Script: Tell A Past Client Your Rate Has Increased Since They Last Hired You

Get email scripts for responding to past clients who reach out about new projects but aren't expecting your new higher rates.

Hand flipping trough stack of money to show a rate increase

Sunday Scripts

What’s the comeback for when a past client reaches out with new work and expects to pay my old rates even though my rates have increased since we last worked together?

While it seems like everyone is pursuing recurring revenue — selling monthly retainers, monthly subscriptions, and productized services like monthly website care plans — there are still a lot of people who want to hire a professional for a one-off service without the requirement of a long-term contract.

These one-off clients, hire you for a specific task or project on an as-needed basis. They might hire you for a one-time engagement, hire you a few times a year, or hire you on a regular basis but prefer an ad-hoc relationship.

In my agency, I love having a mix of retainer clients and one-off clients.

Retainer clients provide a stable baseline of recurring revenue and dependable cash flow that can be used for planning and forecasting, while one-off clients provide periodic cash infusions that can be used to reinvest in business growth and marketing initiatives.

There’s just one problem with those one-off, ad-hoc clients: Things may change between engagements and that can lead to some interesting conversations.

For example, a client you worked with a year ago shows up with a new project and a budget that matches what they paid a year ago, only since then you have raised your rates significantly. This can feel like a gut-punch because you know you’re going to have to tell the client that they’ll need to pony up some more money to work with you again.

If you find yourself in this situation, use the scripts below to communicate your rate increase.

If you want to share your new packages along with your new rates…


I have to thank you, [CLIENT NAME]. You trusted me with your brand and vision and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. I loved working with you and I am excited at the possibility of doing so again.

Since working together, I have had the opportunity to reinvest in my business and my skills, expand my capabilities, and help some other amazing [IDEAL CLIENT DESCRIPTION] and watch them [RESULTS] after our work together — it’s been so gratifying.

One result of this is that my prices have increased since the last time worked together.

Here’s a link where you can check out my full suite of packages and prices: [LINK]

I’d love to schedule a quick Zoom call to catch up, hear about your new project, and talk about pricing so I can get you an accurate estimate.


Another option to give a past client a heads up about your fee increase…


It’s great to hear from you! I would love to discuss your new project!

Since we last worked together, my packages and rates have changed to reflect the additional experience and added value that clients now receive — I’m always striving to improve and have developed new skills and client processes to ensure an even smoother project.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting, sharing my new packages with you, and learning more about your project!

Here’s a link to book a conversation.


If they’re unhappy and you can meet them in the middle…

If you’re in a position where you can’t yet turn away work, a quick cash infusion would help with cash flow, or you want to create clear a path for additional future work with a client, you can be flexible just this one time.

This option depends heavily on the size of the project and ask. If it’s a relatively small project or something that can be finished quickly, offering your old rate with the expectation that all future work will be done at the new rate will ease the transition and honor the existing relationship.


I understand that you reached out with the expectation that the investment would be the same as it was last time. I’m sorry that wasn’t the case.

How about another option? I’ve reviewed my current project schedule and we have an opening next week. Because you were such a great client, I’m happy to make a one-time exception and honor your previous investment level if we can get a contract signed by the end of the week and start next week.

If that works for you, let’s have a quick meeting to talk through specifics and get a contract put together. Here’s a link to book a conversation.


If they’re unhappy and you want to stick to your new fees…

If you’re already booked solid or have no problem filling your schedule with clients who are willing and happy to pay your full rate, there is absolutely no reason to work for less just to appease a past client who pops up every once in a while.


I understand that you reached out with the expectation that the investment would be the same as it was last time. I’m sorry that wasn’t the case.

Unfortunately, I’m booked for the next few months and don’t have the capacity to take on new projects at my old rates. While I would love to work with you again, I understand if it’s not in the cards at this time.

Can you let me know either way?



These scripts are just four you’ll find in Confident Comebacks, a collection of professional client service scripts that will help you quickly and confidently craft firm, fair, friendly responses to sticky client situations.

Raise Your Rates

Ninety-nine percent of all freelancers and small business owners undercharge for their time, services, and value.

Many work harder and earn less than they did in their traditional jobs, which makes sense as PayScale reports that the median income for a small business owner is only around $64,000 per year. Many also set their rates initially and haven’t raised them once since starting their business.

The thing is while their rates haven’t changed, their skills have improved, capabilities have expanded, knowledge has deepened, packages have grown, and the value delivered to clients has skyrocketed. This creates a problematic misalignment of revenue and effort.

Maybe you can relate?

  • If you haven’t raised your rates since starting your business, raise them now.
  • If you haven’t raised your rates in at least a year, raise them now.
  • If you’re continually learning and upping your game, raise your rates.

It’s likely that even with a 10% rate hike, you’ll still be undercharging for the level of service your clients receive — and if you’re not quite ready to tell existing clients your rates are going up, raise your rates for all new clients and start there.

And, if you need help, check out Packaging + Pricing, my self-study course that walks you through identifying your proper minimum, goal, and effective hourly rates, creating a rate card, packaging your services for profit, and testing and tracking your offers and pricing.

Trust me, you are worth everything and more. Your work is also worth far more than you think it is. You just need to be brave enough to believe it and ask for what you deserve.