Will You Raise Your Rates in 2010?

There’s probably no more controversial topic in freelancing than the subject of rates. After all, rates determine how much money we earn, and ultimately, what our lifestyle will be.

Here at Freelance Folder, we’ve talked about rates a lot. We’ve discussed:


Each time we’ve discussed rates, there’s been a ton of discussion (and understandably so).

Many freelancers feel that they are not earning enough, yet often they are afraid that they will not find enough work if they raise their rates.

Recently, however, I’m seeing somewhat of a trend towards freelancers who do charge more for their work and who are willing to say “no” to the low-paying projects. The trend got us wondering:

Will You Raise Your Rates in 2010?

Or, perhaps you already have raised your rates this year. Share your answers and thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. says

    Actually I think I will be doing what Elliot Jay Stocks has done on his own site. On the contact page he asks that people with a budget less than £5000 don’t contact him for work. He has commented that such an approach filters out many clients that would otherwise annoy him and produce low-pay work.

  2. says

    I probably won’t raise my rates this year because I raised them over the summer. My clients were receptive to the increase, but if I increase rates too frequently I’m sure they’ll object.

  3. says

    Thanks Deb!

    I think you make a good point. If you recently raised your rates it may be too soon to do so again. (That would be another discussion, how frequently should a freelancer raise rates…)

    However, some freelancers have been working at the same rate for years. In some cases, for many, many years.

  4. Eric Grint says

    The recession forced me to lower rates a bit to find client projects in last year’s quarter, so m gonna increase my rates.. not only that. the web is getting a huge innovation with css3, coding styles and it means a very good bend to my clients :)

  5. says

    We raise our rates once a year, based on data we gather over the past 12 months. It’s not arbitrary, not a “Oh, it’s Jan 1st, time to make more money!” but rather a, “Is this particular service properly priced? Does that package rate equal the actual hours we put into it on average? Are service fees accurately rated, and is anything showing an overall loss based on time versus rate?”

    Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. It makes no sense, though, to just set an arbitrary price increase without knowing why you should and without supporting data backup to justify it. Otherwise, it’s just a diva action. :)

  6. says

    I have decided to raise my rates this year, yes. After 2 years in business, it was time. For new clients, this new rate will apply automatically, but for existing clients, I’m planning on phasing it in as they approach me with new projects, so I’ll mention to them as I go.

  7. says

    Good feedback everyone!

    Thanks, James, for the thoughtful list of questions a freelancer should consider before they increase their rates.

    There’s no question that not every freelancer is in a position to raise their rates this year.

    How do you decide?

  8. says

    I know when it’s time to raise my rates when:

    *I’ve been working with a particular client for a long period of time without an increase.
    *My own costs and expenses rise.
    *I have more clients than I can handle.
    *Clients are coming to me instead of the other way around.

    Like James, I usually assess my situation every year to year and a half.

  9. says

    Given that some of my costs have gone up, I will be needing to raise my rates. I’m working on finishing a couple of personal projects and at that point the rates will increase. I was going to increase them last year, and didn’t with my existing clients due to the recession – so while I’m sure my clients won’t “like” it, they will understand.

  10. says

    When I first started freelancing about 2 years ago, I started with very low rates just to build up some work samples and add to my portfolio. I started at $8/hour. Now, I’m up to $25/hour. I am slowly inching towards rates that will allow me to continue freelance writing as my main source of income. I raise my rates when I’ve built up enough experience in a niche market. For example, in the course of the past year, I’ve written & formatted over 20+ marketing e-books, cause enough to increase my marketing e-book rates as my confidence and client testimonials have grown in this area.

    So to answer the question, yes my rates will continue to slowly increase during 2010 as my portfolio grows.

  11. says

    I usually align my rates with the latest issue of Writers Market. I can always play with the rates according to the client and how much work they give me.

    For instance, I recently worked for a non-profit at almost a 50% off rate but the volume of work kept me busy for over four months and now I am on retainer to the company for a specific monthly rate.

    So, even though I could have realized more income, I think the discount paid off. Plus, her web design company liked my work and working with me so much that they now use me regularly.

    That is a dream come true. I think you have to be flexible and set rates as a guideline but to also not short yourself when it comes to fees–both by under estimating your value or by overcharging.

  12. says

    We are raising our rates for SEO services but not for our other services. In addition to doing SEO and internet marketing for our clients we have a large portfolio of personal projects.

    The decision to raise our SEO rates were based on the value of an hour spent marketing our own stuff verses spending an hour for a client. At our prior rates we were actually losing money working for clients. This was ok when SEO was an upsell to a larger project but not when SEO was being asked for as a stand alone project.

    Instead of raising our rates for design and development we are turning down most small budget projects. We have found that the small clients seem to use up just as much time as the bigger ones.

  13. says

    Good points that people have pointed out on the comments.

    @Salma Jafri – I agree that you should increase your rates once you have a larger portfolio, but only if it is a portfolio of quality work and not just bulk “samey” projects.

