Why You Shouldn't Ask for a Raise

by James Chartrand

This is the first post in a series on increasing your rates and how to get 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.

We all want more in life. More freedom, more fun, more money… It’s perfectly fine to want these advancements and a better life, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for these “mores” from others.

We could ask a partner for help to lessen our workload. We could find a friend and ask if that person wants to join some activity. We could ask clients for a wage increase on the work we do. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, after all.

But I believe there are times when you shouldn’t ask for more – especially when it comes to money.

Accepting a pay rate for any gig creates a standard of expectation for value delivered. If you provide a particular level of quality and a certain set of services for a determined dollar amount, then that’s it. That’s what you do, and that’s what you deliver, and that’s what you get paid for it. You agreed to it, after all.

Let’s say that in a year’s time, you’re still doing the exact same thing for the exact same pay rate. Should you ask for a raise? I don’t think so.

Remember the movie Flatliners from 1990? I do. The green line on the medical monitor’s screen was completely flat, the hum a dull monotone. The group of med students stood there watching nothing happen.

That’s the case with pay raises: They flatline. Unless something happens to change the situation, unless someone grabs initiative and puts life into the issue, the green line drones on without a blip.

A pay raise has to be justified. When there are no changes in the gig, the working conditions or the outside factors, no valid reason justifies asking for more money for your work. Even reliable loyalty and on-time delivery don’t provide enough justification – being reliable and delivering on time was part of the original contract that you agreed to.

So when can you request a pay raise? Here are some situations when increased wages are completely justified:

  • Your tasks and duties related to the job have increased while your pay rate has remained stable
  • You have increased your skills or improved your service and these changes have affected the results you deliver
  • You have begun providing extra value on a consistent basis and the client would like you to continue doing so
  • The market value of the product or service you provide has increased and your rates aren’t in keeping with that standard
  • Demand for your services has increased and you need to cut back on the number of clients you currently have
  • Economical factors outside your control (such as cost of living) require that you adjust your rates to be able to make ends meet
  • Your writing has increased the customer base or sales of your client and you have measurable results to back up that claim

Simply showing up for the job, being a loyal worker and doing the writing you’re supposed to do doesn’t qualify you for a rate increase. If you’re going to ask for more money, make sure you have good reason to ask for it and proof that you deserve it.

And if you do deserve that pay increase? Stay tuned. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover how to ask for a raise, the best way to announce a rate increase and what to do when your client won’t give you more money for your work.

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’m going into my fourth year on one writing gig and I get paid the same dollar amount today that I did in 2004.

    The issue some might have, I think, is that if you work in an office or anywhere, you are going to get a pay raise at some point in four years. But to me, this is a part of being a freelancer. I don’t get sick leave, vacation pay, or a raise once in awhile.

    If you decide to increase your rates, that is one thing, but personally I still would not do that for existing client unless there was a very good reason (as you pointed out in your post). When I need a pay raise — I choose find new work and increase my workload and overall freelance writing income.

    I think your post had a lot of very good advice for freelancers, and I am looking forward to reading more on this topic.

  2. Does James still write for FWJ? He doesn’t post or respond to comments. I’d like the job if he doesn’t want it. lol.

  3. Nice one Lisa! I am so adding that to my list of “Creative ways to get a new gig”, heh. Maybe James is on vacation or something. I’ve moved on to a different ‘portal’, but caught your message. :)

  4. Hey Lisa,

    I do still write for FWJ, and I’ll be posting once a week, moving up to twice or more a week in the beginning of the next year.

    However, I’ve been sick as a dog for the past two weeks and am just getting back on my feet. I wasn’t able to comment or post during those two weeks, and I’m glad to know that I was missed.

    Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

    James

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