Differentiate To Command Higher Freelance Fees And Raise Rates With Greater Ease

Learn how brand differentiation makes attracting and landing new clients easier and how differentiating your offer makes raising your rates easier.

red tulip differentiated in bed of white tulips

All service-based business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, at some point, struggle to figure out what to charge for their services.

This happens not only when you’re just starting out, but nearly every time you uplevel your business or alter your offers. For many freelancers I work with, who are undercharging for the value being delivered, raising rates is much harder than setting rates.

If you’re a freelancer or a micro agency owner, you’re most likely reading this because you want to raise your rates, charge your worth, and earn what you deserve. But you’re not quite sure how to do that.

  • Maybe you tried raising your rates and clients complained.
  • Maybe you shared your new rates with a client and they fired you.
  • Maybe you shared your new rate, it didn’t go well, and you ended up firing your client.
  • Maybe you raised your rates and lost out on a potential project.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Raising your freelance rates is challenging because it requires you to:

  • Step outside your comfort zone and your comfortable pricing.
  • Communicate the rate increase to existing clients and justify the new rate.
  • Articulate the value you bring to the table that makes the new rate a moot point.

Those last two points are where the problems occur with the typical rate increase. If you want to charge what you’re worth, raise your freelance rates, and have ideal clients happily say yes to paying your more money, you have put in the work needed to make that happen.

Brand Differentiation Attracts New Clients

When you’re just like everyone else, it’s nearly impossible for prospective clients to see why you’re the best choice. When every brand and offer feel the same, the only differentiator prospects have is price — and when you compete on price, everyone loses.

Differentiation is the secret behind building a strong brand, attracting quality leads, landing the clients you want, and having clients who are happy to not only pay your full fee but also happy to keep working with you when your fees increase.

When discussing differentiation, most people talk about branding and websites — differentiating yourself and your brand from other freelancers and agencies that offer the same services you do so you stand out and stay top of mind.

When your brand and website successfully communicate the value you deliver and how you’re different from competitors, you longer compete on price. That’s how you make the transition from being one of many choices to being the only choice. And when that happens, you can command higher fees, charge what you deserve, and get it.

Not sure how to differentiate your brand or yourself?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Qualifications and Credentials: Do you have a degree, certification, or a special qualification? Have you graduated from a program, been certified or approved in a certain method?
  • Experience: Have you overcome something, achieved something, or experienced something that has made you an expert?
  • Credibility Builders: Have you been featured in a book, newspaper, or magazine? Have you won any awards? Have you worked with any celebrities or well-known people or businesses? Have you written or co-written a book? Were you the first to do something?
  • What You Don’t Do: What do other people do that you don’t do? What do competitors brag up that you think is overrated or fluff?
  • How You Work: How is working with you different from working with someone else? Do you have a proprietary system? Are you faster or more comprehensive? Do you save people time, effort, or money? Are you more streamlined or easier? Do people get more for their money?
  • Your Results: What kind of results do your client experience? What benefits do they enjoy? What destination will they reach? Who will they become? How will your services help them, change their lives, or change their business?

Offer Differentiation Justifies Rate Increases

There’s another way to think about differentiation that is specific to raising rates and increasing freelance fees.

Rate increases fail when the offer and value being delivered remain the same.

When you attempt to charge more money for the exact same services, clients question whether or not the services are actually needed. It also prompts them to re-evaluate how much they’re spending and how much value they actually receive. It’s also a much harder (and often more uncomfortable) sell because you’re not providing anything new or different, you’re just asking for more money.

Rate increases succeed when the offer and value being delivered also change.

If you want clients to accept a fee increase or say yes to a higher rate, you need to make it harder for them to compare “apples to apples,” and prevent them from reconsidering how much they need your services. That means you need to differentiate your offer and present a new or enhanced package that goes with your new rates. When you pair a fee increase with a value increase, it’s a much easier sell.

If you’re content to stay where you’re at and you’re happy with what you currently earn, you can ignore this advice.

But if you want to grow your freelance business, enjoy greater satisfaction, and have more freedom, you’re going to invest in ongoing learning and enhance your skills. And, as you get better, you’ll need to raise your rates with existing clients. When that happens:

  • Identify the amount of the increase and the new rate.
  • Evaluate the associated service or offer and identify where existing features can be tweaked or adjusted to deliver more value.
  • Consider what could be added to the offer to delight clients, increase value, and accelerate results. Bonus points if the item doesn’t increase the cost of delivery or expand the time required of you.

The ultimate goal is to make the fee increase a win-win: a win for you because your revenue goes up and a win for the client because they receive more value.

Communicate Differentiation With Confidence

Once you have clearly identified your brand differentiation and differentiated your offers through smart packaging and pricing, it’s time to communicate your uniqueness with your audience.

From blog posts and social media posts to speaking engagements and podcast interviews to your website, elevator pitch, and marketing materials, every activity taken on behalf of your brand must communicate and reinforce what you do, who you serve, what results your work produces, and how you’re different.

You need to own your uniqueness and proudly share the impact of your “secret sauce,” be it a signature system or process, special combination of services, or even your own blend of experiences and history. Only then will ideal buyers see you as the best and only choice.

Once a lead chooses you and becomes a paying client, raising your rates is all about presenting a new offer that replaces the original — an offer that is clearly different and obviously better. If you can do that, you’ll be able to raise your rates with confidence and earn what you deserve.