    The more you can justify the increase in rate through better design and quality the more people will be willing to pay it. I’ve found that the more projects I have under my belt, the happier people are to pay more as they feel like you are worth the investment.

    Sam Thompson
    http://www.samuelthompson.co.uk

  14. says

    I’ve raised my prices by roughly 10%. Here in the United Kingdom the VAT has gone back up to 17.5% and it’s only going to get higher. I figured I should cover any losses and then some by raising prices. Plus, I’m starting to get more serious clients who are willing to pay the higher prices, so I figured it’s about time ;).

  15. says

    I’ve raised my rates as well and stopped accepting full web coding projects under $500. I’m to the point where I’m so scheduled up, I can choose the higher paying jobs and turn away the lower ones.

  16. says

    This is a very controversial topic that many seem to disagree on. One big issue I think is that freelancers generally aren’t 100% sure how to differentiate themselves from others, so the client only has price to go on.

    In the absence of all other evidence, price will always be a factor… and that is when your rates become an issue.

    However, when you get a reputation for being incredibly reliable and very skilled in your area, then you can raise your prices. The reason for this is that people build these factors in when they choose you. They don’t tell you that but they do.

    So have a think of the factors you can work on to get you up that reputation ladder and charging more for your time.

  17. says

    Bad economics, recession, global financial, recovery and retrenchment forced all other salaried workers to take pay cut and companies to restrict spending. Who wouldn’t want to raise their rates and we have even 1001 reasons to justify them but sometimes it’s not up to our choice to decide.

  18. says

    Our rates have gone up, but so has the complexity of the projects we’ve been taking on.
    With each project, our framework improves so the time to dish out a site with more features takes less and less time.

  19. says

    For my current and ongoing clients I am trying to increase my rates but at a minimum. For new clients I will be increasing my rates a fair amount but thy still might be too low. We will see how it goes…

  20. says

    I just raised my rates with a long-term client after three years. I was nervous at first, but had a great conversation with my client before formalizing the increase. We talked about how I could add more value and therefore justify the new rate. I think it’s very important to clearly set expectations up front and then work hard to exceed them. That way everybody wins :)

  21. says

    I started as a freelance graphic designer with considerably lower rates than industry standard. Having been in the business for a few years now (2 years since starting my own company) I made the move to increase my rates this year…… not by a huge amount but a gradual increase. This will apply to new clients…… however I have also included a discount for any new client I take on – for their first invoice – allowing me to grab the business during this recession and with confidence they will choose me for work going forward.

    Great article/topic and insightful comments!

  22. says

    Well I think that is the basic rule of economy, increase in demand should lead to price increase, so if you are getting more work than you can handle raise your rates until the demand starts to decrease.
    But be careful…

  23. says

    I don’t like to raise my rates in January bc clients are already working with new things, new year, getting back right after the holidays….If I raise my rates, I tend to wait until a less crazy month like April. And then, I only raise them if I have a reason such as too much work to handle, trying to weed out lower paying clients, I’ve learned more via work or training so I feel I can charge more, etc. I’d love to raise my rates, but I just don’t feel right now is the correct time.

  24. says

    New decade, new rates. I’ve eased in about a 10% increase with out any noticeable backlash but two things help out with this:

    1. I never give out my rates on any quote.

    2. I’m finding ways to be more efficient in my work to effectively increase my “rate.”

  25. says

    Thanks to everyone who chipped in on this discussion here and on the Freelance Folder fan page.

    While everyone’s answer is a little bit different, it does seem that the vast majority of us will be raising our rates some time during 2010.

  26. says

    I raised my rates last fall (well, not so much raise as firmly set them). All new clients are on the new hourly or project rate. I have a couple of clients that have been getting “discounted” rates (they negotiated down from my old rate– now you see why I set them firmly?) and, although the volume of work is pretty good, the hassle of constantly hounding them for payment is getting to me. They will most probablyabsolutelydefinitely see rate increases this year.

  27. says

    I awarded myself a small cost of living increase this year and have standardised my rates so they reflect an appropriate hourly rate. No one has complained; in fact I’m busier than ever. :)

  28. says

    A good way to filter low budget clients is to set a drop down field on your contact page for the project budget and set the minimum amount to one you’re comfortable with
    I will probably raise my rates in a few months.

  29. says

    I’ve only done a small amount of freelance work and since then I’ve been working full time for an agency, but yeah I think that raising your rates is a good idea unless you’re blatantly charging too much already!

  30. says

    I have a question. As a starter I currently have a single client. I have a lot of potential clients and the phone seems to be the easier choice. Or is it better contacting them in face to face, how do you think?

  31. says

    I definitely think it’s reasonable to raise rates with long term clients when the time feels right. I was really nervous about doing this, but when I suggested it to my client earlier this month, they didn’t just agree, they said “Why didn’t WE think of that!” Now I’m wondering if I should have asked for more. :-)

  32. says

    On average majority of our clients kept their rates the same during 2010. Some reduced them for clients in difficulty and have found great support when these clients have come out of the bad times. Others were able to increase their rates – but not by a great deal.

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