Professional Development, Tips & Techniques

How to successfully get a Raise as a Freelancer

Because no one wants to stay at the same salary.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jul 2, 2022

Throughout the pandemic, people have increasingly left their jobs to pursue careers in freelancing. And with more and more places offering remote options, people have uncovered they work well on their own while staying home. Can you blame them? Freelancing gives you the option to choose your own clients, schedule, and rates.


Perhaps you are a current freelancer or contemplating getting into the field. Like many, you are probably wondering how payments work. And although freelancing and contract work is quite different from corporate settings, maybe you are also interested in some of the perks you had in corporate offices—raises, on-time payments, coffee breaks, and in-office cafeterias.


So as a freelancer, how exactly do you get a raise? Do you contact your boss and plead your case? Do you simply change your freelance rates across the board and offer your next client your new rates? Do you invoice an ongoing client with your new rate with an asterisk at the bottom? What is the proper and most professional way to ask for a raise as a freelancer? And more importantly, how do you make sure you will get said raise? To help you out, here’s the full 411 on successfully getting a raise as a freelancer.


Is it okay to ask for a raise as a freelancer?

We should first start off by saying that you are worth it. Any thought that enters your head that speaks against that isn’t true. Just like you would in a corporate setting, asking for a raise is inevitable as you venture through your career. Think about it. Not many people are, or are willing, to make the same salary year after year. And remember, as inflation changes, so will your salary, making it worth less over time. And besides, you become more of an asset to your employer or client the longer you work with them. This is because you fully understand how they work, processes, and deliverables.


So how do you do this? Each year, you should review your work, your skillset, and decide the rate that’s worthy of the current work you are doing. If it is the same, or a bit above, so be it. If you think you deserve a significant increase, go for it! Plus, if you are doing great work, they will most likely see your new number as the easier route in comparison with going through the work to replace you.


Okay, so how do you change your rate?

Communication is key in any relationship, especially a work-related relationship with a client. Providing your clients with enough time (2-3 months on average) to sort through the increase is where you should always start. Explain to your clients why you are increasing your fees and how it will benefit them.


Make sure to share all the things you have done for the company (improving site traffic, clicks, followers, likes and shares, sales, etc.). Don’t forget to include numbers of sales or engagement, depending on your role. You can also mention hidden fees that might incur daily/weekly/monthly that the client doesn’t think about. This could include printing, cell phone usage, documents, shipping, transcription services, and software programs.


Key tip: Always, always do this step in writing. Draft an email with the subject line of “Rate Increase: Name,” or “Upcoming Change in Rates,” something that is clear enough that tells them exactly what they will find when opening the email. And keep in mind that regardless of how good and logical your proposal is, you might still be greeted with pushback. Be prepared to handle this. Put simply (and please do not say this to your client), as goods rise, so do rates.


It’s also good to keep this practice in mind with new clients. When you sign new clients, it’s a good rule of thumb to share that you periodically, or annually, reassess your rates. This will help them prepare for any potential changes down the line. It goes without saying that if you typically change rates in the final month of the year, it would be unfair to raise the rates on someone you started working with towards the end of the year. This could really affect your relationship with them.


If you’re new to your freelancing journey, this is how you charge on a retainer. Additionally, filing your taxes goes a little bit differently, but here’s how to do it.