How To Dramatically Increase Your Rate Per Hour

What if you could double or even triple your earnings by working the same hours you’re working right now?

You’d do it without hesitation.

It sounds great. But maybe you have an idea that making those kinds of leaps in your business has to be a long, gradual process.

The slow and steady route works well for a lot of people…

But it doesn’t have to be that way for you.

If you make the right moves, you can increase your earning potential dramatically within the next few weeks.

You don’t need a blog the size of Lifehacker or Copyblogger.

You don’t need a best-selling book.

The secret?

Just a little willingness to change your approach. To change the way you engage with clients and your workday.

Want to see how?

Keep reading…

Create Processes to Work More Efficiently

This might sound counter-intuitive, but bear with me:

Often, the first step in making yourself much more efficient (and increasing your earning potential) is investing some time up front to shore up your business processes.

Time is the most valuable commodity for busy freelancers. There are only so many hours in a day. You’d like to spend at least a few of them sleeping or hanging out with your family and friends.

To earn more, you need to get more work done in the same amount of hours. That’s where better business processes come in.

Every project is different. But there are plenty of steps – things like submitting proposals and billing – common to every project you take on. These repeat aspects of business are ripe to turn into processes.

Some of these will depend on your niche and the market you serve. Web designers might systematize their business using design templates, for instance, but that wouldn’t apply to a marketing consultant.

Other processes are more universal. No matter your niche, addressing these will free up a lot of time you could spend working instead of on administrative tasks.

Here are just a few areas you can systematize and improve:

  • Accounting: accounting can be a freelancer’s worst nightmare… and a huge time suck if you get behind. Fortunately, there are a ton of tools available (check out Wave, it’s free!) to help you handle this as efficiently as possible.
  • Invoicing: don’t waste another minute wondering if you billed Bob for that project you finished last month or if Monica already paid you or not. Invest in an invoice tool (you can also use a system like PayPal to create templates) that helps you send and track invoices easily. It’s worth the peace of mind.
  • Productivity/Scheduling: how are you managing yourself? From simple to-do lists to complicated time-tracking systems, there are thousands of ways to do this. Experiment with different methods until you find ones that work best for you.
  • Proposals: spending hours churning out time-consuming but ineffective proposals is the last thing you want to do. Take some time to find out what makes proposals compelling and incorporate those key elements. You can create a template to work from or use professional proposal software to make sure you’re saving time – and landing as many clients as possible.
  • Taxes: taxes are another productivity “black hole.” A lot of accounting tools can help you knock this out pretty easily. If you don’t know where to start, check out this list of 23 tools.

Watch out When Quoting Hourly Rates

Does it matter to you how long it takes for Apple to make an iPhone?

Not at all.

You’re much more interested in the sleek design, features, and whether it can fit in your pocket. You’re willing to pay for it because of what it can do for you – not the number of hours it spent in a factory.

Your clients are the same way.

In the freelance world, one of the biggest “hot buttons” is how you should frame your prices. People debate hourly rates versus fixed project rates like politicians on different sides of the aisle. Both ways have their pros and cons

But if you’re quoting hourly rates, you might be inadvertently limiting your earning potential.

Why?

Because once a client knows what that hourly rate is (and your rate is high), they’re much more likely to start micromanaging you to death. They’ll push you to complete projects in less than you would’ve spent otherwise. You sacrifice quality and end up getting penalized – earning less money – for being more efficient with your time.

All of this micromanaging just makes you more stressed out. And you actually spend more time on the phone and fielding client emails instead of doing what makes you money: working.

Quoting flat project fees keeps clients from interfering because they already know what they’re investing financially up front. It also helps you get them focused on what’s most important – the value you create – instead of the time you spend creating it. This frames your services as a solution to a problem instead of a commodity clients can get anywhere else.

Approach Potential Clients with Value Instead of Just a Price Tag

You only have so many hours to work each day. Making the most of them means focusing on projects where clients are willing to pay higher rates.

But how do you land these high-rate gigs?

Odds are you aren’t the only service provider in the running.

Quality clients are doing their homework. They’re shopping around, taking advantage of all the information available to make sure they’re choosing the best expert to help them.

If you’re charging higher prices for work others are willing to do for less money (and this will almost always be the case), these clients will overlook you…

Unless you have a way to stand out from everyone else.

How can you do that?

