This article is Part III in a 5-part series on earning more through freelancing.
In late 2010, I came home after visiting a client and filled out an invoice to send over to them. I typically set my rate on a project basis. After adding everything up, I realized that — for the first time — I was making over $100 per hour.
It was exciting, but I almost felt bad. Was I really worth that much? In the past, I had done similar projects for less money.
Furthermore, I would have been just as happy if it would have come up to $50 per hour.
After thinking it through, I realized that I should have focused on the value I provided and not the rate I received. Yes, my client was paying me for my time and effort, but they were paying for my experience as well.
It had taken me years to develop the skills that I used in a few hours with them. Not only did I produce a quality product for them, but I also saved them all the time needed to learn those same skills if they wanted to do it themselves.
To the client, my value was worth every bit of $100 per hour.
Many freelancers share my reservations about receiving higher pay. They would love to make more, but are they are worth it? Will clients flee at the sight of higher prices? Let’s bring the experts in to provide some clarity.
Worried about charging more?
It’s natural to be apprehensive about raising your rates.
At first I didn’t like charging at all - I didn’t feel like I was good enough or experienced enough to charge. I disliked selling my “art” because I felt that defeated the purpose of making it. — Rosie Hardy
One way to overcome these fears is to take it slow and build incrementally.
For people who want to get higher paying clients I would recommend building incrementally. Get five clients at a certain price point. Then charge any new clients a slightly higher amount, and so on. — Jenny Blake
However, even with a step–by–step strategy it can be tough to pull the trigger. Charging higher rates — or charging at all — is often an exercise in overcoming your own price sensitivity rather than that of your clients.
No, it won’t hurt your business.
I just raised my rates and 99% of the time people wouldn’t question it. I went from charging $3,000 a website to $10,000 – not based on any specific principle – but because I knew that is what web design firms charged. Be bold, that will get you everywhere. — Maren Kate
I’ve raised rates twice already since I started six months ago. Raising rates doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer clients. On the contrary, there is a perceived value effect that can lead more people to want to work with you when your rates are higher. — Corbett Barr
Heh. I’ve raised my rates at least 40 times, if not more. Raising rates is a natural part of business, and I don’t have any “feelings” about it, really. Having emotional attachment to rate setting is detrimental.
In business, you set rates based on the value you provide to clients and the results you bring to them – that’s all. And when you provide more value or more results, you raise your rates and charge accordingly. — James Chartrand
Every time I raise the bar for what kind of clients and projects I’m willing to take on, something absurdly magical happens to business as a whole. Sometimes it’s higher-value projects across the board. Sometimes it’s something fundamentally different about my attitude, or my workflow, that makes things run more smoothly. It’s never, ever been a bad idea. — Megan Morris
Become appealing to your ideal client.
The one thing I did that catapulted my business to a new level was taking the time to really map out my ideal client. What kind of business do they have? How do they like to work? What do they need help with? What would our relationship look like in an ideal situation? Once I had a really clear vision of who my ideal client was, I started crafting my business around that premise.
I changed my site design. I changed my offerings. I changed the way I interacted with those people. And when I made those changes and committed to only taking on clients who fit that profile, I found that I was attracting more ideal clients and more higher paying clients. — Lisa Morosky
I do much better when I offer very very specific services. My naming service sold like hotcakes from the moment I launched it. Some of those who bought the service still had consulting hours available! They could easily have spent some of that time on taglines and naming. But offering something concrete allowed them to put themselves in the position of “Do I need this? Would this work for me?” — Catherine Caine
I use a sales copy technique that helps me get higher paying clients – I write my sales copy so that it’s EXACTLY how my target clients feel – the emotions, the fears, the dreams. When they read my sales page, I want them nodding their head and thinking, “Did Heather somehow get inside my brain?” I want them to feel like my program was MADE for them. — Heather Allard
I have approached clients directly through email and that has landed me my biggest ongoing relationships. It was a process of researching my ideal client and contacting them in a persuasive and compelling way about how I could help their business.
With one client who runs a six-figure business, I created a webpage with her name in the url that was picked up in Google Alerts. It popped up in her inbox and when she clicked through to the page it had specific information about their business and how I felt we could work together for her to make a bigger impact on her audience. She liked the approach and what I was offering and we’re still working together now. — Amy Harrison
We focused on having a very clean and simple website that would appeal to a high-end market. We positioned ourselves as offering the same or better service and products as advertising agencies but at a fraction of the cost. — Annabel Candy
Use proof to show clients your value.
I think the strongest technique you can ever use is proof. Proof of your own hype is great, so showing people your achievements is a start. The real power comes from showing proof of the people you helped. I have a handful of students who have gone on to do great things, many who make more money than I do today, and they will always be the best proof I have that what I teach is valuable and worth paying for. — Yaro Starak
Quite simply, do awesome work, provide top levels of service and be a leading business who does the job right. When you’re that good, you can get the clients and rates that go with it. — James Chartrand
As far as higher paying clients go, I don’t think I’ve ever had a specific technique for that beyond consistently improving my own skills and providing services of great value. The more value you bring, the more you are able to charge. Especially if you are able to back up your pricing with tangible results and past happy clients.
One of the things I especially like about my work right now is that it’s easy to back it up with actual numbers. Although I enjoy helping clients in other ways too, seeing big improvements for clients in numerical terms does something special for me. And focusing on the numbers makes me more accountable too. — Naomi Niles
Higher paying clients come with experience. It’s easier to land those bigger clients when you have proof of performance – when you can show you’ve achieved results. It all comes down to hard work and patience – taking on what you can and continuing to build your network and portfolio over time. — Matt Cheuvront
Less is more.
I don’t want more clients, that’s silly. I know so many people who have so many clients that they run around like stressed-out monkeys sweating and checking their email 543,234 times a day so that they can cater to their every client’s whim. I’d rather have a few high-paying clients that I can really help, and set expectations appropriately about how often they can contact me and how much I can actually help. — Everett Bogue
I weed out nearly every client these days. I am looking for the home run. If they are just getting started, I point them to my training courses and videos. That, of course, lends itself to higher profile clients. I may get less and less of them these days, but they are always exciting projects that I am proud to work on. — Greg Rollett
When it comes to finding higher paying clients, the main thing I do is try and have enough leads that I can choose projects that have a larger budget or hourly rate. Using experience to your advantage can also help get higher paying clients, especially if you can show the potential client past work and how it relates to the future project. — Justin Wright
I try and be very honest with what I charge, and if I feel like I’m getting too many offers for work, then I raise my prices and work with the client who offers to pay more (or if the job interests me more!) — Rosie Hardy
Offer a new, but related service.
I’ve branched out into coaching writers, where I can charge a higher hourly rate, and where I don’t burn out on purely writing. I can only write four or five thousand words in a day (comfortably), but I can do that plus coach for an hour or two. — Ali Luke
I started offering consulting packages because I needed a way to charge even higher rates than I did for my general practice. I needed to get my genius out in the world in a new way (to bring in new high paying clients), and I needed to position myself as an expert.
Don’t under value your services. There will always be clients who buy based on price, you want people to buy on your value. — Dawn Martinello
Just do it already.
Keep it simple, take action, and start earning more. If you’re thinking about doing it, then you probably should have already done it.
Are you ready to earn more?
There is nothing unreasonable, unrealistic, or even unusual about doing business online. It’s still people working with people.
The course and newsletter are totally free, but I am still willing to say that you will earn $500 in 5 weeks if you put the tactics to use right away. In fact, I personally used the exact strategies in the course to earn $655 from just 6 hours of work on my first try.
This article is Part III in a 5-part series about earning more through freelancing.