4 Things You Need to Raise Your Freelance Writing Rate

Okay.

You’ve been freelance writing for a while now but you still aren’t making any headway. Most of your projects are one-offs or ad hoc pieces and nothing is consistent.

You’re not sure why because you feel your rate is reasonable and that you’re a good writer. So, why aren’t you making a living from your freelance writing business?

4 Things You Need to Raise Your Freelance Writing Rate

Why does a week go by and all you’ve submitted is one invoice for one 500-word post?

It’s because you’re not raising your rate.

Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it? Raise my rates and I’ll get more work?

Well, yes and no. There’s a bit more to it, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

But, first, if you have no time to read this post, check out my YouTube video on how to raise your freelance writing rate and make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Your Rate Can Attract or Repel Clients

When I first started, I quoted a low rate – $.04/word. I was new and I wasn’t sure how much value I could provide so I figured it was more than what content mills were asking for, but less than what experienced writers were quoting.

What I found though, was I was repelling quality clients. Instead, I was attracting lower quality clients.

See, low quality clients don’t care about your writing or your worth. They only care about time and how much content you can write in a set time period (Psst…a lot of these clients hang around Upwork and other freelance marketplaces like that).

These types of clients run their content on a time-based model and need cheap content fast.

I knew I didn’t want to stay at that level. My time was limited and I really wanted to focus on generating enough income to live on.

I learned early on it was my rate that was holding me back. It wasn’t until I raised my rates that I soon was attracting quality clients.

You’re probably thinking, but how do I do that?

If you’re stuck churning out work for pennies I’m sure you can’t imagine raising your rate.

You’re afraid that if you raise your rate, you won’t land any clients.

Can I tell you a little secret? If you SHOW prospects your WORTH, they will pay your rate.

How do you do this when you’re new?

If you want to raise your rate there are a few things you can do to show prospects your worth. I found that once I did these four things, it was easy to jump from $.04/word to $.10/word and then to $.20/word and now upwards towards $.30/word – in under a year.

Want to know how I was able to raise my rate 650%?

1. Be Okay With the Loss

Let’s get real here. Just because you made the internal decision to go from $.05/word to $.10/word doesn’t mean prospects will be scrambling to hire you because they suddenly realize your value as a writer.

This is what will happen: a prospect contacts you for blog content and asks for your rate. You respond by linking to some sample pieces in their niche and you give them your rate (that you hemmed and hawed about, but decided it’s worth a try to quote your high-end rate) and press send.

Two days later you get an email that maybe says this:

no-hire-rate-out-of-budget

You know what? With every rate increase, I get several of these emails in return. But then, there will be one prospect that doesn’t bat an eye and accepts my proposed rate.

So, if you want to work on raising your rate, you need to be okay with the possibility that you won’t land a client at this new rate for a while.

But, what if you can’t afford not having work for awhile? I get it. You NEED money so you’re going to keep pitching your low rate just so you can get ANY work. I understand.

But, try pitching your higher end rate every fifth pitch you send out. In the beginning, you’re going to be working for lower paying clients, building up your reputation and your portfolio. You’re also going to go back and forth pitching a new rate until you land a client with that new rate.

And it will happen. Trust me.

2. Update Your Portfolio

This is critical to raising your rate.

Prospects need to see quality samples in their niche. But, in the beginning, your goal is to get a byline anywhere, from any site, right?

After you landed your first few guest posts and maybe have a client piece up on your portfolio, you now need to really work on making an impression with your writing.

This is when you try to land guest spots on popular sites like Smart Blogger or Scary Mommy for example. Depending on your niche, you want to land guest posts on popular sites in your niche.

You also want to start pruning your portfolio and remove pieces that:

  • Don’t reflect your best writing
  • Aren’t in a niche you want to get paid to write for

Make sure to put the portfolio pieces in your preferred niche first on your page.

When I first started freelance writing, my portfolio page was just a collection of any post I had a byline for. I was ecstatic to land a guest post and over the moon once I landed clients.

There was no rhyme or reason to my portfolio.

It wasn’t until some time in 2015 that I categorized my portfolio pieces and made a conscious effort to highlight my best pieces first.

portfolio-2015

Now, I’m highlighting pieces in my intended niche – digital marketing .

portfolio

So, before you go raising your rate, take a look at your portfolio. It is impressive? Do you have a good number of quality articles and posts in your niche? Do you have posts on popular sites?

