I Raised My Freelancing Rates But It Didn’t Work
I’m still busier than ever.
I’ve been freelancing for about ten years now. I even wrote an article a while back, about how this came to pass and what it’s been like:
How I Became a Full-Time Freelance Copy Editor
Or, How I Get to Sleep Till I Wake Up Every Day, Have No Commute, and Am Paid to Read Books…but, I Also Don’t Know What…
My client list keeps growing — from referrals, from cold contacts (a few even from that article!). It’s awesome…but there are only so many hours in the day, and I’m working as many of them as I can.
(And writing novels, but that’s another story.)
Until recently, it was rare that I had to turn potential new clients away. I could almost always fit them in somewhere. But it’s happening more and more often these days. I’ve got a list of folks I refer work to; I fear I’m overwhelming them.
“Raise your rates,” my freelancer friends said. “You’re too affordable.”
“Raise your rates,” the internet said. “You’re charging far too little for what you do.”
“Raise your rates,” my husband said. My artist husband, who has no business sense whatsoever (and he will be the first to admit that) — even he thinks I charge too little.
All these authorities must be right…right? And it was true, that we were not exactly rich — even, in fact, struggling, no matter how hard I worked, as everything is always more expensive than you expect it will be, and there’s always another surprise $1,000 emergency-new-computer or $2,000 deck rebuild or $5,000 medical expense knocking at the door.
So…I raised my rates. I raised them modestly on my longtime, loyal clients (the ones without whom I wouldn’t even have this career) (which they all accepted without a murmur, surprise surprise).
And then I went and put what I thought was an absurd rate on my website. An aspirational rate. A ridiculous rate.
What was the first thing that happened? A new client — a small press — cold-contacted me, offering an endless stream of work at that new, absurd rate.
I am not complaining. I love my work: as I will tell anyone who asks, I get paid to read books all day. This is the best job ever.
And we’re still not rich. Not even sort of; I’m still juggling bills, setting up payment plans with the IRS (paid that one off!) and the hospital and the oral surgeon and my mother-in-law and the carpenter and the friend who built my husband’s fancy new computer from scratch.
I would love to get just a little bit ahead. Build a tiny bit of cushion, so that I could just pay a surprise attack bill, rather than triage, juggle, fret.
(Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that there will always be more surprise attack bills.)
I’ve made a new change on my website: a note saying that I am currently not open to new clients.
Will it help? Will I someday get to experience this fabled thing called a weekend?
It’s a good thing I love this work so much. I look at the giant pile of paper on my proofreading desk and I don’t think Oh, jeez, what a lot of work; I think, Look what I get to read next!
Best. Job. Ever.
But, again I say: whew.
Shannon Page writes fantasy, horror, and mystery novels from her home on Orcas Island, Washington. She edits anything, enjoys wine and food, and has opinions that sometimes turn into articles. Occasionally she even sends out a newsletter.