Money can be a touchy subject. I’m lucky to have a great group of freelance design friends that I can regularly run ideas past. We’ve each taken turns asking for advice on how to price jobs, increase our rates, and cheering each other on after sending those emails. It’s important to talk about “work for exposure” or “free work” but those deserve their own posts.
Client relationships can start so organically. Maybe they saw something you created online, and want to share it on their own page. Or maybe they start commenting on your social accounts. That can quickly turn into commissioned work, branding, web design, photography, whatever! That’s how I met one of my clients, and I’ve been working consistently with them for over three years, and of course, a lot has changed.
When we first met, I had just started hand lettering. I was working as a full time Art Director, and really wanted to try making my own type. My client found something I created, shared it, and asked if I could create another one. UM. YES! The feeling was mutual, we believed in each other’s work, and I happily made a few similar hand lettered pieces for her social accounts. I was honest that I was just starting with my lettering practice, and this gave me an opportunity to experiment, gauge interest, and push myself. I did this at no cost – I saw this as a stepping stone, and was so thrilled someone wanted to share my work. I was working full time, doing freelance design on the side (okay fine, all the time) and lettering wasn’t officially part of my designer tool box, so for me, it was a blast. As my relationship with this client grew, we established an hourly rate, and continued to work on projects together. Done and done! Each year since, I’ve increased my prices, and there were no questions asked.
I put off sending that “hey, i’m doubling what i’m charging you” email for a long time. I asked a friend how to phrase it, and they gave me some great insight. I wrote my client about how I really love working with them. I told them it was that time of the year again, and while my current rates are $X, I’d love to continue working with them at a discounted rate of $Y. Since we’ve got a regular relationship, and we’ve been working together for a long time, I felt comfortable offering a discounted rate, but I was also asking for double what I was charging before. I had let this email sit for too long, and I was finally ready. I even mentioned in my email that if this didn’t work with their current budget, I’d be happy to list a few names that they could contact. And I meant it! I had a mental list prepared, people I trust, people I knew would understand the style we had established together, and people who I thought deserved an amazing client. I care about my client, and I want to make sure they’re in good hands, and that both of us get the most out of our time together.
You probably want to know my clients response right? “Perfect, thanks – love working with you too!”. As in – no questions asked. You’re raising your rates? Cool, thanks for letting me know! I re-read the email a few times, to make sure they hadn’t said “cool, k bye!” (hello inner critic). I felt really good about my decision to send the email, and continue working at a discounted rate.
Have you recently increased your rates? Are you struggling with it now? If you have any advice or questions for raising your rates, feel free to share them in the comments! It’s important to find your comfort zone, and get what you deserve!