I Raised My Prices & Got More Clients

Pricing. That word alone can give most freelancers an anxiety attack.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s the deal:

You’re charging too little.

Yes you.

And I probably still am too. But I’m working on it.

I recently raised my prices. I basically doubled them.

And you know what happened?

I got more clients.

And I actually need less of them to “survive”.

As my past coach & now friend (and FTF community member), Heather Thorkelson says, “Less clients = more time to spoil the ones you’ve got.”

So now, not only do I have more requests in my inbox (we’ll talk about why in a second), but I can be more picky and only saying yes to the ones I know I truly jive with.

Which makes work more fun. 

And we all want more fun right?

Pricing always comes down to confidence & comparison.

When I first started, I chose my prices by looking at others in my industry. I then thought that they had way more experience and a bigger portfolio than me, so I reduced their price down to what I thought someone couldn’t say no to.

I wasn’t thinking about the value I provide or the time I spent educating myself to learn the skills I had.

I wanted to have a price someone couldn’t say no to. Eek. People can’t say no to low prices right?

Wrong.

Here’s why raising your prices can make you more appealing to potential customers:

  • Anyone who looks for a service is not just looking at you. They’re checking out a few options. If you’re the lowest price, they will likely wonder why. Do you not have a lot of experience? Are they going to get screwed somehow? Are there things they need that won’t be included? Yes, people price shop, but price isn’t what will make their final decision.
  • It gives potential clients confidence that you know what you’re doing and they’ll be taken care of.
  • It allows you to take on less clients and give more attention to the ones you have. Clients want that attention, and want to hire someone that will provide it.
  • Higher price = higher perceived value. Lower price= lower perceived value. People want more value.

Story time:

I recently hired a copywriter for my website relaunch. I had looked at a ton of copywriter websites before deciding who to go with. As any new business owner, I hesitate to make investments in my biz, so I was some-what drawn to the one that was half the price of the others.

She did have great testimonials. Her own copy got my attention. She was available in the time-frame I needed. But she was promising much more for a significantly lower price. And in the end, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking she must not be that good, and went with the higher priced one.

I didn’t think it through then as much as I am now while writing this. It just kinda happened that way subconsciously.

And I don’t want potentially awesome clients not choosing me for those reasons.

Which leads us back to the fact that I raised my prices.

And got more clients.

Other benefits besides just increasing my income significantly:

  • Higher paying clients respect my time & skills more.
  • Higher paying clients know what they want and can clearly state it.
  • I am more excited about going above and beyond for them because I know that I am being paid what I’m worth (there is nothing worse then the resentment that comes when a low-paying client expect too much from you).
  • I’m more motivated to do better work.
  • Higher paying clients refer higher paying clients. (no need to worry that the first client may be a fluke)
  • I can stop saying yes to those clients that I know (from the first consult call) are going to be a hassle to work with. You know what I’m talking about!
  • Higher paying clients understand the value of my services and are extremely appreciative of it. We all want to feel appreciated.

So go on now, raise your prices please.

But, Leah, I’m just starting?!

Just pick a number to start. (Even if there’s a high chance it’s too low)

No bites? Tweak your website, tweak your marketing, tweak other stuff, but don’t lower it until you’ve exhausted the other possible reasons.

A lot of bites? Great! Maybe you started too low, time to reevaluate and see.

You’ll quickly see how much work you put into each project and how each project makes you feel in terms of being respected for the value you provide rather than the price.

Then raise that number again. Raise it every 2 months if you want. Keep adding more value, and increasing the price until you find that magic number where you truly feel you’re being compensated for the value you provide.

But don’t let prices keep your from putting your stuff out there.

The point is…your prices aren’t set in stone. The freelancing thing is just a big series of experiments. So experiment with it.

Still stuck in the how-much-to-charge trap? Here are some of my favorite resources:

Get over your money fears with Denis Duffield Thomas

Heather Thorkelson’s How To Charge Whatever You Want For Your Services

Freshbooks Breaking The Time Barrier

Seth Godin’s What Does “Too Expensive” Mean?

