6 Tips for Asking for a Raise in Your Freelance Writing Pay Rates


Many freelance writers use the beginning of the year as a time to give themselves a well-deserved pay raise.  If you’re a good writer and your customers are pleased, there’s no reason you shouldn’t periodically raise your rates to reflect your status, and, also, to keep up with your cost of living. Most clients won’t balk at a reasonable pay raise if they’re getting bang for their buck. If you’re contemplating a rate increase in 2010, you might be interested in a few tips for approaching clients.

6 Tips for Asking for an Raise in Your Freelance Writing Pay Rates

1. Be honest: If you have a good relationship with your clients, you’ll want to continue that level of trust. Without getting into personal issues or whining, be honest about the reasons you need to increase your rates. It’s essential for you to earn a profit and your clients shouldn’t have any trouble understanding this. If you’re only breaking even, or not earning enough to justify the work put into your projects, kindly explain this to your clients. If it’s important for them to continue working with you, they’ll find a way to do so.

2. Justify your rates: Why do you deserve this pay rate? What can you do for your client that will make him want to pay this extra amount of money for your work. Why are you worth it? Be prepared to justify your rates. Have a script or list available when speaking to your clients so you’re prepared to discuss specific points. If you have statistics to back up your request by all means, use it. For example if your client’s blog experienced a significant increase in traffic, or if your copy caused a product to sell very well, make sure you include the numbers in your discussion.

3. Everything is negotiable: Maybe a special client can’t afford your increase but can afford to pay a little more. There’s no shame in negotiatiating a bit. Use your best judgment but don’t late anyone manipulate you into going too low. Have a cut off point and don’t go any lower. You don’t necessarily have to quote the same rate for each client and each project. While it’s good to be firm, there’s also no harm in negotiating with clients with whom you enjoy a solid relationship.

4. Consider your client’s budget: Before quoting a raise to your client, consider his business and his budget. Clients with an unlimited budget will pay a higher rate than a startup with little funding.

5. Contact each client personally: Don’t send a form letter to clients advising them of an increase, especially if you have a long term relationship. Sending a form letter is so…impersonal. If you can, call and speak to each client in person, or, at the very least, send each one a personalized email. Briefly explain the reason for the increase and discuss options. Personal service yields better results than a form letter any day.

6. Know When to Walk Away: Certain clients are refusing to pay your increase, what do you do? If they’re being stubborn and not agreeing to the raise because they don’t feel you’re justified, or they don’t believe you’ll take your business elsewhere, you’ll have to decide whether or not to call their bluff. However, to continue to give in to your clients means they’ll have the upper hand in payment matters and you’ll never be paid the amount you feel you deserve. If they consistently talk you out of increasing your rates or if they’re flat out refusing to pay, it might mean they don’t respect you or your business. Decide whether or not this is a client you want to keep. This rate increase might be a good way to cut the dead weight.

What are your tips when asking for a raise? Do you find your clients to be accommodating when you request a pay increase?


  1. Phil says

    On No. 3, faster payment could be part of the negotiations. If someone will pay you in 15 days (and you know it), it’s much better than 90 days or “upon publicaton.” Even if one is a regular contributor and a piece is planned, so many pubs are shrinking today that items can get held for multiple issues. This has happened to me more than once.

  2. says

    Honestly–this may not be the best practice for everyone, but my pay rate has always been a per-word rate. I’ve raised it by one-cent increments over the years. During the few times I’ve raised rates, I don’t raise them on existing clients. As I get new clients, I up it. Gradually those old clients fall away naturally but a few stay, continuing to give assignments week after week after week. So eventually, I send them the notice that I’ll no longer be able to write for that rate. At that point, I have a large client base of new clients who are paying the higher rate, so I have nothing to lose. Time and time again, the old client offers to up the rate. Most of them start only sending me higher-level assignments because they can find less experienced writers to write for a lower rate than I’m charging. It seems when you get to the point where you really want to walk away from the lower rates, it all works out somehow. Loyalty is great…but as a writer, you also grow with experience and if they’re paying you what you were making when you were less experienced, they aren’t paying what you’re worth.


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