How to Find the Confidence to Ask for a Raise

by James Chartrand
This is the second post in a series on increasing your rates and getting more money writing for a living. Feel free to ask your questions in the comment section, and we may cover the answer in an upcoming post.

Last week we discussed circumstances
when you shouldn’t ask for a raise
, but there are definitely times when you should seek out that pay hike to better compensate yourself for a job well done.

The problem is that many people feel very uncomfortable discussing the subject of pay increases and money with their clients. Most writers don’t enjoy the game of negotiations, and they end up never asking for anything at all. They get stuck in a rut and stay there for a long, long time.

Why, though? What makes people stop themselves for asking for more money, especially when the situation proves a pay hike is deserved?

Fear: The Ultimate Killer

From childhood on up until the day we pass on, fears rule our lives. We learn to avoid unpleasant situations. Events shape how we perceive the world. We develop all sorts of inner whisperings that control how we behave and act.

Fears take on many forms: fear of embarrassment, fear of change, fear of condescension, fear that we just don’t deserve something. We talk ourselves out of all kinds of good things because we’re damned scared of what someone else might say, think or do.

Fears hold us back from what we want. Fears keep us from having a better life.

The Steps to Finding Confidence

If you never ask for anything, you’ll never receive anything. Writers need to learn how to ask for what they want, and it all comes down to having the confidence to pose the right questions.

Finding the confidence to ask for what we want when we’re scared isn’t so hard. All that needs to be done is examine the potential consequences and sifting reality from our negative perceptions.

Consider the outcomes of asking for a raise. What are all the possibilities? What would a client potentially answer to the request? Try to figure out all the results ahead of time. List them out.

Include as well what you think your possible reaction might be to each outcome. If you write that a client might say yes, how would you feel? If you wrote he might say no, what would you feel – and what would you do in that case?

Determine all the possible scenarios and be honest about your potential reactions.

Also examine whether these scenarios are realistic – would a client truly laugh or fire off a long letter criticizing you? Probably not. Would a client really fire you for asking for a raise? It’s unlikely.

Think about why you fear these negative outcomes. How do you feel you might handle them? Why do these fears show up? Are they realistic fears? Are they holding you back? Are there other ways that you might handle the situation?

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you fear you’ll lose your job because you asked for a pay increase. You fear this because you’re worried about getting other clients. You’re mostly worried about financial security. You fear not having enough income because when you were younger, your family was poor.

Are you poor now? Would you truly fall back into poverty because a client fired you? Would the client realistically fire you? Could you potentially get other clients? If so, how would you go about finding new work? Would losing this client actually be beneficial?

With a clear game plan in mind that covers all potential outcomes, your possible reactions and solutions or an action plan, you’re much better prepared to face your fear, realize it isn’t worth worrying over and dealing with the situation.

You’ll be ready to ask for that raise, know what might happen and what to do if it does. Suddenly those fears you had don’t seem so scary after all, right? You can handle this. Your game plan is right there in front of you.

And if you get a yes from your client and your pay rate does increase? You’ll be able to realize that good things do come from asking after all, and gain a little more confidence to ask for other things in life.

Soon enough, you’ll be going after what you want – and getting it.

Do you have other tricks for finding confidence? Have you ever faced a fear and had surprising results that helped change your mindset? Share them with us – you might help someone else through a tough decision.


  1. Ann G. says

    I have requested a raise from one employer and lost my writing position because of it. I’m glad I stuck to my principles, and after a couple weeks, I had a much higher paying gig. That one wasn’t permanent like the other had been, but I feel better that I walked away.

    I also walked away from a job this summer. In this case, the Web site owner said he was drafting a new contract that would lead to everyone getting a 50 percent pay cut. I couldn’t afford that. Sadly, others on the team accepted it, so the owner got what he wanted. After a little negotiation, I managed to find a place that will take on the work I was doing for this guy and I’m getting a 5% pay increase over what he was paying. So it also worked out.

  2. says

    **applauds** Good work Ann – if you don’t stick up for yourself nobody else will. The sad reality is that a few people who hire us think we should be working for minimum wage or free. Not all – I’ve been hired by some really great people too.