A lot comes down to the approach. You already have the expertise and unique skills. The only thing that might be standing between you and higher-paying projects: a failure to position your services and present them in a compelling way.

Turning that around starts by: 1) figuring out all the ways you could offer a client value, and 2) sharing those early on.

For example, instead of telling a client you could write them a great post for $200 (a common freelance writer mistake), you could tell them exactly what you’d do to make that post a success.

You could tell them:

  • I’ll interview you to know more about your product
  • I’ll interview your best clients to know what exactly to write about
  • I’ll research your competitors and find weakness you can use to your advantage
  • I’ll write a 1000-word guide in an engaging way that your audience will love to read
  • I’ll write an attractive headline that gets you more traffic
  • I’ll edit the guide until you’re thrilled with it.

Wouldn’t the thought of getting all that value convince more clients to choose you instead of someone else – even if they cost less?

Absolutely.

So the next time you quote potential clients a rate, break down all the value you’re willing to offer – value clients can’t find anywhere else. This technique alone is enough to get you double what you’re earning right now.

Go Beyond Online Job Boards and Your Blog

When you post consistently and promote your content well, your blog will generate new business. But unless you’re using a lead generation service (like Workshop), inbound marketing is unpredictable. You never know when the that next lead will come in, which can be scary stuff if you’re strapped for cash.

Job boards are always an option, but they can be unreliable. Sure, there are gem projects here and there. But there are tons of people – sometimes hundreds – applying for every single position. With such high demand, it’s hard to compete with service providers willing to undercut your prices by 50% or more.

Where else can you turn when you need to drum up new business?

You can go beyond job boards and reach out to medium and larger companies to pitch your services directly. Once you have a clear idea of the market you want to serve, you can tailor your outreach to focus only on good fits.

There’s a lot less competition than on cutthroat job boards. And you don’t have anything to lose other than a few minutes sending an email. The worst thing someone can do is say “no.”

Not every business you pitch will be interested. But if you can just land one out of every 20 pitches – totally doable if you’re targeting your outreach – you can seriously increase your long-term earnings by working with these larger companies.

You don’t want to send out form emails for this, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time either. It only takes 30 minutes or an hour to come up with a good “outreach template.” Then you can spend a few minutes customizing this template for each business you pitch to. Doing just one or two of these a day adds up over time.

Instead of waiting for inbound leads or competing with bargain-bin pricing on job boards, skip the line. Do what your competitors are unwilling to do: reach out to successful companies directly. These clients are also the people who are willing to pay higher rates without micromanaging you.

It’s Time to Earn More

You only have so many hours to work with.

Doubling or tripling your earnings doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. It doesn’t have to be years away either.

You can start boosting your earnings now if you can work more efficiently and keep clients from undervaluing you.

The tips above help you tackle both of those challenges head on.

Apply them, and you’ll earn more money from working the same hours you do now. Money you could save, use for a much-needed vacation, or help secure your family’s future.

You just need to take action.

Start today!

*Editor’s Note: Here, we learn two important lessons-how to increase your average rate-per-hour with efficiency, and how to keep yourself from being devalued.

These are strategies you should be using to bulk up your bottom line in the short haul, and over the long term.

But, one of the greatest ways to give yourself a raise is by bringing in new client projects. You can’t quote rates per project unless you’re constantly proposing projects, and quoting fees.

We get it, and we’re going to make your job a lot easier (and efficient) by offering you our 14 day free trial offer! 

About Ahmed Safwan


By night, Ahmed Safwan is busy “figuring out how to make blogging simpler, not easier” over at Smart Marketing Boost. By day, he studies to be a dentist. Don’t leave without snagging your free videos on the 3 types of blogs posts that goes viral and the only promotion strategy you need to follow to make sure that your next post gets you more clients.

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Val Yupryce

I’ve seen tons of articles like this, and am not against the idea necessarily, but they never really tell you how to navigate this ‘value pricing’ conversation with concrete examples… “charge a flat rate” for a web site — sounds like a recipe for getting micromanaged to death. Design can be very subjective, so when does the project end in that case if there’s just a flat fee and no limitation on time? Can you post some verbiage for a written agreement to this effect?

In the blog post-writing scenario above, ok, to say it will cost the client $200 you say is a “mistake”. Great, I might be able to get with that. But the client is sure to ask how much it costs, so how, in your opinion, does the cost part of the conversation go from that point? How much should it cost based on value and how do you arrive at that number?

