Preparing Yourself for Better Writing Rates

Once you’ve decided to establish rates for writing that compensate you fairly for your time and effort, you need to start standing up for yourself and putting your foot down.

That’s not easy. Many freelancers hold themselves back from setting better rates because they’re afraid of what people will say. But remember, fear holds us back from getting us what we want in life.

Some temporary discomfort can often bring us great benefits.

To better prepare you to command the rates you want, here are some tips on dealing with some negative circumstances you may have to face.

Let Them Know It’s Coming

You’ll need to advise current customers of the upcoming rate increase. That’s right, upcoming. People need time to adjust or time to turn around and find alternative solutions. Your respect and understanding of your clients’ needs is crucial.

All you need to do is prepare a positive-sounding notice of the upcoming rate increase. Tell clients why you value them, why this decision is good for them, and when it goes into effect.

Be straightforward, don’t justify the need and don’t focus on your gain – it’s all about the customer and how he’ll benefit from these increased rates.

Hope for the Better; Brace for the Worst

The hard part in sending out a notice of rate increase comes with dealing with uncomfortable situations that arise after your letter leaves your desk. With every forward step we take to create beneficial change, we need to be prepared to deal with difficulties that might try to knock us down.

That’s okay – these difficulties are temporary. Fleeting, even. They may not occur at all. But if they do, you need to be ready.

Even though you may never hear any, prepare for complaints, negative feedback or harsh opinions. Most people understand rate increases and your desire for better pay, but some won’t, don’t care or even get angry about it.

Being mentally ready for negative feedback helps you deal in a calm, confident and positive manner. You’ll be able to hold your ground knowing you’re making the right choice for you.

What to Expect

You might receive feedback that you don’t like, criticism of your decision, complaints about previously-perfect work or even whiny pleas for flexibility. It’s normal.

When (or if) you receive this sort of feedback, do answer it. Respond to clients who are frustrated and let them know their voice has been heard. Sometimes that’s all they need. It’s key to stay positive, not to fall into apologies and maintain your firm footing.

Don’t waffle on your decision to increase your rates. Hang on. Storms always pass.

Other customers may try to negotiate. They’ve been paying a lower rate, you want a higher one, so they immediately see the middle point and seek compromise. Haggling is perfectly fine; it’s not an insult. After all, if you never ask, you never receive, so these clients are just trying their luck.

You could prepare for this possibility by knowing whether you want to be flexible, with whom and how much. Some clients are worth losing because you’ll gain peace of mind or lower stress. Some clients are worth keeping, even though you may not receive the rate you desired.

Know ahead of time as you send each notice out who you want to be flexible with. Have your counter proposal in place. Be careful, though; flexibility sometimes gives an unspoken message that you’re always open to haggling, so if that’s not the case, say so.

It’s Not About You

People aren’t personally attacking you. They’re simply frustrated, need a place to vent, and the cause of the upset is usually the easiest target. That target could be you, but always keep in mind that it’s nothing personal.

You’re doing the right thing. You’re making a change for yourself, and the rough moments will pass. Be understanding that many people get frustrated, don’t express themselves well and can’t control their reactions. It’s no excuse, but knowing that fact helps weather the storm.

In short, even if people are upset, you don’t have to get upset too. In fact, you’ll feel a lot better if you don’t.


  1. Jenny B says

    Hi James,

    I appreciate you sharing from your experience and letting us know that when the time is right and we have established ourselves and our service or product, and we are trustworthy, then we can start increasing our fees.


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