I get asked this a lot. How do you raise your rates with clients who are paying you a pittance?
So this is kind of a trick question. Or trick headline. Whatever. Because the thing is, trying to raise your rates with clients who don’t understand value is almost impossible. These guys view you as a commodity… so why should they pay you more than any other freelancer? In their eyes, they shouldn’t.
Unfortunately many clients fall into the category of ‘not understanding value’ – this means they think the work you produce is worth just as much as what anyone else would do it for, regardless of quality. So if they’ve got somebody else working for the same amount and you try to get more money from them, they may just end up ditching you and finding some other sucker.
Rather than trying to raise your rates with this client, you’d be better off finding higher-paying clients and then jettisoning this one once you’re making enough money elsewhere. Trying to get more money out of these types of clients can be like getting blood out of a slab of granite. I’m not saying it’s impossible, of course (well, the granite thing is probably impossible) – but there’s really only one way to find out. And are you willing to take that risk?
Before you decide to tell this client you’re upping your rates (and make no mistake, you will be TELLING them, not asking them, unless you wish to remain a doormat for the rest of your freelancing career) there is a question you need to ask yourself:
If this company isn’t willing to pay you any more, would you still be willing to work with them?
If the answer is no, then go ahead and ask. There’s no harm in it since you’re done working for the buttons they pay you either way. But if the answer is yes, you might want to hold off. Because if the answer is yes, they are the one with the power. You need to get yourself in a stronger position – the position where you can walk away – otherwise you’ll end up doing that doormat thing we talked about. So get out there and find some better clients.
Protip: the main ingredient needed to find better clients is confidence. (What’s that? You thought it was talent? Well, that’s helpful too, of course, but if you don’t have the confidence to back up your talent, what’s the point in being talented at all?)