After 6 years of evolving in the freelancing environment, I understood that the freelancers who sell the most expensive are not the best technically (nor those who have the most experience). It may seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen freelancers who are very skilled in their field become paralyzed when it comes to selling themselves and spend their time selling off their prices…
Conversely, I have seen freelancers starting out, position themselves well on the market and succeed in selling assignments at high prices (with a daily rate of more than €500 in their first year of activity).
The question of freelance rates is central. The freelancer who knows how to set a fair price for his services is a freelancer who will:
- To flourish in one’s activity and to feel valued by one’s customers;
- To be able to anticipate possible downsides and take vacations when needed;
- Have the necessary cash to develop your business and imagine new projects.
In this article, I share 5 strategies to put in place, regardless of your level of experience and skills, to increase your rates. I will focus my argument on freelancers in copywriting / copywriting, but my advice will be valid regardless of your field.
Let’s go !
Strategy n°1: Work on your credibility and your perceived value
The first project to start to increase your rates is that of your credibility.
A mission is a trust transaction: the customer who calls on your services trusts you to help him solve his problem (improve conversions, increase traffic, etc.).
What you have to understand is that by calling on you, the customer is going to place a bet. Before starting the mission, he cannot know if it will work.
In choosing the right freelancer, he will therefore select the one that sends him the best credibility signals.
What does this mean for you as a freelancer? How to return these good signals of credibility?
If a client is looking for a Copywriter, he will therefore try to see which freelancer seems to him to be the best in this discipline. Concretely, once you have established contact with him, he will type your name on Google and observe the results.
At this time, you will score points and increase your credibility if this client finds texts that you have written and that they consider to be of quality.
Logic. He is about to call on you for a mission, he needs to be reassured and to judge your work in advance. The more he will consider that your work is of high quality, the more he will be likely to accept a high price.
The first strategy to increase your rates is therefore to write the type of content that your clients are likely to request from you as part of an assignment.
This can be done in several ways:
- If you are editors, you can create a blog and publish very good articles centered on your theme;
- If you are a copywriter specializing in email sequences, you can write a fictional email sequence for a company in your industry. And then share this sequence on your site;
- If you’re a LinkedIn Ghostwriter, you can post great posts on your own profile on a regular basis.
You get the idea.
The principle is to publish excellent content, designed to please your customers and to increase your level of credibility in your field.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, imagine the content he would like to read and write it directly.
Block yourself one day a week for this exercise, repeat it over time and you will see your rate gradually increase.
Strategy #2: Find Better Customers
This strategy may seem silly, but believe me, it is not.
I see too many freelancers stubbornly targeting, prospecting and working with companies that don’t have the budget to pay them well.
Because yes, it’s a fact, some companies don’t have a budget. Others have the budget, but don’t see the point of creating content or improving their copywriting. Still others understand the interest of writing, but do not want to invest and exploit paid freelancers with slingshots.
If you’re targeting these types of companies (and there are plenty of them), your efforts to increase your rates are doomed.
But the good news is that there are plenty of customers out there, too, who understand your value, value your skills, and are willing to pay you a good rate.
The other good news is that to build a stable freelance business, you don’t need 50 clients. You only need 2 or 3 clients per month, who pay you fairly.
So if you feel that a company is not convinced by your services and does not have the budget, do not insist. Try to understand in which category it can fall (very small business, beginner solopreneur, local artisans, SME not at all digital, etc.) and stay away from it.
Conversely, try to understand which categories have budget and pay their freelancers well.
From experience, I can tell you that growing companies, especially those that raise funds, fall exactly into this good category. They are digital, have budget, understand your value and are used to working with freelancers.
There are many other types of companies like this, it depends on the sectors and it is up to you to find them.
But keep in mind that certain types of customers will not be able to pay you well. It’s not serious ; they just don’t have to be your customers.
Strategy n°3: Make case studies of good practices
This strategy extends the first one I presented.
The idea is to identify, in your theme, the companies that use and execute a strategy that seems relevant to you. Next, you’ll create a case study to unpack how it works.
This content will allow you to:
- Show your skills, your understanding of the field and strengthen your credibility;
- Make your prospect want to use a similar strategy (since it’s a hit for his competitor!)
- And therefore, make him want to call on you at an attractive price.
By reading your case study, your prospects will think that you have perfectly understood the problems of the sector. And, by association, they’ll think you’re the right person to solve them.
Strategy n°4: Stand out in the way you prospect
There are many myths surrounding prospecting.
Here is a small selection of the most common misconceptions:
- Believing that it is necessarily a boring activity (false: it can be intellectually fascinating to convince a prospect, especially for a copywriter)
- Believing that you have to be a nag and aim for volume (false: a freelancer only needs 2 or 3 clients per month)
- Believing that prospecting is the solution to be activated in an emergency, when “it’s shit” (false: a good freelancer anchors a prospecting routine in his weeks and constantly tries to start new discussions).
I am personally appalled to see that the majority of freelancers don’t even try to prospect. They prefer to struggle while waiting for a mission that would fall from the sky.
Again, if you’re freelancing; you don’t need 1,000 customers. You only need two or three a month that pays you well. And to win them, there is nothing more effective than highly targeted prospecting, with very personalized messages.
Never forget that your prospects have problems to solve and that you are there to bring them a solution!
And I can guarantee you that many, many companies are struggling to find good content / writing / copywriting freelancers.
With a well-written and well-targeted email, I can guarantee that your prospecting can bring you very big results.
If you need inspiration for writing your prospecting emails, I invite you to watch this video in which I prospect for a company by filming my screen:
However, there is a big downside to prospecting: the time it takes to identify relevant and interesting prospects.
This is precisely why I created a private newsletter called Pygmalion.
At the rate of once a month, I send subscribers 10 analyzes of growing French startups, who will have needs and budget to hire content marketing freelancers (or writing, copywriting, etc.).
- I save subscribers dozens of hours of research on the most time-consuming part of prospecting: finding and qualifying their prospects;
- They only canvass companies that interest them and that fall within their circle of competence (I target various sectors and needs)
- The selected companies have just raised funds and have the means to pay their freelancers the rate they deserve.
The Strongest ? If subscribers don’t find a well-paid job via the newsletter, I reimburse them!
If you are interested, go to this page to discover Pygmalion, The gold mine for freelancers who build a stable and sustainable activity.
Strategy #5: Increase by 10% with each new mission
Finally, I would like to address an important point in the definition of a price: the emotional aspect.
Selling your services at a high price is anything but natural. This often raises doubts and questions about his legitimacy as a freelancer. “What ?! €500 a day? But no one gets paid that much!”
Rather than wanting to increase your prices all at once (by doubling or tripling them), I suggest that you increase them gradually.
A good way to do this is to increase your daily rate by 10% with each new mission.
- This is a sufficiently reasonable increase not to raise doubts about your own legitimacy;
- It stays within your usual price range, you don’t feel like a drastic change (if you go from 200 to 220, that’s fine);
- But it’s still an evolution that goes in the right direction and after 4-5 successive increases of 10%, it will start to become very interesting for you!
Maintain constant evolution
So here are my 5 tips to increase your rates as a Freelance Copywriter/Editor. You have seen that they can be adapted to any other profession (dev, designer, etc.).
Keep in mind that your prospects are looking to solve their problems and are willing to pay a high price for a quality solution!
About the Author
Valentin Decker is the founder of Sauce Writing, an online school for accelerating your career through writing. He also created Pygmalion.club to help freelance writers land better assignments.