When these are in place, your value increases which makes your new high rate logical in a prospect’s mind.

Get out there and pitch (and guest post too)! All that hard work will pay off.

I’m inviting key experts to help my course participants of Write Your Way to Your First $1k over in the private Facebook group. It’s not too late to join!

3. Spruce Up Your Website

I recently wrote about different ways to attract clients with your website since I re-vamped my entire site.

Having a professional looking website for your freelance writing will help you command a higher rate.

What if you don’t have the budget to shell out for a premium or customized WordPress theme? That’s okay. You can still have a professional looking free WordPress site.

You need to remember that prospects can’t meet you face to face. They can only judge who you are from your website or Skype meeting. So, if you have a professional looking site, prospects will believe you are a legit business and not some mommy blogger writing in her bedroom. 😉

So, what makes a site look professional?

  • It’s minimalist – there’s not a lot of clutter on your site and your menu is easy to navigate
  • It’s easy to read – Is your content width too long? Do you have to keep scrolling and scrolling to read your site? Is your font small? All of these little things can turn off a prospect quickly
  • Does your copy speak to the client? – Are you demonstrating the benefits to prospects once they hire you?

Here are some professional sites from freelance writers:

brent-jones

Brent Jones a former freelance copywriter, social media manager and email marketer tells you what he was. When you go to his site, you can instantly tell he’s not doing this as a hobby. He means business.

maham-chappal

Maham Chappal’s site doesn’t play around. As soon as you land on her site, she immediately speaks to the client. Her site is simple yet highly optimized for acquiring business.

kaleigh website

Kaleigh Moore is a copywriter and social media consultant. Her site is a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to read, full of white space and it’s easy to navigate.

You can bet these writers aren’t taking gigs below $100.

4. Grab Some Testimonials

The last thing you should do before you start raising your rates is to grab some testimonials. Social proof is all the rage now and if you don’t have other people vouching for your awesome writing skills, good luck trying to convince a total stranger to hire you.

New clients need that social nod from others that you are worth it.

But, what if you’re so new you don’t even have a client to ask for a testimonial? That’s fine. When I first started – and before I had a client – I asked other freelance writers to give me a testimonial.

Ask your family for one.  Maybe your sister needs help with her résumé or your brother-in-law wants some copy for his store’s latest advertisement.

You can even do a barter with local businesses. Provide some content in exchange for a testimonial.

Use these little instances to ask for glowing testimonials. And then put them on your homepage.

Showcasing your best testimonials on your homepage helps convince a prospect right away that you’re the real thing.

What About Writing?

Did you notice I didn’t include “improve your writing” as one of the things you need to increase your rate?

Writing is only a small part in your freelance writing business. Believe it or not marketing, networking and learning best practices in our industry is what will help you raise your rates.

A couple months ago I got a message on Twitter from Kevin J. Duncan inviting me to write for OptinMonster.

First of all, I never connected with Kevin and only knew of him via his posts on Smart Blogger. So getting any nod from him was huge in my book.

But, then he invited me to write for OptinMonster. What an amazing opportunity!

This all came about because of my connections with Adam Connell and Sue Ann Dunlevie. By investing in blogger outreach and having them as clients, I was able to land this amazing gig.

Now, I’m not saying if you’re a poor writer you can still make hundreds of dollars a post. What I am saying is if you’re a good writer to begin with and you have the passion and desire to keep learning, through time you will naturally become a better writer.

One more thing thing to also keep in mind when setting your rate and raising your rate is something Brent Jones mentioned on his blog that,

[Y]ou don’t have to be an expert, you just have to do something your client can’t, or have the time to do something your client’s doesn’t have.

Let that sink in for a while….

Ready to Raise Your Rate?

So, are you ready?

Figure out your new rate and work on these four things, and you’ll have more success each time you raise your rate.

I have another post in the works about negotiating rates with current clients. I recently negotiated a new rate with one of my older clients and I want to share what happened because it can be tricky to tell a client your new rate.

So, are you ready to raise your rate in your next pitch?

