freelance writing

The Smart Freelance Writer’s Guide to Raising Rates

Finally, after months and months of trying, when you’re about to give up – you get your first client.

At first, you were determined to charge what you’re worth but then you decided to cut your client some slack since she would be your first.

Or better yet, you got that great client you’ve enjoyed working with for the past months/years but you aren’t sure how you’re going to go about raising your rates.

If you’re in a situation like this, you don’t have to worry.

You are not alone.

Most freelance writers don’t know they can raise their rates. On the other hand, some of those who know they can are kind of afraid of the consequences.

This post will give you a few tips on how you can raise your rates as a freelance writer, but first let’s get into some benefits of raising your rates:

It Makes You Feel Enthusiastic about the Work: Nothing speaks more volume to a freelance writer than to know a client cares about what she does.

While there are many ways a client can prove her care for what you do, one of the best ways is by paying you what you’re worth.

I’ve worked with various clients myself, but one thing I’ve noticed is that I’m more committed to giving the best to some clients than others.

For example, if I have a client who’s passionate about what she does and is willing to pay me what I’m worth, I go out of my way to deliver my best for her.

Seeing your rates increase with a particular client makes you feel like the client actually cares, and as a result – influences your enthusiasm for, and the quality of the work.

In other words, not only do you win. Your client wins, too!

It Proves You’re Growing: The worst thing you could experience is being on the same spot for years.

I’m not sure about you, but I hate that feeling!

Raising rates represent growth. This in turn affects your morale and outlook of yourself, and as a result helps you deliver more.

Just think about it, if people in salaried jobs could get salary and benefit increases on a yearly basis – why can’t you enjoy the same, (especially when you’re enjoying a greater form of freedom than most of them currently are)?

It Fattens Your Wallet: Oh, you’ll probably read a few comments about why freelance writing isn’t about fattening your wallet… but it is.

No one wants to work just to improve their skills, especially when they can improve their skills and get paid for it.

Freelance writers aren’t created to be broke, or to get the lowest wages.

I know a lot of successful freelance writers making 6 figures a year. Carol Tice from being a great example!

You have responsibilities and duties, too. And it doesn’t hurt to be able to afford whatever you want whenever you want.

Raising your rates fattens your wallet, helps you earn more while working in your own time, and as a result ensures a more comfortable life for you as a freelance writer.

8 Tips on Raising Your Rates as a Freelance Writer

To be honest, raising your rates isn’t going to be easy.

I’ve been through it before, and I know how nerve racking it can be.

However, if you want to move forward in your career as a freelance writer you just have to do it.

Here are 5 tips on raising your rates as a freelance writer:

1. Know Your Client: If you shouldn’t be working for your client in the first place then a raise will probably not be worth it.

If you’re working with a client who pays you $3 per article, who discovered you by posting a job where you had to bid alongside dozens of others on oDesk, then there’s every probability the client will go back to oDesk to look for other writers if you ask for a raise.

What do you do in this case? Fire that client!

2. Up Your ValueInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein

Imagine this scenario:

You got a particular client a few years ago when competition wasn’t exactly tough for your form of writing.

Even though there are countless people willing to do the same job for a fraction of what you charge, your client is still happy to work with you because they enjoy your style of writing and they have used your services for years.

How will you go about telling them you want a raise because your skills have improved?

To be honest, it doesn’t make sense!


Your clients don’t care about whether your skills have improved or not, they care about whether your services for them have improved.

So don’t do the same work you’re doing two years ago and expect different pay. It’s not going to happen!

3. Embrace Flexibility: With this approach, there’ll often be little need for you to raise your rates.

Essentially, the idea behind this is to charge per word instead of per article. In other words, by going for $0.30 per word, you can make $300 for 1,000 words and you can make $450 for 1,500 words.

See how this works?

To get the best of this, try to embrace the idea of working with clients on a price per word basis instead of on a price per article basis.

There are cases where you’ll want to outdo yourself and produce better work; by embracing flexibility, you get paid fairly no matter how great your work is.

