Your freelance blogging dream was a trap.
And you never saw it coming.
“Get as many clients as you can,” they said. “You’ll always have steady work!”
And you did! Now your calendar is full, and you churn out blog posts like nobody’s business.
So… how is that bad?
I’m glad you asked!
For your freelance blogging business to thrive, getting steady work at a steady rate isn’t enough. I mean, if “steady” were all you wanted, you might as well have stayed at your day job!
You need room for growth. For raising your rates to reflect the growing value of your work. For landing new high-paying clients. You can’t afford to be stuck on a hamster wheel of writing blog posts, day in and day out.
For most freelance bloggers, solving this problem boils down to three options:
- Land more freelance blogging clients at a higher rate – at the risk of cramming your calendar to bursting and falling behind on deadlines.
- Set an arbitrary deadline, like January 1st, to raise your rates. Then notify your clients about it, and keep your fingers crossed that they won’t dump you for someone cheaper.
- Clench your teeth and fire some of your current clients. Then look for better-paying gigs, while getting used to the thought that your income will drop temporarily.
But what if there was Option #4? What if you could renegotiate your freelance blogging rates with your current clients?
I am not talking about a 10 or 15 percent increase here – I’m talking about raising your rate to double or triple what it was before!
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do just that.
Earlier this year, I’ve made one of the best decisions of my freelancing career, and raised my blogging rate from $75 to $250 per post with my favorite client.
Before then, this used to be how much I made with them per month (give or take)…
…and now this is how much they pay me, on average, every two weeks.
I negotiated a bunch of extra projects with that client, too – so blog posts aren’t all I do for them. But a big chunk of this money comes from the fact that I took the time and effort to renegotiate my freelance blogging rate.
I’m going to share with you the exact five-step process I used to raise my rate – including word-for-word emails and my proposal. It worked for me, and it will work for you.
You don’t need to be a seasoned blogger to pull it off.
You don’t have to worry about rejection – because you will do it in a non-sleazy way that’s almost impossible to refuse.
And best of all, when you do it, no matter the outcome, your clients will like, trust, and respect you even more!
Interested? Then let’s dive right in!
Step 1. Researching How to Add Value to Your Client
Ask yourself: why does your client bother with blogging?
They want to achieve a certain goal, and maintaining a blog is just a means to that end. Usually that goal is two-pronged:
- To establish themselves as an authority in the industry
- To get more traffic, leads, and sales through their blog
Your client cares about their blog because they want those results. They want more prestige, more visibility, more customers – badly enough that they pay a freelance blogger (that’d be you) to write for them.
And under the right conditions, they will happily pay you more.
What are those conditions? For starters, your client needs to know that you understand and share their goals. And they need to believe that you can help them achieve those goals faster.
In Step One, your job is to find out: what does your client care about more – authority, or sales?
You can do that by carefully researching your client’s business – or, as I like to put it, cyberstalking the shit out of them. Here’s how:
- Research how they are acquiring new clients – does content marketing play an important role in attracting new business?
- Check if they have a solid promotion strategy in place for new posts – for example, if they are paying for ads to bring visitors to content. If that’s the case, chances are that they want to get more traffic.
- Subscribe to their email list through one of the blog posts and examine how their email marketing works. If you get pitched a paid product or service at any point, it means that they are using the blog to make sales.
- Search for possible guest posts or contributed articles by your client elsewhere on the Web (using a service like BuzzSumo, for instance). If they go out of their way to contribute articles on reputable websites, they care about – you guessed it! – building authority.
Depending on what you discover during your research, you will know what your client cares about more. If it’s traffic, leads, and sales, they will leap at the opportunity to get even more. If it’s about authority, your client will love you forever if you show them how you can help them be perceived as a thought leader.
And don’t forget: if cyberstalking fails to turn up a definitive conclusion, you can always write to the client and ask them about their goals with the blog – duh!
In fact, I would recommend that you do it anyway – what if your client has had enough of authority, and wants to optimize their blog for leads and sales? Or the other way around?
When I was executing Step One, prowling through my client’s assorted marketing channels, I quickly discovered an opportunity. Ninety percent of their customers came in through referrals and paid traffic – at which point their highly trained sales team would take over and convert those prospects.
The blog, even though an important part of their brand, didn’t play a big role in generating revenue. All they cared about was how good it make them look – so all I needed was to discover a way to make them look even better! Or better yet, multiple ways.
