Hot Tip for Writers Who Want to Raise Rates

Jaime L. Brockway
4 min readJan 3, 2024

The tool I use to make smart, informed rate increases

Hey, freelance writers. It’s not too late to raise your rates for 2024. Before you send that email to your clients notifying them of changes, do this first:

Add data about past projects to your email. Data will make your clients clear on the benefits they’ve gotten from you and therefore happy that they’ve invested in you—and eager to keep the collaboration going.

To get the data you need …

Track every piece of content for every client.

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Easy Tracking

Tracking is not time-consuming, especially if you do it from the get-go. (I once made a tracker after a year of working with a client and scoured every invoice between us to record the data.)

I use a simple Google Sheet, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

For every blog post I write for a Wall Street Journal–bestselling author, I note:

➡ the date
➡ was the idea mine or the client’s?
➡ time spent writing
➡ time spent revising
➡ was it published? (if not, why not)
➡ how did it perform?

**If you don’t have access to performance metrics, get creative! I don’t have access to metrics for this client, but I do note which blog posts make the author’s Top Articles webpage, for example.**

This data will help you understand your value and see smart ways to increase your rates or change your packages.

I’ve used my tracker to support switching from an hourly rate to flat fee, increasing rates, and changing offers.

Recently I increased my flat fee 43% by including 90 minutes of revisions compared to 30 minutes previously.

My tracker showed that in 2+ years with this client, only a handful of blog posts needed 90+ minutes of revisions. The majority of blog posts needed 30 minutes or less of revisions, if any. Less than 20% needed between 30 and 90 minutes of revisions.

So I could increase my flat fee while offering the client a great benefit I knew they wouldn’t often need. Which means I earn more without always working more.

Prepare to Negotiate

Did the author push back on the new fee? They did. The rate increase was, after all, significant.

But here’s another piece of freelance wisdom I’m learning to accept, albeit nervously: Clients challenging your rates is good. You should aim to reach their budget limits and get pushback.

When I had proposed a rate increase to the author a year prior, the rate wasn’t as high as I wanted it to be. I was scared to ask for too much. Yet the author accepted it without question, and I spent the rest of the year kicking myself for not asking for more.

This has been a sad pattern throughout my six-year freelance career.

Now I’m trying to get more comfortable with charging uncomfortably high. I feel more comfortable doing so when I have the data to show my work is worth that rate.

I want my rate increases to invite negotiation, even though I don’t enjoy it.

Negotiation is not my strong suit, and my clients are very smart and successful. Negotiating with them is intimidating.

When the author pushed back on my rate increase recently, they asked me to reiterate why the increase was so high. We discussed variations to what was included in the flat fee:

  • blog post, plus 90 minutes of free revisions
  • blog post, plus 30 minutes of free revisions, plus social media posts for each blog post (which would save the author the cost of paying someone else to do it)

Here, too, the tracker came in handy. I used it to advocate for the offering that would work best for both of us. I showed the author the value they would get from 90 minutes of revisions and, alternatively, the value from including social media posts.

Notably, I used the tracker to reject a variation that didn’t work for me. The author proposed using the 90 minutes to do the revisions and allocating any leftover time for social media. But my tracker showed that drafting a blog post sometimes takes me longer than expected and cuts into the time for revisions. It didn’t make sense to pack too much into a flat fee.

When I showed the client the data, they understood.

Ultimately, the author settled on the original offer I had made and even asked me to do a trial period of writing social media posts, paid by the hour.

The negotiations were a journey, but worth it.

**I’m sure there are much fancier trackers out there, but if you’re in Google Suite all day as I am, then feel free to copy the tracker I use.**

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Jaime L. Brockway

Copy editor with 10 years’ experience. Former National Copy Chief of Time Out North America. Semicolon lover, despite what Kurt Vonnegut said.