4. Be Mentally Prepared: Like I’ve said before, it can be nerve-racking asking your client for a raise, because you don’t know how she’ll respond.

For this very reason, make sure you’re prepared for anything and ask for the raise with confidence.

I once I had a client who paid me around $50 – $70 per article. Then the client suddenly reduced the rate for the same kind of article to around $30 – $50 per article due to “market rates”.

I wasn’t having it, so I told the client I was going to quit. He suggested an idea to me and I now make between $100 – $200 per article with him.

If I wasn’t prepared to quit, I’d probably still be doing $30 articles – or less – for that client right now.

5. Don’t Worry about Market Rates: Worry about your rates. The market won’t feed you.

Depending on your location and situation, your needs will be different.

I’m in Nigeria for example where electricity and internet connectivity is not stable. In this regards I probably have to spend more than people in countries where energy supply isn’t a problem when trying to get my work done.

Of course, a lot of other factors will determine the true cost of living but it’s all about you.

Sometimes, you have to determine whether you want to get paid to barely feed yourself or whether you want to work for just 5 days in a month and get paid more than enough for 30 days.

Of course, your confidence and skills will have a huge say in this.

6. Get Other Clients: I don’t think I can stress this enough, but having more than one client will give you an advantage.

When I was just starting out as a freelance writer I signed an agreement with my first client which meant I couldn’t work with other clients. This was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

Of course, the client was great and I loved working with his company. But the issue was I had little say when income was being discussed, because I didn’t have any leverage. I was in a position where I could’ve lost my entire source of income.

Now that I have 6 clients and decide whom to work with and when, I have an upper hand when negotiating.

The more demand for your services, the more comfortably you can work less and get paid more.

Negotiating, especially if not done right after a long time of getting paid the same rate, can put you at risk of losing a particular client. Make sure you have backup in place in preparation for situations like these.

7. Use Instant Messaging: The software that has contributed the most to my business is free, and what it does is make it easy for me to instant message my clients for important decisions.

It’s Skype.

When talking about rates or important business, I try to get my clients to get on Skype; this gives me an advantage since I can see their reaction towards what I say (unlike with email) and I can help allay their fears and prove how effective paying what I’m worth will be for their business.

Skype has probably made me tens of thousands of dollars in additional income, and I can’t recommend it enough. Most importantly, it’s free!

8. Do it Now! The longer it takes to negotiate, the more difficult it becomes. You will feel as much pressure as you feel to negotiate next year as you’re feeling right now.

Besides, you’ll still have to do it anyway so why delay negotiating?

Your Experience!

Have you ever negotiated your rates with a client before? What was your experience?

Do you have any other tips you think should be on the list? Please share them in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to share this post with two or three freelancer friends of yours. They’ll thank you for it!

27 replies on “The Smart Freelance Writer’s Guide to Raising Rates”

Ahmed Safwansays:

The only problem is getting clients.

When we get clients, we work with them, and do our best.

If he liked the services, and I asked him for increase, he would gave it to me.

This is what I think about this topic.

Ahmed Safwan

Saytue "Sayewhat"says:

Thank you so much for this great info Oni. I use skype everyday and I never thought about actually using it to make money. lol. When it comes to talking business, I kind of feel intimidated because I stutter. I guess I have to get over that fear if I want to better myself, right?! As far as charging per word instead of per article, I will definitely see how it works out for me. Anyways, thanks for the nice tips.

Saytue Saye

Bamidele Onibalusisays:

Actually, you could chat.

I don’t use the Skype calling features when communicating with my clients. I use the chat feature, and not only does that give me the same advantage of instant communication but it also hides my nervousness to some extent.

Saytue "Sayewhat"says:

Aha! I see:-)

tukang kompor menulissays:

Very-very useful article, thanks Oni…

As you said I too have never given importance to Skype nor I’d any idea how useful this tool can become later in my business. But now most of my clients are in touch with me from around the globe in Skype. I can now give the credit to this communication software.

