest blog post or get involved in social media. Here’s a great article that perfectly explains traffic and how you can get more of it.
Lead generation – Once you have a prospective client viewing your website, you want to try to capture their information (or at least their email address). This way, even if they’re not ready to hire you today, you can follow up with them at a later date. A common form of lead generation is offering a bait piece or opt-in offer. To learn more, check out this article: “How to Choose a Topic for Your Bait Piece.”
A follow-up method – Finally, to reach out to prospective clients, position yourself as an expert, and close deals, you’ll want a follow-up system. Sometimes it’s okay to email your leads individually, but as you get more, consider publishing a monthly e-newsletter. Here’s more on that.
This method of attracting clients works, because the clients find you. Also, when they reach out to hire you, they already perceive you as an expert. They likely expect you to be expensive and they don’t care, because they want what you’re offering.
2. Raise your rates.
Many, many freelancers charge lower rates than they need to. If you suspect that’s the case with you, or if you haven’t raised your rates in a few years, now is the time to re-evaluate. Here’s how:
First, do your research.
Before setting your rates, be sure you know what others are charging. And, I’m not talking about people on Upwork/Elance or anyone else charging $2 for 300 words!
If you don’t know where to start, be sure to check out the Wealthy Web Writer pricing guide here. Inside you’ll find that a basic “blog writing project” such as “ghost and guest writing” should pay $50-$500 per post!
If you’re not charging at least $50 per post, raise your rates now!
If you have some experience, you can set your rate in the middle of that range. If you have a lot of experience — and clients regularly coming to you — charge at the upper end of that range. (And, keep in mind, $500 isn’t the maximum if you’re in demand!)
Another way to price your services is to look at common editorial rates. The minimum for “writing, non-specified” is $40-$100 per hour! (Note: Don’t tell your client your “hourly rate” … more on that below.)
As a web writer — or someone who is helping a business make more money with their website — your skills are worth much more. Charging accordingly will demonstrate that you understand your value.
Don’t believe me? Consider this:
A potential client comes to you with a project. They want you to write a 1,000-word blog post. They ask for your rate and tell you they’re considering two other web writers …
- You — writer A — reply to them with a low offer … let’s say $50 per post (because you really want the project) …
- Writer B replies with a mid-range offer of $250 …
- Writer C replies with an outrageous fee of $750 per post …
What do you think the client will do?
Well, first, it depends on the quality of the client. But, if it’s a reasonable client from a well-established company, they’ll probably run from your low-ball offer. While they’d love to take advantage of your low rate, they’ll likely be afraid you don’t have the skills they need. After all, if you’re truly a professional, wouldn’t you charge professional rates?
Writer B has a good chance of getting the project because they’re neither too low or too high. They’re “just right.” However, writer B might get the project and find out they charged too little to make it worth their time. Later they’ll be stressed and it will likely reflect in the project.
Finally, writer C has a better than good chance of getting the project. Their rate may sound high, but it indicates they know what they’re doing, they understand their value, and they operate like a professional.
In the client’s eyes, this writer is likely worth their rate (and then some) because they’ll cause less work for the client and get better results. As Ed Gandia points out here, “Smart clients don’t want costly mistakes. They don’t want the project to bomb. And, they certainly don’t want to hold your hand.”
If you want to know rates in your niche, look for other writers. Often they’ll publish their rates on their website. Or, if you ask nicely, they may simply tell you their rates.
For instance, here are Bob Bly’s fees (as of 2004). Considering Bob is a recognized pro with years of experience, he’s likely raised his rates since 2004. But, if you’re a newer writer, you could use these rates as a starting point.
Next, know your bare minimum hourly rate.
After researching other writers and the going rates in your industry, you should have a starting place for your pricing. Next, make sure that rate is going to cover your bills, expenses, and non-billable hours. Here is a great article to walk you through the math.
Once you know your “bare minimum” hourly rate, you’re ready to set project fees!
