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The secret to charging high freelance and consulting rates

The secret to charging high rates for your freelance and consulting services is to start by charging moderate rates.

The common wisdom out there is that rates are a reflection of self-esteem. And just as your self-esteem is never too high, your rates can’t be too high either. If prospects say “no” to your proposal, either you have not adequately sold them on your value or they are too unenlightened to recognize your value.

And since it’s all about self-esteem, you might as well step into your self-esteem to its fullest expression and raise your rates sky high accordingly.

Looks good in print. Sounds good in those free teleseminars. But sometimes it’s hard to implement. It just doesn’t feel right.

One avoidance route is to go after the lowest paying assignments on the online job boards. In the internet marketing world, that’s called “collapsing.”

This may create some quick assignments and start a cash inflow. That’s good.

It may also keep you too busy to question your rates or to up your marketing effort in pursuit of better paying work. Not good.

Nor is low pay a promise of less stress, less fussiness, less detail orientation, more fun or even an instantly full schedule. (I haven’t gone to these job boards for work so I can’t say for sure. But I have taken somewhat lower-paying assignments without seeing any less-pressure-for-less-money tradeoff.)

However, moderate but respectable rates can be a good thing, especially if you are new to freelancing / consulting or you’ve been doing it for awhile in only a halfhearted manner.

If you have trouble getting the words out when asked your rates, maybe that rate isn’t right for you at this time.

So take it down a notch without outright abdicating on price. Fill at least 50% of your schedule at a moderate rate.

This will give you the confidence to raise your rates. Because if you have work, you won’t feel desperate to accept just any low-paying assignment that comes your way.

The next step is to raise rates for new clients. See how that feels before raising on existing clients.

This next step doesn’t have to be your ultimate rate. Just a step up.

Then you can raise existing clients. You may wish to give them a few weeks or months advance notice, for instance, the first of the month two months down the road or the first of next year. And you may wish to offer the current price for any assignments lined up before that date.

And so it goes. Down the Appalachian Trail of life. The road keeps going and going. And you keep on adjusting your rates.


Originally posted 3-21-11

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