Bamidele Onibalusisays:

I’m glad to hear Skype’s been working for you too 🙂

I especially like the last point to “do it now”! Raising rates was one of the hardest things I did, and I procrastinated on it because I was scared people wouldn’t pay. But they did. If I’d done it sooner, I could have relaxed a lot more and earned more for the exact same writing!

Bamidele Onibalusisays:

Exactly, Ruth!

I think that’s actually the most important point. Your knowledge doesn’t matter if you don’t put it into use.

Negotiating seems difficult to do at first, but when you do it you blame yourself for not doing it sooner.

Anthony Swenskisays:

people fear getting clients, as a matter of fact it’s hard, but for new entrants patience is required, i suggest don’t ever try to be hasty in such a way that dirty your profile, try to maintain a clean social profile and you will get clients.

Steve @ Android Tabletssays:

First it’s like tasting the ice-cream, then licking it up totally and after that enjoying it. That is what it seems to me in the transition of phases of freelancing services.

Wade Balsdonsays:

Hi Onibalusi, where is the link for the free software that can make me money?

One more useful article as usual. Thanks oni 🙂

Wow Oni
Thats a very powerful post. It has really helped me in how i can negotiate for better pay with my clients.

Bamidele Onibalusisays:

I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

Krisette Capatisays:

Hi Bamidele.

Thank you so much for these tips. Spin sucks, fresh content rocks!
I’ll certainly apply these tips!

Happy to connect with you too.

All the best from Philippines,
Sette C.

Bamidele Onibalusisays:

I think the tips in this article can be used irrespective of whom you work for.

The issue in the first place is how did you find your client, and what’s the quality of the service you’re offering to them. Most clients will happily pay more for quality!

I didn’t start using Skype until a few months ago. Actually I was made to start using it by a client who felt comfortable with it.

Reading your post shows that there’s more to Skype than clarifying article specifications with a client.

Knowing that we can use Skype to raise prices is good to know but how to use it is just as important. One thing a previous client taught me was, “Never let the conversation end with you”. I believe this is an important ingredient in negotiation.

This post says a lot and is pretty practicable. If you did it, then we can!
Keep up the good work Oni!

Thanks Oni, for reminding us of the usefulness of Skype in the freelancing business. I realised the potential of Skype when I was creating my first website. My web developer introduced me to the screen sharing feature of Skype. With this feature, I could follow what he was doing 0n his PC to make changes on my site. We used the free Skype-to-Skype Call service. It was such an eye-opener.

Timothy Arendssays:

Interesting post, as usual. It would be interesting to see a recreation or partial transcript of the dialog you have with a client when you are negotiating your fee. Maybe a topic for another article.

Fantastic article. Loved it. Keep up the good work Bamidele..:)

You made some great points, Onibalusi!

I also use Skype a lot when it comes to my freelance work. It takes a lot of e-mail communication to discuss the project in more details. I try to get clients on Skype to avoid that and talk in real time. I’ve also noticed that clients who don’t want to get on Skype to discuss the project are usually not the best clients anyway, since they clearly don’t care about their own project enough, which spells trouble.

Great post, and thanks for the mention, Oni!

My favorite time of year for raising rates is actually coming up — mid-November.

That’s when you say, “My rates have been rising all year, but I’ve kept you at the same rate. But at this point, I don’t have any clients at this rate anymore. That’s why starting Jan 1., my new rate will be $X. Let me know if that works for you.”

Obviously, as you point out, Oni, you need other clients so that you’re ready to drop this client and walk away if they won’t raise you. You can’t ask for a raise unless you’re ready to leave if they decline. Otherwise you’re that client’s doormat forever…they know they can exploit you.

Good article, but i have never tried skype though, still waiting to purchase my new dell with webcam the i know how it feels

Hello Oni I must say I admire your courage and style. You seem very confident and ambitious. It is really tough for freelancers in Nigeria but with determination you will make it. I have also noticed that a lot of clients feel more comfortable using skype to communicate probably because it is more secure and can be used as evidence for all conversations. it has helped me too. And I couldn’t agree more with the mother of the Den you need new clients to give new rates but make your transitions gradual.


LOL , surely it will fatten the wallet. 😀 😀

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