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Can we freelancers raise our rates?

Sure, why not?

I’ve heard free teleseminars lately saying you can’t raise rates, but they don’t give reasons why.

I disagree. Yes, we can. We can do anything we want to do. We are our bosses.

Of course we can’t raise rates on a current assignment once a contract or other agreement is in place, but I don’t think that is the issue at hand.

Any time new business is under discussion, the rate can be discussed, whether the client represents repeat business or is new to us.

And yes, it can be raised, whether the fee is calculated by the hour or by the project.

But first, should we post our rates on our websites?

Generally not. And especially not if our rates are on the low side.

A good reason to list prices is if they are high. This will prevent having to respond to people who are intently comparing prices and looking for the best deal. If you are receiving too many nuisance calls, price listing may be the way to go.

If your rates are in the middle range or even low, only consider listing them if you are committed to these prices for all prospects.

It is reasonable, even fair, to vary rates by the nature of the prospect. For instance, larger, international companies typically pay more for a service. Often the service is more demanding because of its scope, justifying higher rates. Tighter deadlines = higher rates. More complex work also equates with higher rates.

Raise everyone’s rates at once?

It’s perfectly fair not to. You may decide to start by raising rates for new clients but freezing what you charge old ones.

You may decide on a moderate increase for returning customers. You may decide on the increase months in advance and alert clients it is coming while offering the current rate for work they commit to before the price increase.

Charging by the hour presents its own challenges

Some deride this practice of charging by the hour as commoditizing the work but I don’t see it this way. My work reflects my own style and my own strengths, and I am confident that comparing my rate to someone else’s is irrelevant to professional clients. I am not interested in working with individuals and companies that can’t evaluate freelancers more astutely.

The faster and better the work, the more you can charge per hour.

Some argue that when you charge by the hour, clients will question how long it took you to accomplish something. I have been freelancing since 1991 and no one has ever challenged my time records when I’ve charged by the hour.

Never.

I am sure that anyone who did challenge me on this factor would be a horrible client for other reasons as well.

My solution would be to possibly adjust the invoice but to never work with them again.

Some otherwise reputable freelancers suggest simply charging for more hours to in effect raise the hourly rate without the client’s knowledge. In other words, padding.

Ugh. I can’t expect fair treatment from clients if I don’t hold myself to equally high standards.

I assure that my time records are exact because I track time in quarter-hour increments and maintain a running total day by day in my appointment book.

The big picture

As the boss, we can raise our rates any time we wish. However, we may decide to postpone this move—especially for existing clients—until we have a respectable amount of work in the pipeline or embark on an ambitious sales program.

Originally posted 7-11-16

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