Raising your rates can be really scary. If you’re anything like I was in the early days of my practice, you’ll find yourself hesitant to increase your rates in any way. I panicked at the thought of pricing myself out of work, getting called less and starving to death over a dollar. Had I realized in the beginning that raising my rates was more of a single that I, as a professional knew what I was doing… I would have done it far sooner. My first rate increase came a year and a half into my practice, I had missed the annual turn but just a few short months.
Reconsidering the fear
Wait until you land a private client at a much higher rate. You’ll realize that you are absolutely worth the rates you’re billing and more. You’ll also see just how heavy the contract, billing and payment collection can be. It might put your agencies overhead into perspective, giving you a little bit more grace to their margins when you realize how much time and effort it’s saving you. Best case scenario, you’ve landed a little more stability allowing you to be slightly less reliant on agency work.
Examining how your rates are reflected in the field
Sure, you’re seeing the positive results of it, but do agencies know? How is your practice seen in the community? Are you showing up to events and supporting the non-profits that serve our clients? Are you involved in any advocacy for the community or our industry? It’s much easier to accept a rate increase from someone who is well known in the community and involved in enough that they’re getting options for direct work than it is to raise the rates of a 9-5er who only signs on the clock. Remember that your rate is a direct reflection of how much access an agency has to you when you’re diversifying your portfolio.
Higher rates are a signifier of quality, mostly.
In a field where just about anyone can clap together a rate sheet and charge whatever they feel like… you should absolutely put together some information that says “I’m worth this cause look at the hard work I’ve put in”
Whether that’s a breakdown of education (what I see most often) or notable work and returning clients is entirely up to you. The important part as with much of your practice is that you can back it up and justify the overall rate.
Clients want to work with the best and they’re often quite happy to pay for it
In my own practice, I’ve worked with lawyers on thrilling cases they are passionate about arguing to the best of their ability. They worked tirelessly getting their briefs in order and were waiting for a few final interviews before moving on to trial. They certainly were not interested in chancing all that hard work on a misinterpretation from an amateur just to save a couple bucks.
But what if your client isn’t a hotshot trial lawyer? Consider their investment in the client? Are they working with a new orthodontics patient they will be seeing for a year and don’t want to extend treatment or exacerbate an issue?
Are they hiring a new accounting administrator and want to ensure they start their first day ready for the position?
Being able to represent yourself as a professional that will ease their stress, provide an incredible product and follow up where needed has very real value. You may be surprised at just how much higher your clients would evaluate the rate.
An increase is a higher investment in you and your work
It increases the stakes. If you’re charging a higher premium for the product, you’re going to deliver stronger every time. You now have to justify that you are worth that number in the total line on your invoice. It will elevate your attitude, your autonomy and certainly the excitement you feel in going the extra mile.
Working 60 hours a week to save for retirement sounds like a moot point when you consider the years you’re shaving off your very existence. By increasing your rate in kind with the other increases you experience as an adult, you can begin to back off on the hours a bit. Working less allows you to focus on more on things like prepping for work, your actual life outside of the profession and the passions that make you an interesting and whole person.
Assessing your own value
Consider that in a corporate job – the more you’ve worked somewhere, the more value you provide to the company. If you’re concerned about an agency and their pushback, consider that their rates increase annually (usually). You’re also building very real rapport and dependability with the organization. When you represent them well, you’re providing more value which in time makes it harder to find another you. It’s much easier to accept a rate increase from a top performer than it is to risk losing them.
Being proactive in invoicing, choosing which hills to die on and taking the jobs that are harder to fill brings that value up significantly. If you’re looking to fast track the process of falling higher on their list, consider your relationship with them and how you might improve it.
Thinking about raising your rates only takes up time and doesn’t serve you enough to create an actionable change. If anything, focusing on the fear in raising your rates only serves as a way to kick the can further down the road. You didn’t read this entire article to spin your tires, you came for an affirmation that you can in fact take action.