3 Reasons Your Rates Are Still Low (And How To Start Raising Them)

Golden Building SkylineIf your rates are lower than you want them to be, don’t blame the economy.  Don’t blame the state of your particular industry.  And for the love of the business, don’t blame the competition.

If your paychecks aren’t all you’ve been hoping for, you’ve got to take a good look in the mirror and think about how you’re running your business.

Here are 3 common rate-killing mistakes that could be keeping you scrounging rather than thriving.

Let’s dive in.

Mistake #1 — Not Investing in Your Skills

I think Brian Tracy put it best when he said this:

One of the smartest things that you can do is to invest three percent of your earnings every month back into yourself on personal and professional development, on becoming better at the most important things you do. In fact, if you just invested as much in your mind each year as you do in your car, that alone could make you wealthy.

If you’re honest with yourself, bells should be going off at this point.  If you’re not setting aside the time and the money to improve your skills, then why should your rates go up?  If you want to be worth more, you have to be worth more. You have to be willing to take what you’re already pretty good at and get incredibly good at it so justifying your increase is a no-brainer.

Now Take Action

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have the money,” stop wasting it.  I’m not making a personal call on your life, but most people say they’re broke while plunking down $5 for a latte or eating out more often than they need to.  Same goes for time, too.  You want more time?  Turn off the TV.  There’s a reason they call it the electronic income reducer (and if you’re truly strapped for cash, go see where to find affordable education for freelancers).

Mistake #2 — Not Leaving A Market You’ve Outgrown

Everybody enters the freelance market asking far less than they are worth – it’s the nature of the business.  As your experience increases, you may feel the pull to raise your rates, but eventually you’re going to hit a ceiling.  I found this out the hard way after my 30-day freelancing experiment – I wanted to earn more from writing, but I’d hit the peak of what I could realistically charge for article rewrites and basic copywriting.

To earn more, I had to accept the fact that I’d outgrown my market and look for a market that would support the higher rates that I wanted to charge — namely, writing for large blogs and creating original SEO-rich content for bigger businesses.  By looking for a new customer demographic I was able to more than double my rates in a short amount of time.  If you’re feeling like your rates have become stagnant, you may need to do the same.

Now Take Action

Think about the services you provide and the rates you charge.  Then ask yourself the simple powerful question: “What kind of customer usually pays a lot more for this kind of work?”  It may seem hard to believe, but you really can boost your rates simply by choosing a different kind of customer.

Mistake #3 — Not Maxing Out Your Confidence Levels

Confidence is the #1 factor in determining how much you can charge your clients.  It’s not about what you can do or how good you are, it’s about how good you believe you are. When you have high levels of confidence, you approach every aspect of your business differently, and you aren’t afraid to ask for what you are really worth to the clients you serve.  (You also aren’t afraid to chase bigger clients, either.)

The stumbling block many freelancers face ist that they think confidence is a character trait – something that some people have, and other people don’t — and they don’t think they can change it.  But that’s not true at all.  You can change your confidence levels in a heartbeat, and you can use that confidence to push your rates higher than ever.

Now Take Action

The simplest way to increase your confidence is to stop judging yourself and start judging the results you get for your clients.  How have you helped them?  How are you better than their other freelancers?  How are they better off having worked for you?  Get a stronger sense for how you boost their bottom line and you’ll feel your confidence levels surge.

Your Rates May Be Low … But They Can Change

If your rates are too low, then now is the time to start turning the tide.  Ask yourself if you’re making any (or all) of these three mistakes, and begin taking action as necessary.  And if you’ve got your own rate-boosting tips to add, share them in the comments below — and as always, thanks for reading.  :-)