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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21 Comments

Haha this was a timely read. I am starting out in freelancing (just finished your 6-day email course!) and recently applied for a blogging gig I reeeeally wanted. They replied within a day and asked me what my rate was. I gave them a quote that amounted to $0.10/word and *poof!* No response since. Siiiiigh. Good riddance, I guess.Reply to Emily
Hi Emily, Yes, pitching is a numbers game. Don’t let that non-response slow you down! So happy you took my free course. Keep on pitching and let me know what happens!Reply to Elna
Thanks Elna for the 4 incredible things to follow. I was living with this fear to loose the clients if I increased the rates and to be honest, it did happen. After reading your post, I feel that it is okay and little loss is quite acceptable. I have to focus on working on guest post. Guide me if you have any easy and simple guest post article that actually gives the opportunity to aspiring writers. By the way, your writing style is so easy to understand. Thanks again for the wonderful post. Aspiring blogger Arfa Nazeer http://epife.com/Reply to Arfa
Hi Arfa, That’s great that this post will help you with your rate. As for guest posting, I do have this post to help you out: https://elnacain.com/blog/how-to-land-guest-post/Reply to Elna
Hi Elna: Thanks so much for the great tips. This post inspired me to spend an entire weekend updating my site. I’ve been thinking of raising my rates for a while. When I finally raised my rates it was conflicting at first, because what I thought was a promising lead, emailed me a day later and said my new rates were higher than her company budget. I think you’re right about the fact that it takes time to find a client that’s okay with the new rate, but it’s also totally worth it!Reply to Rosemary
Hi Rosemary, That’s great you took action and thank you so much for your comment. You’re right, if a client doesn’t agree with your rate, then they aren’t your client. It’s hard to say no, I know, but in the end you will come out ahead. Thanks for stopping by!Reply to Elna
I think this is best way to get your freelancing rates increased. I could follow that facts you have described than it will become very easy to be on the top of it. I have been freelancing for the last 3 years but couldn’t find any strategy like this to get helped in increasing my writing rates. I hope this would be helpful for all writers!! And that would really be beneficial for our clients too!! Thanks for sharing!!Reply to Joe
Hi Elna, Thanks for the shout out! I’m so glad Adam and Sue Anne introduced me to your writing. Isn’t networking an amazing thing? So many opportunities arise out of the blue. 🙂 It’s a treat getting to work with you at OptinMonster. I must admit to being spoiled… My job as an editor is a breeze when I have great writers like you! Off to tweet… – @kevinjduncanReply to Kevin
Hey Kevin, Thanks again for this amazing opportunity. I’ve really honed my skill as a writer and digital marketer so it’s nice when everything comes into place. And it’s true, networking is just as important, or more, if you want to succeed as a writer.Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Talking of Twitter and getting found by others, guess how I found you just now? That’s right, a tweet from Brent Jones! Your post here and its message shows how taking time to know what end result you want to happen as a result of what you’re doing online (or planning to do). This gives you a plan, a path, to follow that really pays off in results. For example, people and clients amongst them, start coming to you. Once you’ve established yourself and are working within your plan to reach your end result, factors like pricing yourself at certain levels, only help to bring your ideal clients and work to you. In attracting higher paying clients and raising your rates, think of it as choosing clients whose own message/business is one you’re proud to talk about. – TomReply to Tom
Hi Tom, I always like to hear how new readers find me! Thanks Brent for the tweet! Great advice. It’s true, when you start focusing on attracting clients, your ideal client will eventually surface – if you do it right. This makes it easier to establish your rate and increase your rate over time. I’ve had success in the last six months than the first six months in raising my rate. Why? Because I tailored my content on my writer website to attract my ideal client and I landed some high-profiled clients which gave me some powerful testimonials.Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Thanks so much for sharing these suggestions with us and for showcasing some great freelancers out there. I’ve been by Brent’s blog, who is awesome by the way, and I will make my way to the others you mentioned here. I get a little ansy when I think about increasing my rates. My biggest fear is that I’ll lose a client but like you say, I have to keep my value in mind. Thanks again for sharing. Have a great week! CoriReply to Corina
Hi Cori, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, increasing your rates is anxiety provoking to say the least. Moreso when it’s a current client of yours. But, I don’t mind quoting a high rate to new inquires that come my way. Since I don’t need work, anyone who contacts me is an opportunity for me to keep showing my worth and quoting a higher rate than before.Reply to Elna