So….I wanna know:

What has your experience been with raising your prices? And if you haven’t yet, tell us what’s stopping you? Comment below!
P.S. If you liked this post, I’d so appreciate if you shared it with those social buttons below!

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Checklist-Coversmall

FREE ‘GET CLIENTS FAST’ CHECKLIST
Quick action steps you can take to bring in a rush of clients fast.

Get it!

{ 38 comments… add one }
  • I struggle with this SO much. Last year, I was still doing hourly work – so I raised my rate. I realized because I work so quickly, I was cheating myself — so I switched over to flat-rates per project. I read once, several months ago, about raising your rates slowly with each new client. Do a project-x for $100? After you do that particular work another time or two, raise it to $150.

    • I’m still doing hourly work, Jessica, but recently I have been thinking a lot about going to packages, too. I also am a quick worker, so sometimes what I charge for my time doesn’t really reflect the value of my efforts.

      Raising your prices with each client is a good strategy. I started my first client on a pretty low hourly rate because I wasn’t sure what I was doing (as far as starting a business or just keeping busy until I found another job), but I raised my prices with the next one, and then the next one. I might raise them one more time soon, if I don’t move quickly into packages.

      By the way, I love your website and your work. The site is so clean and easy to follow, and you have some pretty cool projects. Frank the chair made me smile, and the 50|50 and names of God are pretty cool, too.

  • Prices are always hard to set.. I go by how long it will take me and the complexity of the coding. I agree with all you say about higher prices…but there is such a thing as too high. I have certainly lost a few clients becaue my quote was too high.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes of course Doug. It’s a matter of finding your sweet spot. Go to where you feel comfortable and a price that reflects your value, and if that’s too high, adjust. Experiments!

    • Having potential clients walk away because your price is too high isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a selection process. As the post mentioned, clients that pay a high price are a certain type of client, so if they don’t want to pay it just means they aren’t your target market.

  • I just recently raised my prices on my site. I started with a branding special that was priced really low because I wanted to get some work to fill my portfolio. But after doing one (and not having other takers) I decided to take it off my site and raise the prices I had set (though I think they’re still low). This was mostly because I want to put a lot of time and effort into making their branding PERFECT for them. And that melding of our styles took way more time than just working on something for me. This article has come at a great time and I’m still considering raising them more- I love the part where you said you can pamper the clients you do have this way! That’s exactly what I want! Some of the best pricing advice I’ve heard about pricing is that even if you double your prices and loose half your clients you’re still better off. Love that.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Exactly Megan! That too is what happened to me. At my lower prices I couldn’t spend the time I wanted to with each. And if I did anyway, that’s where the resentment came in. Definitely check out Heather’s article about the pampering, she is so spot on!

  • Thank you for this!! I’m just getting to the point now where I’m feeling a big overhaul of most of my services coming and I’ll be using that to see how I can add even more amazing value and as such, charge higher prices but I just wanted to say you inspired me to up the price of each of my services right now, on the spot. (Not a lot. But a bit!) Because it doesn’t have to be a big deal, it’s just an experiment : ) Thank you!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes- package revamp is the perfect time. There is always something you can add (in terms of more value) that will help you to feel comfortable with the next step. Glad I inspired you to take some baby steps, I’m certain you are worth it. Glad I booked you yesterday though 🙂 Haha, just kidding, would have paid even more!

  • Leah, you are the bestest.
    It’s such a freaking tough topic, and you made it sound easy-peasy.
    Thanks for all the tried-and-proved advice!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Well easy-peasy, it never quite is. But if we can make it sound that way, then it makes it just a little bit easier to take action!

  • Leah, thanks for this post. Very timely (okay, always timely!). I recently raised my prices as well, but I know my value calls for even higher prices. Oh, money blocks, always hanging out in my head… but I shall eliminate them, thanks to the help of people like Denise DT, whom you linked to, and blog posts like this. Freelancers unite and let’s raise our prices!