Ruben

@Val – I hear what you’re saying and might be able to give a bit of insight into how these conversations can work. I’ve both done projects like this, and have hired people that charge this way.

The micromanaging problem you’ve mentioned doesn’t happen because of the way you’re charging, it’s more about the expectations you’ve set upfront and the type of clients you’re working with. Meaning, if they’re going to try to micromanage, they’ll do it regardless of how you’re charging them.

The thing to watch out for with flat rate value pricing has more to do with undercharging and setting expectations.

In your scenario you ask how this might work with design. I’ve hired over 20 designers for different projects in the last few years and most designers I’ve worked with have charged a flat rate. There’s never a focus on time, other than saying something like, “We can deliver this website/app with these pages/screens/etc for $X. We/I like to ensure clients love the work by getting feedback at each stage and including two revisions for free. ”

It’s not the most amazing way to say it, but it’s one of the more common ways. to improve on that, I’d make sure to tie it to their actual needs and goals (the reason why they’re hiring you). So even just including a few keywords, like, “We can deliver a website/app that will help increase your online orders with these pages/screens/etc for $X….etc.” <- If they're looking to increase online orders, in this example. You get the idea. The main thing is to make sure you feel comfortable with your ability to estimate so you don't undercharge. It's easier to charge appropriately by tying it to the value. To get the value of a project, you'll need to ask questions about their goals. So if they're looking to grow online orders, ask questions like, "How much do is the average online order? How many more orders do you feel you could get with a better designed site/app?" Straight forward questions to get the amount of money they're losing in a month and year. Then use the 10x rule and deliver 10 times the value, by charging 10% (or less) of what they think they'll get. This way you can also use that big number (of extra revenue they'll receive) to put your pricing in context: "So conservatively speaking, a great design and customer experience could earn you an extra $100,000 a year, every year going forward." If your client isn't going to benefit enough to make charging 10% of the value they're gaining, then I'd recommend either working with different clients, or focusing on the work that will get them more value. Also, don't overthink this, just try it out as an experiment. If you really want to add a time component, say something like, "This will guarantee X days/weeks of design on your project." Try not to use hours, it's more likely to result in clients treating you like a commodity.

Naomi

The idea of approaching businesses directly doesn’t work anymore. I get hundreds of emails a month promoting this or that product or the latest author who absolutely must be interviewed about some subject or other, etc. I delete them without reading them, and my colleagues have told me they pay no attention to them, either. The best way to find clients is through people you already know, who can connect you to others who may be in need of your expertise.

kris

I have been trying to drum up more business with the whole ‘outreach template’ which you talk about in this post. I’ve connected on Comms managers/head of marketing people on Linked in, if they accept my connect I then send them this (see below). It’s had about a 2% success rate, can you give me any pointers etc?

Design opportunities

Hi XXX

Just wanted to say hi and thanks for accepting my LinkedIn Request.

The purpose of reaching out was to introduce me and my company, Cartwheels, to you. We are not a big agency, which helps keeps your cost’s low, but we have bags of experience and pride ourselves on being able to offer our client’s the full marketing service. If you were looking to outsource any graphic and digital design work, I was hoping we could help you out.

Feel free to jump onto the website to have a look through our portfolio and the services we can offer with quick turn around times.

http://www.cartwheels-creative.com.au

It would be great to hear about any graphic and digital design requirements you have at present or in the future and I will more than happy to give you any help where I can.

Thanks for reading and have a great XXXXXX.

Thanks Ruben.

Ruben

@Naomi – You’re making the same mistake a lot of developers make when they say marketing doesn’t work because they don’t pay attention to marketing — you’re not your customer. We directly contact businesses and have great results with that. I know several 7 and 8 figure agencies directly contacting prospects that make this model work. Many people fail at doing it well and give up too early (don’t improve what they’re doing), so I’m not surprised that it seems like it’s not effective, even though it works great for many.

@Kris – There could be a lot of reasons why your success rate is lower than you’d like. It could be the quality of the leads you’re targeting. And it may be a pretty normal success rate for your industry + price point. One thing that I’ll throw out there is that following up with additional emails is huge in making cold outreach work. Are you following up enough (or at all)? Anyway, I recommend you check out the LeadFuze blog for some great info on improving your template: https://www.leadfuze.com/blog/

joel

Great and nice article. So helpful for those who are willing to read. The objective is to understand how you can raise your rate by playing your part.

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