Why They’ll Pay You

What’s on the iPod: Numb by The Airborne Toxic Event

Good day yesterday. The first session of the webinar went well – we had great questions from our attendees! I was glad I talked fast and was done a bit early, because there were plenty of questions to fill up the extra time. If you’re interested, there’s still time to catch the second half of the webinar tomorrow. Click here and join us! Plus you’ll get a recording of the first session and a PDF of the slides I’m using.

I had a ton of smallish things to get done before and after the webinar. I had one more interview for my article, and I got an invoice out, plus checked up on a few of my outstanding projects. Also, I had time to go over invoices. I’m going to be one happy little camper when they’re all paid. A great month, and next month is shaping up into a similar situation.

It makes me wonder why I waited so long to raise my rates. I’ve given myself two raises in nine years. That’s not good–even 9-to-5 worker bees get at least 3 percent every year.

So why not us?

Because we’re chicken. Some writers worry that springing a larger per-hour rate on clients will have them running for the exits. A sensible concern on the surface. Here’s why that’s not so:

Good clients will pay what you’re worth. Have I not preached myself hoarse about valuing your work? There’s a reason for that. Clients who are willing to pay a handsome rate do so because they realize your value. Isn’t it time you realized it, too?

Those who don’t pay aren’t your clients. While that may sound like an arrogant statement, it’s just a business fact. People who prefer paying 99 cents for McDonald’s coffee aren’t Starbucks’ customers. It’s not saying one is better than another (I’ll let coffee drinkers debate that). It’s saying that each company has positioned itself in a specific market with a specific price point. Decide who your clients are and at what price point they exist.

If you do it right, clients may not even notice. When my rates went up, most of my clients never realized it. I didn’t advertise it. I simply rolled that additional fee into any new project estimate. I’ve gotten out of the habit somewhat (not entirely) of not advertising my hourly rate. Clients may want to know, but it’s not much help  to them. I can tell them “I charge $125 an hour” but it’s more helpful to tell them “The project will take eight hours and will cost $1,000.” They can budget against that. Don’t lie if they ask, but know that their main concern is the bottom line. Get to that as quickly as possible.

When was your last raise? Are you earning at or near what you should? Do you know what it is you should be making?

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  • Devon Ellington July 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Nope, not earning what I should be, but taking steps to change it.

  • Krista July 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I have not really raised rates too much with long-term clients. I'm more so gradually replacing them with clients who pay more. Why? I started out mainly with general web content. Now I've moved more so into reading passages/assessment. The latter pays more industry wide because, honestly, there is a lot more to it and clients generally require degrees and teaching credentials. These are really the only jobs I even apply for now.

    And I've gotten to the point where I can cut out the "middle man." Holy, what a difference that made!!

    Still, it would always be nice to make more 🙂

  • Kimberly Ben July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Lori, I don't advertise rate increases either. They're incremental (and honestly don't happen all that often)and a formal announcement just asking setting you (writer) up to defend the reason behind the increase.

    I agree, Krista – cutting out the middle man makes a HUGE difference.

  • Krista July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    It's crazy, isn't it, Kimberly?

    I figure a lot of my "clients working for clients" were taking a cut of up to 50 percent! And really all they were doing was sending my work off and sending me what they got back from the client. I was still the one doing the edits and such.

  • Sharon Hurley Hall July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I love point 3 – I'll test that out the next time I increase my rates.

  • Lori July 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Devon, good for you. You certainly deserve more!

    Krista, sounds like a great progression you're making! I totally agree — clients working for clients often expect a cut in your hourly rate. My question is why? Wouldn't paying my rate without the discount be like their clients paying their rate without the discount? I'll never understand why it's okay for us to make sacrifices, but not them.

    Kim, exactly why I don't. If the clients aren't aware of my rate in the beginning, there's no reason to point it out later. They'll either agree to the project fee or not.

    If I'm working with a client on an hourly rate, I will mention it. That's info they already are privy to and they have every right to know about it.