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How to negotiate a pay raise as a freelance writer

As a freelance writer, I know firsthand that negotiating a pay raise can be challenging. But it's a crucial part of building a successful freelance writing career.


So, how do you ask for a pay raise? What are the right prices? Will your client agree? How to give yourself the best chance of actually getting a raise? This blog lists out a few pointers to help you get the best pay for your work.

Let’s get started.


Know Your Worth

The first step in negotiating a pay raise is knowing your worth. When I first started out, I made the mistake of underselling myself because I didn't realize how much my skills and experience were worth. I just wanted more clients. So, I agreed to all sorts of ridiculously low rates. I just didn’t know how much my work was worth.


My quest to have more clients was the most important to me. The result was frequent burnout and not enough pay.


Avoid the mistake that I made. Do some research.


The pay for writing isn’t hard to find. Join a few groups on LinkedIn, Twitter, and a few forums and you’ll soon know what a good rate for your work is.


It's also important to consider your own experience and expertise. If you have a lot of experience in a particular niche or have developed a specialized skill set, you may be able to charge more than other writers who are just starting out.


Expertise is a huge pay booster. So, make sure that you’re writing on topics that you thoroughly understand. The advantage is, you’ll be able to get great pay because you’re worth it.


Knowing your worth is key to feeling confident when negotiating a pay raise.


Have a plan!

Once you know your worth, it's time to make a plan for how to negotiate a pay raise. I've found that having a plan helps me feel more confident and prepared when I approach a client with a proposal.


Start by identifying what you want to achieve from the negotiation.


Do you want a higher hourly rate? A flat fee for a particular project? A long-term retainer agreement? Take some time to think and figure it out. Once you know what you want, it's time to put together a proposal.


What’s a proposal?

A proposal need not be as formal as it sounds. It could be a simple email, a call, or even a message, really. It’s whatever you want it to be.


In my experience, a good proposal should include a clear outline of the work you'll be doing, the timeframe for completing the work, and the fee you're requesting.


Be sure to include a compelling argument for why you deserve a pay raise, based on your skills, experience, and track record of delivering high-quality work.

Practice/edit your pitch

If you’re going to be on a call when you propose a pay hike, practice what you’re going to say. Prepare answers for a few scenarios, too. It’ll prepare you better and more importantly, it’ll make you feel confident.


For example, I like to practice delivering my proposal out loud, usually with a friend. This helps me refine my pitch and check if my message is clear and compelling. The other advantage of practising your pitch out loud is that you’ll get an idea of what to anticipate.


What might a client say to the arguments that you’ve made? Where might the pain points lie? What can you do to mitigate excessive friction? These are things that you need to anticipate.


If you don’t have anything to say when the client raises any objections, there’s no real point in making a pitch. You might as well have not done it.


If you’re asking for a pay hike via email or a message, don’t send it as soon as you’re done typing it. Give it a bit of time. Come back to it in a few hours. Think of how you can refine your pitch, how you can make it more compelling, and how you can increase your chances of getting better pay. Actually, sleep on it. Come back to it the next day and refine your pitch again. I bet you’ll have new and better ideas.


Choose the Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to negotiating a pay raise. If your client is telling you how their IT costs have suddenly increased, you might not want to bring up your pay raise issue, then.


Also, never ever discuss pay raises in the middle of a project. If you’ve committed to doing some work at a certain price, just do it.


Not only will you not get your pay raise if you ask for it in the middle of a project, but you will most probably not even get a repeat gig. It’s just bad practice. Once you agree to some terms, stick to those terms.


Instead, choose a time when your client is most receptive to discussing finances.


For example, if you've just completed a particularly successful project for your client, this could be a good time to approach them with your proposal.


Alternatively, if your client is planning a new project that will require your services, this could be an opportunity to negotiate a higher rate.


Negotiation is about compromise

If you are not willing to give an inch, don’t expect a mile. If you have a dream figure, be prepared to settle for a little less than that. While this may not sound ideal, the fact is you’re a one-person business.


The first thing any businessman worth her salt will tell you is that customer retention is far cheaper than customer acquisition. So, retaining that client is actually better in the long term.


With that in mind, understand that negotiating a pay raise is all about finding a solution that works for both you and your client. This means being prepared to compromise if necessary.


For example, if your client is unable to meet your fee request, you may be able to negotiate a compromise by offering to reduce your rate in exchange for a longer-term agreement or more regular work. Similarly, you may be able to negotiate a higher rate by offering to take on additional responsibilities or deliverables.


Check to see if your client is happy

Once you've negotiated a pay raise with your client, follow up with them to ensure that the agreed-upon terms are being met. This means checking in regularly with your client to make sure you're delivering high-quality work and that they're satisfied with your services.


If there are any issues or concerns, address them as soon as possible to avoid any misunderstandings or complications down the line.


Following up also helps to reinforce the value you bring to your client's business. By maintaining regular communication and delivering consistent, high-quality work, you're demonstrating your commitment to your client's success and building a stronger relationship.


Most people want to work with reasonable people. If your client is paying more, accommodate their needs, as long as they’re reasonable.


If there’s only one thing you take away from this blog, let it be this:


The best way to make great money as a freelance writer is to build great working relationships with your clients. Nothing, absolutely nothing will come close to that in helping you build your career.


Conclusion

Negotiating a pay raise as a freelance writer can seem challenging. You may not be comfortable asking for a pay raise, you may not think you deserve it, you may feel the client simply won’t accommodate you, or you may even feel that it’s simply not going to work.


But in the long run, you have to increase your rates. You have to grow your revenue, and it’s actually not as challenging as it may seem.


By knowing your worth, making a plan, practising your pitch, choosing the right time, being prepared to compromise, and following up, you can increase your chances tremendously.


It’s not just possible, but it’s the norm.


So, go ahead and ask for that pay raise and do it confidently!



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