  • Great post Leah! But I must also challenge you with the fact that your work rocks and is of high quality. You have a beautiful portfolio and you have your ducks in a row. I’ve seen some designers come out of the gate with a hideous portfolio (that even they aren’t proud of) and want to charge top dollar right away. I know I turn and walk away, not sure if anyone else takes them up on it 🙂

    I started out my consulting at free for one month, then $200 for 3 sessions and then bounced up to $899 for 4 sessions (huge scary jump for me!). That is when I started getting more of my dram clients who were ready to truly find success in their business. I know that when they booked with me it was a stretch…but the GOOD stretch.

    I’ve gotten even more realistic with my pricing and the value of the non-hourly time I devote to my peeps. I don’t associate my higher-end packages with the hours I “spend with them”, I base it on the time I devote to them outside of our sessions. I’ve hit a sweet spot (finally) and I’m loving it! They are seeing results in growing their biz and my bank account isn’t looking like penny tip jar anymore 🙂

    • That sounds perfect, Anna!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh yes Anna, I do agree. I think it’s a different ball game when JUST starting. There are definitely a million factors (and plenty of blog posts) talking about how to choose your first prices. Experience, portfolio, what you need to live, etc. But I do have to say that the people you described are the minority. I do think most people under-charge. It’s a matter of finding a balance of what you feel comfortable with, the value you truly bring, and what people are willing to pay for. If you’re just starting out and have a portfolio you’re not proud of, and don’t have your “ducks in a row”, then you need to work on that stuff first (another post for another day!) And I’m sure those people you’re talking about- charging too much with a portfolio they’re not proud of- will see quickly that they have priced too high and will need to adjust.

      And to your point of my work being good enough to raise my prices- the problem with that is we never know when it’s good enough. And most of the time we don’t think it is. So that’s where we need to stop thinking about it tooooo much and just experiment. In my opinion of course! (which just made me think of that crazy judge on The Good Wife, haha)

      Thanks so much for bringing up that point of you! It’s a hot topic with lots of possible discussion!

  • Pricing was one of the hardest things to do – but I’m learning to do better! I really had a tough time with repeat clients – not giving them the same price they had but doing the work at my current pricing. Raising our prices is not only good for us to get paid what we’re worth but to encourage other freelancers to do the same – a win for us, them and the clients! 🙂

  • I swear you have the best timing with posts! I’m in the process of putting together packages. I love your point about having the flexibility to say “no” and give your clients extra attention.

  • Thank you for writing this! This is just what I needed. I’ve been having trouble developing my pricing, so the info you provided will def. be put to good use.

  • Well said, as always! I have to admit that this is something I’ve been struggling with, but with the help of DDT and getting my money stuff together, I’m getting better. Bookmarking for future use 🙂

  • Carrie

    I’ve been working on some hourly rate based projects (sub-contracting) as well as a few flat fee projects (my direct clients). About a month in, it was really obvious my plan of starting low to build portfolio work was just painful and not helpful! I also feel like it has slowed my ability to grow and focus my business in the timeframe I had planned. It has taken 2 months to get all that low priced work off my plate. Now I’m struggling to get my finances in order so I can get my business setup like it needs to be. (LLC registration, bank accounts, business cards, fees for software…) LESSON LEARNED. ha!

  • Thank you so much Leah! This makes me feel much more comfortable since pricing is such a loaded topic. And I know it’s time for me now 😉

    xxx

  • I just raised one of my prices for a new inquiry. She is looking to subcontract me for some stuff. She didn’t balk at all, which then made me think I’m still too low.

    I recently read something that said to always remember that people show their values through what they purchase. If they truly value what you do, they’ll pay your price. If they don’t, they won’t. The clients that will likely drive you crazy are the ones who don’t value what you do. So price is a pretty easy way to filter them out.

  • It’s wonderful that raising your prices worked so well!
    Personally, my problem with pricing stems from the fact I live in a country with a much lower standard than US, UK and other western countries, so it just feels weird to charge twice or four times as much as people around me do.

