Raising Your Rates — On New Clients

Ilise Benun on your online marketing planWould you like to earn more money in 2013? (Who wouldn’t, right?)

More than you did in 2012? And especially more than you did in the past few years?

Well, besides, going out and getting better clients (which you should definitely do), you can also raise your rates. And December is the ideal time to do so.

Before you starting announcing it to anyone, you have to adjust your mindset so that you do it confidently, not sheepishly.

Once you’re clear about the fact that you’re the boss (not your clients), how should you raise your rates?

It’s a delicate thing. Let’s address first the new clients, the easiest realm in which to raise your rates.

Deidre Rienzo, of ConnectWithCopy.com, wrote about this on the Marketing Mix Blog last week. And here’s an excerpt from my book, “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About It and How to Manage It.”

Ideally, you should be earning more every year, not because
you are so wonderful that you “deserve” more, but because you are perfecting your craft and learning more every year.

Therefore, what you provide is worth more. As your business grows, as it naturally will, you evolve from one type of client to another, from one type of project to another, constantly reaching for better (sometimes bigger) clients and projects.

That means you grow out of current clients and reach toward better ones. Leaving behind what doesn’t fit anymore is a natural part of any life cycle.

With this mind-set you can consider each new client an opportunity to raise your rates—just a little. Add 5–10 percent to what you charged last time for a similar project and see what happens. Try it as an exercise. This way, no existing client is affected by the increase but—all things being equal—you get the benefit of earning more every year. It’s a flexible way to price, especially if you’re just starting out, when you’re likely to price too low anyway. Get in the habit of doing this and it will become easier each time. (One caveat: If you’re not organized, it can become complicated, as you have to track what you’re charging to whom.)

Now, if you are not getting many new clients lately and have just a couple existing clients, raising your rates is a bit more challenging, especially if you haven’t trained them to expect an increase. I’ll write about that tomorrow but in the meantime, if you need new clients, check out the Creative Professional’s 2013 Marketing Plan + eCalendar to Get The Work You Want.