In early 2016, I landed my first freelance blogging client.
It was a big win for me, even though it wasn’t in my niche. The client reached out to me, after seeing some of my blog posts on Facebook.
But there was a problem. I had no idea what to charge — and the client wanted to know my rate.
I pored over everything I could find online, asked around, and finally settled on a rate of $50 per 500-750 word blog post. I sent the editor my rates, and voila — I had my first contract in place.
I jumped into writing awesome blog content for this client. But it didn’t take long to start second guessing my rate. Was I charging enough for this type of work? What were other writers charging for similar blog content? What would need to happen to raise my rates and keep this client?
If you’ve ever wondered about raising your rates, you’re not alone. I wondered what would happen if I told this blogging client I was raising my rates. Would I lose this steady source of work? Or was there a way I could propose a rate increase that would be accepted?
If I had a crystal ball to see how my client would react to a 100 percent raise increase, I probably would have asked for a raise a lot sooner. I was able to negotiate a 100-percent increase, to $100 per blog post, by following three simple rules:
1. Show up and do quality work
Initially I was nervous about producing quality content for my client. After all, I had only written a few posts for local, family-friendly blogs. Fortunately, the feedback was great on my first blog post. Positive comments continued to roll in as I submitted more articles.
With consistent assignments, I was able to easily estimate my hourly rate. Each one took about two hours, so I was making around $25 per hour. But I knew pro writers were making $50 to $100 an hour or more, and I wanted to get there.
2. Learn about the landscape
While working with my first client, I continued to research writer pay rates. Based on multiple online sources (including this blog), I was making more than folks writing for the content mills, but I was at the low end of a handful of suggested hourly rates.
I also kept networking and landed two additional writing gigs, where I negotiated project fees at $60/hour. That was a confidence booster that helped me realized I had in-demand writings skills and could command higher rates.
3. Make the request
Ten blog posts in for my first client, I decided to ask for a higher rate. My rationalization was this: I came in at a lower rate as a novice and was able to prove myself as a quality writer who completes work on time.
And if the client says no?
I was going to be OK with it, even if that meant continuing to work at the lower rate, or losing the client to someone who charges less. If asking for a raise meant I would lose the client, I could still walk away happy with some great work experience writing blog posts.
After a lot of back-and-forth about pricing, I decided to propose a rate change to my client and charge 100 percent more.
Here’s the message I sent my client:
I hope this email finds you well. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to write for [client name]. I really appreciate the chance to build my portfolio as a beginner freelancer. Writing for your team has been a great learning experience, and a lot of fun!
Now that I’ve done a good number of blog posts for [client name], I have a much better idea of the time and effort it takes to write these posts than I did at the beginning. Based on this information, I will be raising my rate for blog posts to $100 per post, after I have completed 20 total posts.
We’ve reached the halfway mark, as I’ve just completed post number 10, so I wanted to let you know in advance. I’d also like to offer you a discount of 10 percent with the purchase of 10 posts or more.
Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you again!”
My client responded promptly, and I couldn’t be happier with it:
I think this all sounds good and the advance notice is appreciated. I would definitely be interested in the specific terms regarding the 10-post purchase. Does this require an up-front payment? Is there a time-frame within which we have to request all 10 posts, etc.
We have a few writers that we use for this type of work and you are currently among our “more affordable” contributors. The described price hike would put you up there with our highest paid writers. So, before responding to this email, I checked in with [contact name] and the team that has been most involved with your blog posts to get feedback on your posts up to this point.
Their reviews of your work were very positive and felt that it warranted the price increase. They said you did a great job of taking a thoughtful approach to topics and required less editing than many of other writers.”
I asked if they could suggest any areas for improvement and the only thing they said was that I could focus on optimizing text for the provided keywords (and their synonyms) a bit better. So, you can take that for what it’s worth.
The response continued:
Anyway, we couldn’t be more pleased with what you’ve submitted so far and are happy to continue working with you at the new updated price. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. And please let me know the details of the 10-post pricing as soon as you can. Thanks for the good work.”
This is exactly the type of client I want. This client values quality work and is willing to pay for it. My initial rate was just a starting point. And even though I was afraid to ask, I’m glad I did. It was a lot easier to raise my rates by 100 percent than I thought it would be.
I still work with the first blogging client I landed and get paid well. Working through that experience as a newbie freelancer taught me a lot. I’ve been able to use those lessons learned to land more work and negotiate to get paid pro rates.
Have you negotiated a raise recently? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it.
Amy Hardison is a stay-at-home mom turned freelance writer with a penchant for competitive swing dancing. Visit her website to learn more.