Here’s how that works:
- Decide how long the project should take you. If it’s something you’ve done before — like writing a blog post — you likely have a good idea of the time you’ll need to invest. However, if it’s a new project, topic, or industry, be sure to add extra time for research and complications.
- Add a few hours for miscellaneous work — this includes hiccups in the writing process, emailing the client, and even sending the invoice.
- Multiply the hours you expect to invest by your bare minimum hourly rate. This figure is the MINIMUM you should charge for the project.
- Compare the minimum rate to the suggested ranges in the Wealthy Web Writer pricing guide.
Let’s go through the above steps for a blog-writing project:
- Let’s say I can write 1,000 (rough) words in an hour. Now, let’s add an hour for research and an hour for cleaning up the rough draft. We’re up to three hours.
- Because this is a fairly small project, I’ll add just an hour for anything that may go wrong and client communication. (If you’re doing a large project, like a complete website or sales letter, add more time.) We’re now at four hours.
- I’m going to use the minimum hourly rate of $88.25 calculated in this article.
Multiply $88.25 by four hours.
So, our minimum rate for this project would be $353. That is our “project fee” or the figure you propose to the client.
- When we compare that rate to the pricing guide, we are within the $50-$500 price range! Plus, our rate ensures we’re making enough to pay our bills!
Don’t reveal your hourly rate!
Now that you know your MINIMUM hourly rate, you can use it to calculate your MINIMUM projects fees. But, never reveal your hourly rate to your client. This is just for you! Why?
Well, many experts and freelancers debate this, but a project fee is beneficial to you and the client because (A) the client knows what they’ll pay — even if you spend more time on their project — and (B) over time you can work faster and make more money in the same amount of time.
For more on project fees versus hourly rates, be sure to read, “The Great Freelance Debate: Hourly vs. Fixed Rates (Which is Better?)”
Finally, be confident!
You are a professional and deserve to be paid like one. If a client doesn’t want to pay a professional rate for your services, consider setting up a client attraction system to attract higher quality clients to you.
Still not sure you can charge more for your services? Here are four articles to help increase your rates, confidence, and productivity:
- 12 Simple Tips for Working Less and Earning More
- What Should I Charge? How to Justify Your Freelance Rates
- Set Your Fees With Confidence – and Get Paid What You’re Worth
- Increase Your $/Hour Writing Rate
3. Add value.
Once you have a client, go above and beyond what’s expected of you. Let’s say, for instance, you’re hired to rewrite website copy for a client.
You finished the project and turn it in … that’s great! But, you could add a lot more to your perceived value (and it won’t take much time).
Here are a few ideas of “bonuses” you can offer your clients:
- Social media updates for the work you just finished. For a website rewrite, your social media updates could be as simple as, “Stop by our new website!”
- Alternate headlines for testing. While writing their website copy, you likely had several ideas for headlines. To impress your client even more, send 2-3 alternate headlines for them to test. They’ll appreciate the extra effort, you’ll come across as more of a consultant. Plus, they’ll be able to test your copy to get the best results. (That’s a win for everyone!)
- A list of suggestions for the project beyond the copy. As a web writer, you’re likely in charge of only the website copy. However, if you know anything about conversion — even something as simple as, “include a call to action above the fold” — you can recommend this to your client, look like a marketing genius, and likely gain a repeat client! After all, if you propose an opt-in, your client will need someone to write the offer, emails, and actual giveaway. (Here is a great article to quickly increase your knowledge of marketing and conversion.)
When it comes to charging more for the services you offer, just remember, the more value you can provide to a client, the more you can charge for your skills and services.
As a final tip, you can instantly add value to your services by specializing or niching yourself in a certain industry. By doing this, you automatically become more valuable to your potential clients, because you understand their customers and can get better results by speaking their language.
Consider, for instance, a car dealership … are they more likely to hire a general writer who doesn’t know the meaning of MPG or a writer who used to be a car salesman and now specializes in the car industry?
Comment below to join the conversation! What questions or concerns do you have about charging more for your services?