You deserve to be paid more! Ask for the rates you deserve with these templates.
Time to talk about one of my favorite subjects: negotiating a higher rate. As freelancers, we’re business owners, and it’s on us to value our work, time, and skill set. The reality is, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. And if you’re not asking for more money, you’re never going to get it.
Every freelancer needs to regularly raise their rates, but this is especially true for women. In 2019, HoneyBook found that female entrepreneurs are making 26 percent less per project. Men are 4.5 times more likely to earn $150,000 compared to women; comparatively, And Co discovered in the same study that most women surveyed make less than $25,000 a year.
I find negotiating rates easier over email, and that’s easier to do when you’ve got templates to turn to.
1. Negotiating rates on the first assignment
I prefer to not quote a rate because then it’s a game of mind-reading bingo. What if I don’t ask for enough? Would the client find this low or high? Instead, I put the ball back in the client’s court to see what they say.
I’m excited to take on this [project/article]. Is there any room in the budget for a higher rate?
2. Negotiating a higher rate for regular assignments
Sometimes you need to revisit the rate on a regular column or writing assignment. Every few months, or after a few articles, ask your editor for a higher rate. Also, make sure that you’re keeping your editor happy by meeting deadlines with clean copy and having good communication with them.
I love [working on this assignment/writing this column]. So far, I’ve done [examples]. I was wondering, is there any room in your budget for a higher rate?
Thanks so much! I love working with you.
And I love this one from Tim Herrera:
“Thanks again for this assignment! I just wanted to ask: We’ve done X, Y, and Z stories together, and I’m wondering if with this new assignment we could revisit my rate? I’d love to be at around [rate]. Thanks!”
3. Negotiating a lower scope of work
Sometimes a client doesn’t have the budget to raise the rate. If you’re still interested in working with them, you can try negotiating a lower scope of work instead. But only do this if you really want to work with them — otherwise, say no to any assignments with them.
I would love to work with you, but that rate is below my fee. I’d like the rate to be around [price].
If that’s not possible, I would be happy to connect you with another freelancer who can accomplish this work.
Note: When you have a good client who isn’t paying enough, it’s time to let them go and refer them to another freelancer. If it’s a bad client who isn’t paying enough, throw them into the abyss.
4. Raising your rate because the scope of work has risen
Sometimes an assignment will exceed the scope of work you’ve agreed on. Don’t give them free labor.
I’m confident I can accomplish your goals, but this is outside of the scope of work previously agreed on. As per our [contract/email], I will deliver [x] per [date]. I can do [requested scope], but as it is outside of the contract, there will be budget changes. Are you okay paying more for the [outcome]?
5. Raising your rate because it’s time, quarterly, or at a specific time of year
I adjust my rates every so often to account for market inflation and new skills, which also allows me to provide you with better service! As of [date, my rate will be [price].
If this new rate doesn’t work for you, let me know. I can connect you with another freelancer who can complete this work for you.
Your Next Steps
Negotiation is a skill that takes practice. It takes time to get comfortable talking about money But you have to start somewhere. The next time you take on an assignment, ask for more. The next time a client or editor reaches out with more work, ask for more. You are running a business, not a contestant on The Price is Right.
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