Starting a business on the side of your day job or taking on freelance work in your spare time is a great way to earn extra income to put towards student loan payments. However, after you’ve built up your freelance client base and have some experience under your belt, you might consider charging more for your time and effort.
You’ll need to know how to negotiate a raise in a professional way. Read on to find out how to ask for a raise and tactfully maximize your income.
Standard rates for freelancers
There are a wide variety of freelancing skills you can choose as a way of earning extra income to put towards student loan payments. You can become a writer, editor, designer, virtual assistant, and loads of other specialities within those niches.
Here are the standard pricing ranges for different types of freelancers so you know how to ask for a raise with confidence.
Most writers charge either a flat rate or per-word fee for articles and content they produce for clients. Some of the writing may be for print purposes, like magazines and newspapers, while others are for digital work, such as blogs and newsletters.
On average, writers who produce content for print earn a flat rate of $384, depending on the outlet. On the flip side, writers who produce content for digital clients earn $25 an article for content mill sites and as much as $1,500 for long-form online reporting and pieces for corporate blogs.
You can also check out the Twitter handle @whopayswriters to get an in-depth look at what clients and publications pay for different types of work.
There are many different types of editorial services you can perform for clients, so the pay range varies widely. However, most work is billed out either by the hour or per word.
You can view the various going rates for a freelance editor, proofreader, fact-checker, and transcriptionist by checking out the Editorial Freelancers Union website.
Again, there are many different kinds of virtual assistant (VA) services you can offer, from executive assisting to data entry to bookkeeping. Anything that a client needs help with in regards to managing, organizing, or keeping their business running, a virtual assistant helps them accomplish.
PayScale estimates that a VA can earn anywhere from $10 to $30 per hour, but according to this crowdsourced answer on Quora, it’s possible to earn as much as $150 an hour depending on your service and skills.
Designers can deal with print layouts, social media campaigns, or web design, so you’ll have to adjust your rate according to your industry and type of work. Web designers can earn an average rate of $59 per hour, and some print designers can earn as much as $600 per day.
How to ask for a raise
Leverage a date
When you’re in the beginning stages of learning how to ask for a raise, it can be intimidating and downright scary. One way to easily combat this is to leverage an anniversary date or the beginning of a new year as a way to get the conversation going.
Most clients expect that they’ll receive notices about increased rates at the beginning of each year, or at least on the anniversary date of working with a particular freelancer.
In fact, from my own personal experience many clients are already working higher rates into next year’s budget. It’s likely they’re already primed and ready to pay out more money — all you have to do is reach out and ask.
Don’t make the negotiation about you
Most advice you hear about negotiation tactics often relates to finding your minimum acceptable rate or the amount you need to earn in order to live comfortably. But going to your clients with these numbers can come off as selfish, since it makes the negotiation all about you and what you need to earn.
Many employers and clients don’t care about what you need to earn in order to pay the bills. They’re concerned about their bottom line, not yours. As you head into the negotiation process, don’t make it about you. Instead, focus on how it can best benefit the client, help them grow their business, or reduce stress in their day-to-day lives.
This new mindset approach to negotiating is called value-based pricing and it focuses on the value your services or products bring to the client. It’s a much less selfish view on the situation and will make your client much more open to giving a raise, since you’re thinking about how you can help them.
Showcase the value you bring
Not sure how to ask for a raise using the value-based pricing model? Essentially, you need to negotiate based on the client’s perception of your value. Don’t approach the conversation by asking to be “paid what you’re worth,” but instead, showcase the value you bring to the partnership.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How does your work benefit the client?
- How do your skills increase their bottom line?
Write out a list of specific answers to each question, and mention these benefits to your client when asking for a raise.
For example, if you’re a freelance designer who recently created a website for a client who now brings in an extra $2,000 a month in sales from your site, you can ask for a raise accordingly. Consider what your position is worth to the client as well as the industry they’re in, and negotiate based on this information.
Change up your billing model
Another way to negotiate a raise from a current client is by changing up your billing model. A lot of freelancers start out by charging per hour, but this is very limiting. You’re literally exchanging hours of your life for money, and there are so many hours in the day.
In fact, invoicing clients using the hourly billing model can feel like you’re nickel-and-diming them, since you’re charging them for every little thing.
Ask your clients to move away from the hourly rate and instead switch to a per-project rate or flat monthly fee. This will allow you to perform work at whatever pace you want, often giving you more control.
This is advantageous for both you and your client, as you will both be able to manage your monthly expenses more efficiently, now that they’re paying you a flat rate. It much easier to articulate your value as a freelancer when it’s not tied directly to an hourly price tag.
Ask for indirect benefits
In your research on how to negotiate a raise, don’t forget that there are many other intangible benefits outside of money. If earning more money is not possible right now, you could ask for other indirect benefits instead.
For example, in the past when I’ve negotiated higher freelance rates, I’ve also asked for benefits like business mentoring, unlimited access to courses or ebooks, and the ability to use the company’s premium tools.
Indirect benefits can help increase your bottom line by:
- Building your reputation
- Adding to your portfolio
- Increasing your level of experience
- Broadening your network of potential clients
In other words, working for one client who may not pay as much as you’d like can help you build your portfolio, supply you with benefits like personal introductions, and lead to contacts with industry leaders that you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
Take all of these steps into consideration when crafting your proposal of getting a raise from a client and you’ll have a much higher chance of increasing your rates. You may not always get the amount you’d like, but it never hurts to ask!
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