Great post, Elna – as always! Raising your rates can be very tricky sometimes. I find it a little easier to raise my rates with newer clients, but I always feel a little apprehensive about raising them with current clients. I agree with what Brent said about new freelancers using sites like Upwork to help them build their portfolio and testimonial lists, but as you’ve pointed out, those kind of sites are not always a productive use of our time – especially once we become established some. Nor are they always sustainable, unless you’re lucky enough to land a few long-term gigs on an hourly basis. Many of the jobs on Upwork though (at least in my chosen niche) are one-off gigs. That’s why I’ve re-evaluated my business plan this year and have begun taking more projects privately as opposed to on sites like those. It’s definitely proving more lucrative, and, despite there being so many other freelance writers out there, it doesn’t feel like the competition is as high. Plus, my rate has tripled since August 2015! Anyway, I just wanted to say, thanks for posting this valuable information for new freelancers. I admit, I should probably take another look at my website and make a few (or a lot of) tweaks to it, but I think I’ll wait until the one year period is over that I paid for the site. Then I might switch to WordPress. It’s something I’m considering anyway!Reply to Dawn
Hi Dawn, That’s fantastic to hear! I felt the same way with Upwork. I couldn’t even land a job there and felt everytime I pitched I had to pitch a lower rate just to be considered. I hated it. But, once I went privately on my own and landed gig after gig, I knew this was for me. Happy to hear you were able to raise your rates along the way. Yes raising rates with new clients is easiest. This is what my post is about. My next post on rates will talk about raising your rates with existing clients. How do you do it and what if they walk away?Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, I love how you manage to take a confusing subject and explain it in a way a newbie like me can understand. I hate thinking about rates because I feel there’s a delicate balance, especially when there’s little to work to show for. But you make it easier to understand the rate process and the specific goals I need to set for myself so I can eventually make more money from client work. Thanks so much for the examples!Reply to Christine
Hi Christine! Thanks so much for the compliment. I’m glad you found this post useful. I know when people first start out, they don’t’ know how to set their rate and soon are frustrated with what little pay they earn. Of course, in the beginning, you’re happy to take any gig right? But, after a while you really want to work on showing your worth so that you can start raising your rate and landing those profitable clients. Can’t wait to hear all about your success with freelance writing and your business!Reply to Elna
Hi Elan, This is really an important post that you have shared. Sometimes I think about the same that how can I increase the price. however, i got some amazing tips. Thaks for sharing.Reply to Robin
Hey Robin! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad my tips can help you out with your freelancing rate. It can be a bit tricky to raise your rate and actually get paid that rate. Sure, you can quote $.25/word but if you can’t back that up or prove you are worth it, no business or entrepreneur will pay you that rate. That’s why doing these four preliminary steps can help you show your worth. Good luck!Reply to Elna
So honored to not only be mentioned in your blog post, Elna — but to be mentioned twice! Wow! My portfolio website is about due for a few updates, and I still love peeking at what other freelancers have on theirs. It isn’t a competition — we can all learn from each other. So it’s great that you linked to a few other high quality websites I can check out. As far as your point about content mills sourcing freelancers on Upwork… it’s true. But I would encourage new freelancers to take some of those jobs below their “pay grade” when they’re new. $1 is better than $0, plus it starts to build experience, connections, portfolio pieces, and so forth. Raising your rates, as you outlined in this post, takes time. It’s a process, not a snap decision. To this day, I still source jobs on Upwork. I’m a bit more selective now about who I’ll work with, but there are some really great clients on that platform, too. As always, I love your writing and I love what you teach. You’re one of those rare individuals who walks the talk, because you really have been there before. Brent PS: I’ve also referenced you in my blog post that goes live tomorrow. I’ll drop you a line when it’s available.Reply to Brent
Hi Brent, No problem and I’m glad to feature you! I really like your portfolio site! You have very strong copy and for me that’s what I like when I visit other writer websites. How do other writers convey their unique benefits they can offer to potential clients? I’m sure people who are new should try out Upwork if they just want to see what it’s all about. But personally, I didn’t have any luck and just wasted time. I felt each time I pitched that I had to pitch a lower and lower rate just so that I’d even be considered. I didn’t like that and decided to just do this on my own. Thanks for your kind words! And thanks for referencing me in your upcoming post! Can’t wait to share it 🙂Reply to Elna