Which brings me to Step Two…
Step 2. Formulating Your Irresistible Value-Adds
Once you know what your client’s goals are, you will want to find out where your services fit in.
Don’t worry – once you’ve done your homework, coming up with ways to add value to your client becomes very easy, even if you’re new to freelance blogging.
In fact, let’s try to formulate some value-adds right now!
Is your client a fan of a particular popular blog? They might love the idea of producing content of similarly high quality – something unique, but equally awesome. For example, if your client is a fan of Neil Patel and Quicksprout, you might offer to write an ultimate guide for them.
Do they want to stand out in a crowded market, where every other brand has a blog identical to theirs? Help them by putting together a list of ideas for compelling, original content – that their competitors could never imitate, even if they wanted to. For example:
- Case studies or interviews with successful customers.
- Original articles based on their own research in the industry.
- Disruptive, polarizing, unusual content that nobody else in their niche is doing.
- Extremely detailed, actionable blog posts that stick out like a sore thumb in a sea of boring, “10 tips to do X” kind of content.
Does your client want more traffic, or increased email opt-in rates on their blog? Then you might want to reconsider your approach to creating content. For example, by developing content upgrades for your best posts, or prioritizing traffic-generation strategies, like guest posting.
I would challenge you to list 8-10 potential value-adds that you could provide to your freelance blogging client. Then, I want you to go through that list and ask yourself three all-important questions:
- “Is this something that would help my client achieve their goals?”
- “Is this something I can competently do at my skill level?”
- “If I can’t, would I be able to learn how to do this well?”
Shortlist 2-3 most compelling value-adds, where you answer to at least 2 out of 3 questions is a resounding “Yes!” or “Hell yeah!” – whichever you like best.
Here’s part of the list of value-adds I came up with in my own planning. As you remember, my client cared about authority and brand reputation – so I focused on those things and ruthlessly cut out everything else.
Step 3. Pitching the Client
You know what the client wants. You have a list of awesome things you can do so they get what they want. Now it’s time for the scary part…
Your pitch (gasp!).
Now, what many freelance bloggers would do here – and what I used to do many times, in my awe-inspiring stupidity – is this… They would send the client a wonderfully thoughtful, detailed email that describes in great detail what they would love to do for their blog.
You will not be doing that (please), because it would backfire.
Best-case scenario, your client will politely say that they are too busy right now, but you should totally talk about it later. And then they will promptly forget that it happened.
Worst-case scenario, you will get crickets.
Worst-ever-case scenario, your client will assume that you want to take advantage of your business relationship, all to squeeze more money out of them.
None of these outcomes are what we’re looking for. So instead of dropping a surprise proposal in your client’s unsuspecting lap, you will take a different approach and send a short “feeler” email.
In the email, you will tell your client that you have some ideas about improving their blog. Then, you will ask them if they want to hear more about it.
Now, in my case, the client wrote to me to express gratitude about the blog posts I was writing for them. So I used it as an opportunity to mention that I was working on some ideas. And one month later – because I’m a slow-poke who hates making money, apparently – I wrote this email as follow-up:
It’s a short message, but there’s a lot going on with it. Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a second. What are they thinking?
“What is this? He’s been thinking about how to help my business? And he wants to give me his ideas, just like that? Yes please!”
Notice that we’re not framing it as feedback or advice – which implies a value judgment. We are offering potentially valuable ideas, that’s all. What kind of business owner would say no to this?
Once you get a yes from the client, the ball is in your court. It’s hard for me to offer specific advice on what happens next, because I don’t know what you will be pitching, and how you normally communicate with your client.
As you can see, the way I did it was by getting on a short call with the client, where we discussed my ideas. We had occasional phone calls before then, so it was easy to arrange.
If you’ve never talked to your client “live”, doing everything by email can work as well. That said, I still recommend having a phone call, or a Skype chat – it makes pitching much easier.
When delivering your pitch, you will want to follow these guidelines:
- Show to the client that you understand what their goals are. This demonstrates both empathy (you give a shit about helping them) and authority (you know what they need help with).
- Whenever you bring up an idea for the client’s blog, always circle back to how it will help their business. “Connect the dots” for them, make it real.
- Do NOT talk about pricing at this stage. Your goal is to get on the same page with the client about what they want, and convince them that you are the one who can get them there.