    I suppose you’re right, maybe it does sound “too good to be true” for a designer with almost a decade under her belt to charge so little. I guess I’d better increase those prices a bit 🙂

  • Yes! I started my biz with the same thoughts. Have to start low while I build. I was lucky and got a hand full of clients but could have made much more money in hindsight. I wouldn’t have worked with me with a price so much lower than my competition. I think women struggle with this more than men. That said, now that I’ve raised my price…I could use more clients! But I’m glad I did!

  • I needed this! I raised my prices once since starting last year (about 30% higher) and it helped. Then, I recently had a family friend ask about my business and when I told her my price, she said: What?! you have to charge more! I did restructure things so that my online personal training starts with super basics and doesn’t include options that I believe most clients should add, but clearly I still need to change. I have a new program that starts March, 31st so I won’t change that part yet, but I will update for the next one and vow to change my PT prices (I just have to do some overall website tweaks first). I’m scheduling it all for April 1st….but it won’t be a joke 😉

    Thank you!!! and glad your biz is booming 😉

  • I love this post and you explained it so well, Leah (as per usual).

    I’m reluctant to pay $50 for a logo design on Etsy because it’s so cheap, but I know she does good work. Human minds are weird.

  • Ahhh…pricing! Or, I should say, “ughhhhhhh, pricing!” 🙁
    I do not like it at all…but it is necessary, of course! I keep working at it…and keep raising my prices…and I know that with time, my confidence will build up even more…and it will get easier. Thanks for writing this post. I feel that the more I read about it…the easier it gets. So keep the cheerleading up! Thank you!

  • Anna

    Thanks for this post – pricing is sooo scary to me! I’m also struggling with a) how many clients to do free work for (I’m just starting out) before I start charging and b) what to charge when I do start.

  • Thanks for the tips, Leah! Just found your blog today and love it 🙂

    Loving your point about ‘less clients, more time to spoil the ones you’ve got’.

    I’m currently launching a new Summer Launch special (as I’m just about to go full-time in my photography business!) so have been thinking about pricing… for some reason, I have much more confidence in quality pricing in some areas of my business than others… not really sure if that reflects my preference for one over another, or if I somehow don’t believe I’m ‘as good’ in those areas?

    Chelley.x

  • This is something I struggle with so much. I’m an artist and do pet portrait commissions. There are so many really good pet portrait artists in cyber space that’s the usa huge amount of competition. I never know what to charge and compared to many I’m vastly cheaper but then on etsy there are many more cheaper than me (so cheap they can’t be breaking even far less making a profit yet they have 100s of sales/reviews) is it different when clients can see your work as in previous portraits and are deciding on whether they like your style of art or will they still base it on price-it’s something I’m so confuse about!

  • Great article, very encouraging. I think having a few clients that appreciate the value we bring rather than numerous projects with low paying clients does give a boost to ones ego and encourages better services.

  • Great Post! It really made me that much more confident in the increase of my prices!

    I give tons of value to my clients and I’ve recently faced a cross-roads, I thought I was a horrible business person, I wanted to quit and just take care of my current clients and not accept any new clients because the work load was to huge and massive.

    Then I realized I was undervaluing myself and under pricing myself. So I faced the fear, raised and even posted my starting rate!

    I feel so amazing and I truly feel like it will give me more room to do the things I love to do, plus better take care of the clients that are willing to pay the prices I know I’m more than worth.

    Yay!

  • Mac

    Hello,

    I have been freelancing for almost 2 years and strangely got into the habit of every time I got a new client I quoted them a little more than the last to suss out what’s the right price for me. All good there. But now I’m at a stage where I really need to ask my older clients for more. I know how to write to them to ask but I’m just not confident in how much percentage wise to ask them? I know that even if I do 10% increase that is still nowhere near my current rate for other new clients who know my work. This older client is already a retainer so get’s a little off the top already. I hope you can help.

    Thank you!

  • Pricing is such a misunderstood part of marketing. Lots of people think that only way to make sales is to make prices very low, preferably lower than the competition.

    Thank you for writing this, Leah! I think many people need to take your example and just make their prices higher (and then a bit higher again).

Leave a Comment