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How I Raised My Rate

When I first began freelancing, I was fortunate to have, as mentors, two experienced technical writers who each had almost 20 years of experience working as freelancers in Silicon Valley.

For the first year and half I was in business, I charged $20 per hour for technical editing. My mentors thought my rate was too low and one of them raised my rate for me when he hired me as a subcontractor to edit the technical manual he was writing for Motorola.

The day he called to ask if I had time to edit a manual for him, I had just completed a contract project for one of my regular clients. I was delighted because this meant that I didn’t have to go out looking for another project.

Then he asked me the key question, “How much are you charging now?” When I told him that I was still charging $20 per hour, he replied, “No, you’re not. You’re charging $35.” Thinking he hadn’t heard me, I repeated myself.

He said he’d heard me and then said, “It’s time for you get a raise, so you’re now charging $35 per hour because you’re a good editor and that’s what you should be getting. Besides, that’s what I put in my proposal.” And that was that!

Of course, raising my rate that way was easy. And, although I felt a bit hesitant about getting a $15 per hour raise, when I saw the manual, I decided he was right. I definitely was going to earn that $35 per hour!

Thanks to my mentor, I learned to feel comfortable about raising my rates. I’ll tell you how I approach raising my rates in an upcoming post.

I’d love to hear how you’ve raised your rate. Please share your rate raising stories with us by submitting a comment below.

How to Set Rates

New writers and editors often ask me how to set rates for their consulting work. Establishing a set rate for your work is one of the most important things you will do in your business. Does that surprise you? Let me tell you why setting your rate is so important.

The rate you set for the consulting work you do, whether it’s writing or editing, determines your overall income. Your rate also sets you apart from the amateurs and ranks you with the professionals in your field, that is, if it’s a competitive rate.

When I first decided to be a freelance editor and writer, I called several people I knew who were already doing what I wanted to do. I asked them what the current rate was for freelance editors and freelance writers. To do this, I had to, essentially, overcome my aversion to talking about money and ask them what they charged. (This is something you will need to do as well, if you want to join the ranks of professional writers.)

A few (a very few) refused to answer. Obviously, they were even more loath to talk about money than I was. The other writers and editors were happy to discuss their rates with me and to share how they determined what to charge (and when to raise their rates).

After doing this research, I sat down with the data I’d gathered and weighed my experience against that of the more experienced professionals who had so generously shared their strategies and their rates with me. I set my rate and began marketing myself as a freelance editor and writer.

I encourage you to do the same. Ask other writers (or editors, if you’re an editor) what the current rates are for doing the type of work you want to do. Make sure you ask this of pros who are already doing what you want to do. Then sit down with the data you’ve collected and weigh your experience and expertise against theirs to determine your rate.

How do you set your rates? I invite you to share your approach in the comments section below.

Note:  If you’re reading this post on the home page and you want to leave a comment, please click the Title of this post and you will see the comments box at the bottom of the new page. This is a glitch I’m working to resolve in the theme I’m using. Please do leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, Write On!