    There is no negotiation with someone who thinks that you are only worth a certain amount of money regardless of your performance, no matter what industry you are in.

    The only thing that bothered me about this article is not the subject matter or how it is written (great job!) but that it starts from the point that we should be finding the confidence to ask for a raise – what happened to our self-esteem in the first place that we need to look for confidence? Consistently excellent performance is worth a cost of living raise per year, if not more. That’s the equation, there is no other. If your employer balks when you ask for a raise, you need to balk at your employer.

  3. says

    @ Angela – Unfortunately, probably 3/4 of freelancers suffer from self-confidence issues – and it’s also okay. Many freelancers have had a rough ride in life and there are reasons for that lack of confidence.

    What happened to self-esteem? The past, very often, and events that are decades old. Wish I could do something about it, and this post is my way to help break that vicious cycle.

  4. says

    I recommend reading books by Jeffrey Gitomer… possibly the book of “Yes!” Attitude.”

    I highly recommend the book “Trump-Style Negotiation.” It’s my business knowledge that has allowed me not to have much fear as a freelancer. Although I’ve never been in the position to ask for a raise, I’ve never been shy about discussing payment, and I never apologize for bringing it up or discussing it. Money is important, we all like to get paid, it’s a matter-of-fact subject, and you have to make sure you have a good attitude towards money. (If you don’t, check out “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Ecker – this makes a great audio book for listening while driving).

    Also, watch The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, weeknights at 10pm (eastern) on CNBC. The attitude and mindset bred by watching such a phenomenal program is one of confidence, not fear or worry.

    Another key is to not fear a lack of work if you lose the job for which you ask for a raise. You have to know your value, and you have to believe that you’ll be recognized as such, and have the attitude of “no big deal, I have other options.” (But actually pay attention to other options. A big part of success in freelance or entrepreneurship is keeping your eyes open for opportunities).

    I’d say always hope for the best, make sure you’re thinking positive and feeling good. Then, ask for a raise when you have that positive feeling about it, when – based on the work, the attitude of the client and the professional relationship you have – you feel that the probability that you’ll hear a YES is high.

    Asking for a raise takes those determined, driven, law-of-attraction, optimistic, confident, entrepreneurial skills, rather than the skills you need to write well. It’s all about your attitude.

  5. says

    Also, as James mentioned, I think that many freelancers have a tough time with confidence, and specifically because people look at the open-endedness of the profession as a lack of stability. (But it’s similar in sales… and especially in small-business ownership [and entrepreneurship in general]… People who go after dreams take risks, that’s just the nature of dreaming big.)

    The idea that you “are home all day” or somehow don’t work hard, or don’t have the same job security as someone else is something so many people look upon skeptically. I think the chase for the right freelance work is part of the excitement, and that’s probably a reason for my success. But to “traditional society,” where a steady single employer who covers your health insurance and 401K, it’s not so exciting. It’s scary, or unstable… there isn’t often much encouragement for those who choose to live a freelance life, be they dancers, musicians, actors, or writers. But the reality is, we can find stability too, as long as we’re focused.

    So, with that said, I’d also advise: Don’t allow the conceptions of others about “freelance writing” or “being a freelance writer” to influence the way you perceive money. You have to have a good attitude about money, and job security, and risk, to succeed, and especially to ask for a raise.

  6. says

    *And, pardon me, correction to the first comment: have the attitude of, “no big deal if this specific job or opportunity doesn’t work out, I have other options.” However, I know that those core-sources-of-income jobs do feel like a big deal. I’m implying that risks are necessary facts of life as a freelancer, so too much worry about what a big deal something is will often lead to negative outcomes.

    Alright, I’ve elaborated enough ;-).

  7. says

    Ahem, final correction: *But to “traditional society,” where a steady single employer who covers your health insurance and 401K IS OFTEN EXPECTED, it’s not so exciting.

    Sorry guys, I just had to get it all out and phrase things properly here… Thanks for reading, if you did! :-)


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