Note: even at this early stage, your client might ask you about the price. If it happens, tell them, like any self-respecting freelancer would, that you’ll need to write up a proposal before you give them a quote. Never guesstimate a blogging rate under pressure – it’s a sure-fire way to undervalue your services and screw yourself over!
Finally, after you’ve finished pitching your ideas, wrap it up by asking a very simple question, “So if you’re interested, how about I send you a proposal next week? Then you can let me know if you want to do this.”
Again, notice how low-key this is. There’s no hard sell. No wild claims. No requests to commit to anything. It’s very easy for the client to say yes and continue down the path… which ends with them paying you more – hopefully, a lot more – for your freelance blogging services!
Next up, let’s talk about your proposal.
Step 4. Preparing a Proposal (and Stabbing Risk in the Face)
Now that you’ve done 90% of the hard work upfront, creating a proposal is easy! Here in Russia, one would say it was as easy as “pissing on two fingers”…
(Don’t ask me where that saying comes from. I have no idea.)
Now, I don’t know about you, but I write my proposals as Nature intended – in Google Docs. It’s free, fast, and very easy. Of course, I’m also a technophobe, and even the most user-friendly proposal software turns into a glitchy fuckpotato when I try to use it.
My point is, don’t overthink it. The format of your proposal is not important. Instead, focus on what you will include in it. To make sure that it has the intended effect, your proposal should check these boxes:
- Demonstrate understanding of your client’s goals for their business.
- Explain in detail what you will be doing for them.
- Draw a direct line from your services to accomplishing what they want.
- Outline the increased pricing you will be asking for.
- Include an element of risk-reversal, to reassure the client.
Now, I want to talk about pricing and risk-reversal in a little more detail.
First of all, don’t make a big deal out of it. Every time you say things like, “I know it’s a steep price increase, but…” somebody, somewhere shoots a kitten in the face. You don’t want that on your conscience, do you?
Be matter-of-fact about it, and never apologize about charging for increased value. If you nailed what your client really wants, and you managed to convince them that you’re the one to make it happen, you should encounter no price resistance at all.
But instead of telling you all this, I should probably show you, right? Here’s how I handled the pricing question in my own proposal:
Fun fact: deep down, I was terrified to make the leap to $250 per post… and quote $150/hr for additional work on top of that!
But I crunched the numbers, and it didn’t make sense to bother with anything less than that. So I went ahead and did it anyway – and then poured myself a hearty dram of Scotch afterwards to calm my nerves.
Now that we’ve dealt with pricing, let’s talk about risk-reversal.
When your client says yes to your proposal, they shouldn’t feel like an uncertain gamble. Ideally, it should feel like the best decision they’ve made all year. Or at the very least as the best business experiment they’ve done all year.
That’s why you want to give your client a guarantee. So that, if things go wrong, or they change their mind, or they don’t love your work for any reason, they have a way out.
For example, you can do a sample piece of new-and-improved content for them, and see if they love it or not. If they do, you proceed with writing for them at an increased rate. If they don’t, you can get their feedback, fix the content, and then proceed to work at your new rate anyway!
Most critically, the risk-reversal element protects you as well as the client. You don’t want to jump in with both feet, only to discover that you have to work ten times harder to deliver the new content – or that your new work bores you to death!
Here’s how I did it: for one month after sending out the proposal, I wrote new-and-improved content for my client at my old rate. I got a chance to test if I could handle it and stay on deadline without working much harder, and my clients got 4 kickass posts without spending any extra. Win-win!
You don’t have to go that far, of course, but anything you can do to make it a no-brainer for the client would help you both.
Step 5. Overcoming Possible Objections
If you did the work and executed every step of the way with diligence, getting any pushback from the client, at all, is unlikely. In fact, the first time I ever tried this process a few years ago, I was offered a full-time position on the spot, and had to politely decline.
So it’s safe to assume that, nine times out of ten, your client will say, “Shut up and take my money!” – if not in so many words.
But it helps to be prepared for the possible tenth time. For Step Five, we’re going to examine two most common objections that your client might have: price resistance, and the good ol’ “I need to think about it” excuse. And we’ll explore how to deal with them.
- “Sticker shock.” Sometimes, the contrast between your old rate and your suggested new rate can be jarring. Especially if you’re going for a double or triple increase. But if your client believes in paying well for valuable work, you can salvage the situation.
