Online workers usually don’t receive an automatic raise from clients. But this doesn’t mean that we aren’t entitled to one from time to time. Raising your rates is one of the many ways you can go a step further on your personal career ladder. But with people throwing around the words “downturn” and “layoffs”, is this really possible?
I believe it is, and here are seven simple things we can do to make it happen:
Add new skills and credentials. Adding more skills, projects, and credentials to your resume, usually means that you’ve gained more experience and will have more to offer your clients. When this happens, it only makes sense to raise your rates because of the new and improved contributions you’ll be making.
Here are some simple ways you can lengthen your list of credentials:
- get additional certification,
- take a course in a relevant field,
- win an award,
- and participate in high-profile projects.
Don’t forget to highlight your additional credentials by posting about them in your blog, or by editing both your resume and your social networking profiles.
Qualify clients. Another way to earn more money this year is to qualify your new clients in such a way that you’ll only be working for those who understand the value of your work and are willing to pay a good price for it. Do you advertise in places where these types of clients are likely to find you?
Upsell. It’s also important to ask yourself what extra products and services you can offer to your existing clients. This works best if you bundle related services together. For example, if one of my clients hired me to write an ebook, I’d also ask them if they want me to write the sales letter and the press release that goes with the ebook. Usually, clients wouldn’t say no to something like that, unless they’ve already hired someone else before you made your offer.
Lower business expenses. How does this affect your earning power? Well, if you lower your regular business expenses, then you can set aside more money for yourself. You can look at how much you pay for web apps, rent for office space (if applicable), as well as expected equipment purchases for 2009.
Note that lowering business expenses isn’t just about indiscriminately crossing off these items. It’s not about cutting costs per se, but about making sure that your costs have a good ROI (return of investment) attached to them.
Network. When there are evident connections between you and a prominent person in your potential client’s industry, this provides a more compelling reason to hire you. If you know the mentors, “gurus”, and moguls of a certain industry, then why not target the people who are following their steps? While it doesn’t strictly follow that you work for these giants just because you know them, it does make a good impression that will be more lasting than the resume of someone they’ve never heard of before.
Beware of blatant name-dropping, though. You can hint at your strong connections via social networks and your blog, but don’t write a roll call of famous entrepreneurs in your cover letters. Doing this doesn’t carry the same level of credibility.
Look more expensive. Although I’m not a big fan of judging people by their image, I know from experience that clients definitely judge you based on the way you package yourself. Why? Because that’s the first thing they see. To them a professional look equals professionalism (even if this isn’t always the case). Make sure that your website, business cards, online profiles, and other marketing tools look professionally done. That way, it seems much easier for clients to justify your competitive rates, since they can see that your personal brand is polished.
Provide case studies. In a previous post here at WWD, Darrell Etherington talked about the importance of case studies to freelancers. A case study proves to potential clients that you can deliver the results you promise. This proof gives you the credibility and trustworthiness that merits even the slightest addition to your fees. Why? Because clients already have some guarantee that you’ll provide them with the solutions they need. They would gladly pay a small premium on the safer bet rather than another freelancer who doesn’t have similar proof to show.
While raising your rates comes with some extra work, the additional effort is always worth it. Apart from justifying better rates for yourself, clients will also feel secure knowing that you’re worth every penny they pay.
Do you plan to raise your rates in 2009? How are you planning to do it?