Freelancing • Entrepreneurship • Remote Work • Productivity

Boost Your Freelance Income: Easy Steps For Negotiating Higher Rates

Time is money for freelancers. But while time may be finite, your income doesn’t have to be. Growing your revenue isn’t just about working more hours — rather, it’s about knowing how to negotiate better and justify increasing your rates.

To help freelancers negotiate better rates and increase their income, I asked nine industry professionals to share their top strategies. Here’s how they maximize their income fairly.

Leverage More Leads for Better Rates

To have more flexibility with negotiating better rates, leverage is needed. Desperation for work allows the client to control what they spend. However, having more leads in the pipeline allows for standing firm with rates. It’s recommended to ask qualifying questions before meeting with a client. 

For instance, before clients engage in a discovery call, having them pick their budget range that includes a minimum budget on a scheduling link can be beneficial. This sets up calls with leads who are actually willing to spend within the budget before they even meet.

Taylor Scher, SEO Associate, TaylorScherSEO

Demonstrate Value and Unique Selling Proposition

One strategy for negotiating better rates with clients and increasing your income as a freelancer is to focus on demonstrating the value you provide and how your services can directly benefit the client. 

Before entering any negotiation, be confident in the value of your skills, experience, and the quality of your work. Know your industry’s standard rates and ensure that you are charging a fair and competitive rate for your services. Showcase your past successes and achievements with measurable results. Share examples of projects you’ve completed that have delivered tangible benefits to previous clients. This will help build credibility and justify higher rates. Communicate your unique selling proposition (USP). 

Identify what sets you apart from other freelancers in your field and communicate it clearly to the client. Explain why your expertise and approach make you the best fit for their project. Positive feedback and testimonials from previous clients can boost your credibility.

Joe Li, Managing Director, CheckYa

Use Quantifiable Evidence in Negotiations

According to a 2022 LinkedIn study, freelancers who use quantifiable evidence of their performance in negotiations are 35% more likely to secure higher rates.

Track your contributions to your clients’ business metrics, especially those tied to profitability. For instance, if your PPC campaigns increased a client’s click-through rates by 20%, or drove a 30% growth in conversions, use these figures to highlight your value. 

In this context, demanding higher compensation isn’t just about what you want; it’s about what your expertise, quantifiably proven, is worth. Remember, your rates are a reflection of the quality and impact of your work, not just your time.

John Cammidge, PPC Expert, jcammidge

Showcase Prior Work and Testimonials

One strategy for negotiating better rates with clients and increasing your income as a freelancer is to showcase your prior work and testimonials as proof that you are worth the higher rate. 

Showcase your portfolio of past projects and provide positive feedback from your previous clients to demonstrate the quality of your work, as well as the value that you bring to the table. Furthermore, be prepared to explain why you are requesting a higher rate than other freelancers in your space. This could include highlighting any unique skills or expertise that you possess, as well as the quality of customer service that you offer.

Amira Irfan, Founder and CEO, A Self Guru

Increase Income through Upselling

One strategy for increasing a freelancer’s income is the use of upselling. As part of the negotiation process, upselling involves offering additional value-added services in exchange for slightly higher rates. For instance, one uncommon example might be offering to promote the client’s product or service on your personal blog and social media accounts, in addition to completing the initial project. 

This could be a beneficial marketing tool while allowing you to increase revenue from other sources at minimal cost. In summary, introducing upsells into negotiations can prove a smart alternative when trying to negotiate better rates as a self-employed contractor.

Michael Alexis, CEO,

Let Client Start the Rate Negotiation

Always let the other negotiating party throw out the first number when negotiating a new rate, if possible. 

It’s important to communicate that you’re looking to renegotiate your rates based on the current trends in the market. Given the work you’ve been doing, you might feel that the current remuneration is not enough. If you’re lucky, you might get the rate you’re looking for with no negotiation. 

However, if negotiation is required, it puts you in the driver’s seat as they’ve shown their hand first.

Kate Kandefer, CEO, SEOwind

Charge Per Project, Not Hourly

Negotiating better rates as a freelancer is like playing chess; it’s all about strategy.

One approach I’ve found effective is charging per project, not by the hour. It’s like being a magician; your client doesn’t need to know how fast you pull the rabbit out of the hat, just that you did it. This way, your speed and efficiency become your secret weapon, not a limiting factor. Another tactic is to negotiate based on the client’s perceived value of your work. 

It’s like selling a painting; its worth isn’t in the paint and canvas, but in the value the buyer sees in it. Understand how your work benefits the client and price accordingly. Remember, in the art of negotiation, the masterpiece is a deal where both parties walk away feeling victorious.

James Allen, Founder,

Underpromise and Overdeliver for Better Rates

Navigating the delicate terrain of negotiating rates is a crucial skill for any freelancer. One strategy that has worked remarkably well for me is the concept of “underpromise and overdeliver.” It’s a simple yet effective approach that not only helps in securing better rates but also fosters strong, lasting relationships with clients.

Underpromising doesn’t mean undervaluing your skills or services. Rather, it’s about setting realistic expectations and then exceeding them. Clients appreciate a freelancer who goes above and beyond what was initially agreed upon. It shows them that you are dedicated, reliable, and committed to delivering exceptional quality. 

As a result, they’re more likely to return for future projects and willing to pay a premium for your services. Plus, happy clients often lead to valuable referrals, naturally increasing your income over time.

Juliet Dreamhunter, Founder, Juliety

Link Services to Client’s Business Goals

When negotiating a rate with a client, it’s important to remember that they are looking for more than just quality work. They are also looking for someone who can help them meet their business goals. If you can demonstrate how your services will help the client reach their goals, you may get a better rate.

For example, if you are pitching a website-design project, you could show how your design will help the client increase sales or attract new customers. If you can show how your services will help the client’s business grow, they may be more willing to pay a higher rate. By demonstrating how your services will help the client succeed, you may get a better rate from them.

Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade

Share your own advice on how to negotiate better rates as a freelancer in the comments.

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