When I first started freelancing I thought that taking time off meant writing from bed instead of my desk. I told myself it was fun to set up my ‘soft office’ and wear pyjamas all day. And while I’ve still enjoyed a few days like that - especially while writing my book Out of Office - I’ve learned the hard way that burning the candle at both ends is not a sustainable way to run a business.
I had a mental breakdown several years before I went freelance, so I know only too well that depression and anxiety get worse when I’m stressed. But for a while, I accepted the ‘hustle’ narrative that we’re sold when we’re self-employed. We’re told to expect to work late nights, weekends, to forgo holidays in exchange for a busy schedule. I was overworked but more importantly, underpaid. The link between the two is undeniable and that’s why I’m inviting you to consider increasing your rates to improve your mental health.
Why? Well firstly, more money means less multi-tasking. Undercharging forces you to constantly look for more work, which means you’ll often accept low paying jobs that you try and squeeze into your already bulging schedule.I don’t know about you, but working on multiple projects at once makes me feel anxious and tired, often leading to burnout which can take weeks to recover from.
When you charge more you’ll find you’re not working as many hours which gives you time to be creative. Whether you take up journalling, knitting or just permit yourself to daydream, having the headspace for creativity is proven to boost your mood and help decrease stress levels.
Hands up if money worries keep you up at night? By increasing your rates you’ll be able to plan for the future instead of just fretting about it. You can begin to create income projections, start a savings fund for finally start putting money into a pension. Increasing your rates is scary, I get it. But here are some tips that I’ve used myself to get more money out of existing clients without causing any upset.
1. Give plenty of warning
Let your current clients know that you plan to put your rates up in a specific time frame, like the next ninety days, to give them time to get used to the idea. You can also increase them incrementally to ease the pain.
2. Have a conversation
Talking to someone face to face (or virtually) about money might sound terrifying, but in reality, it humanises the entire thing. It allows the client to ask questions and a chance for you to explain exactly why you’re charging more.
3. Do your research
When I increased my rates recently, I asked for input in a freelancer Facebook group and people were more than happy to share. Don’t be afraid to ask others in the All By Mama Network what they charge to give you something to compare your current rates to. You can also look at what your competitors are charging to get an idea of what the industry standard. Having these figures to back up your increase is so helpful because you can prove to the client that you’re not just plucking a number out of thin air.
BIO: Fiona Thomas is an author and freelance writer with work published in iPaper, Grazia, Happiful Magazine and Huffington Post. Her most recent book Out of Office: Ditch the 9-5 and Be Your Own Boss is a guide to freelancing.
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