As a freelance writer, no one truly has the power to give you a raise but yourself. When we work for employers, we know what to do if we want a raise in the future--respect authority figures, work hard, show up on time, be "present" with the boss so they take notice, be innovative, etc.
But how do you know you deserve a raise as a freelance writer? How do you convince yourself? I know a lot of freelance writers who are earning nowhere near their potential, not because clients wouldn't pay more for their work, but because they haven't yet realized they deserve to earn more and they haven't pursued those higher rates.
With those folks in mind, here are five reasons you may already deserve a raise as a freelance writer:
- You offer more. - If your credentials are stronger than most of your competitors, you probably deserve a raise. If your experience is more significant, you may deserve a raise. If the overall package you're offering is more in line with writers charging twice what you are than in line with your current competition, then you definitely deserve a raise.
- Demand keeps growing. - It's basic supply and demand. You need to find a happy balance. If there's significantly more demand for your services at your current rates than you can complete (without having to take on extra work hours beyond a full-time schedule), then that balance is out of whack and in your favor. It means clients are seeing more value in your work than you are, and you're overdue for a raise. Raise your rates until the demand and supply of time are closer to even (while keeping demand slightly on the high side for the luxury of being able to choose the best gigs).
- You do more than you think. - The truth is that most freelance writers aren't just selling words on a page. They're selling their clients authority status and a reputation boost in their area of expertise. They're selling an asset that attracts a regular reader base for those clients. They're selling sales through conversions from the copy they write. While you're ultimately selling your time, the benefits to buyers amount to so much more. Are you being paid what those end results are worth? If not, you probably deserve a raise. Give yourself one.
- Your cost of living increases. - Just like any employee out there, your income needs to adapt to cost of living increases. You would expect it from an employer over the years. Guess what. You're that employer now. Take care of yourself!
- You're a bloody miracle worker. - There's so much more to being a writer than writing, even beyond the added benefits you bring to clients. Think about the added roles you take on! You're not just a writer. At times you're also a researcher, marketer, editor, salesperson, friend, confidant, consultant, yes man, voice of reason, critic, coddler, and even scapegoat. You can amazingly pull an article out of thin air when a client wants it, well, yesterday. Your magical words can sell things that no one else has been able to sell. Your writing can make a customer (or client themselves) say "Aha!" as they finally understand a difficult new concept. Your work has a certain je ne sais quoi that builds natural trust and respect from your client's audience. Those roles vary with each client, but they each take time (and some can really beat you down). Are you being paid enough to be a miracle worker today? If not, it might be time for a raise.
Take some time to think about everything you do and everything you offer (especially compared to your direct competition - and remember that lower-rate writers are not your competition, so don't keep low rates just because you feel like you have to in order to compete with them!).
Are you being paid what you're really worth?
If you're like a lot of writers I know, the answer is "no!" So take some time to think about what kind of raise you might deserve, and more importantly how you're going to get it (something we'll talk more about in a future post).