- The first thing to ask your client when you encounter price resistance is, what kind of number did they have in mind?
- If that number isn’t outrageously low – maybe 15-25% lower – ask what would make them happy to pay your quoted rate.
- Now, is it something you can deliver? Tell them that you’d be happy to oblige, and update your proposal to include what they want.
- If their request sounds unreasonable, or involves too much work, or both, tell the client that you will update the scope of proposal based on their preferred rate, and get back to them.
Now, instead of going through this adjustment process, you might be tempted to negotiate. Personally, I never do – when people try to underpay me, it seriously grinds my gears. So I stick to my rate no matter what, or I change the scope to reflect a lower rate.
But it’s my personal preference, and if you’re terrific at negotiating, feel free to ignore the above scenario, and do it on your own terms. More power to you!
- “I’ll think about it.” In a way, this one is worse than price resistance. You want a straight yes or no answer from the client. You don’t want a maybe. Here’s what you can do to deal with that…
- If the client needs more time to think about your proposal, agree on a date to check in with them and get a definite yes or no.
- Ask if there’s anything they aren’t sure about, or if you can clarify anything for them to help them make an informed decision. If they have misgivings, it’s better that you know now. Plus, the more you know, the better you can reassure them.
After addressing your client’s concerns and figuring out the finer points of your proposal, it’s time to do what you do best – do amazing work that knocks their socks off!
Only this time, you will get paid more for your freelance blogging services, the work will be more rewarding, and your client will never look at you as just another freelancer they work with…
Congratulations – You’ve Become Indispensable!
I have shared this five-step process for raising your freelance blogging rate for one important reason. And that reason, as you might be surprised to hear, is not about making more money.
Not really. More money is just proof that you’re doing it right.
What I truly want is for you to become indispensable to your freelance blogging clients. They already like you.
I want them to love you and your work. I want them to see you as their trusted advisor. As the most valuable, knowledgeable, reliable freelancer they will ever work with.
Make it happen, and you will always have as many freelance blogging opportunities as you want. You will never have to explain your rates to anyone. You will never have to worry about competition.
If you would like that, then go ahead and implement this process with your freelance blogging client – and let me know what results you get!
joshua sanvinsky says
thanks for your guidance,i have already downloaded the ultimate list but for now am looking forward for marketing.Already i have written some blogs and published to my site (sanvinsky.wordpress.com) i will be glad if you can assist me for marketing.
Oleg Starko says
Thank you for leaving the comment. By “marketing”, do you mean actually getting blogging jobs? Or something else entirely?
In order for me, or anyone else reading this, to give you any useful advice, you will want to be more specific. 🙂
Thank you so much for this wonderful article. What about if the client you are writing for needs to update their website, how do you go about telling me?
I can write the articles but if the site is dead in terms of still using an outdated version, what do I do?
Oleg Starko says
I’m not sure I understand the question.
If your client’s website is outdated, and you’re in a position to help, or simply refer someone else who might provide that service, you can do that.
But before you do something like that, it’s worth asking — is this actually a real problem for the client? Does it cost them traffic and/or sales? Does it hurt their credibility in real ways (e.g. their biggest competitor has a much better-looking website)?
If the answer is yes, then you can do one of three things:
– If you possess the expertise to help, follow the process described in this post and pitch the service to them.
– If you know someone else who could do it, put your client in touch with them — either for free or for a commission.
– If neither of these are possible, ask your client for permission to give them some free advice, and do that. It won’t pay, but it will prove to the client that you have their best interests at heart.
Emily Jacobs says
This will be good advice for when I actually GET clients, although the first step kind of confuses me. “Step 1. Researching How to Add Value to Your Client.” Shouldn’t that be something you’ve already discussed with the client–what they want to get out of blogging and how you would add value?
Oleg Starko says
Thank you for the comment. That is a great question! Here’s how I usually approach it…
In my experience, most clients know less about blogging / content marketing than you — the person who actually makes a living doing it — does.
So when they initially hire you and give you writing assignments, it rarely goes beyond “write an original, well-researched SEO-friendly post of up to X words”. Unless you’re fortunate enough to work with more sophisticated clients, that’s about as complicated as things get. 🙂
With time, once you’ve studied your client’s brand and gotten comfortable producing high-quality content for them, you will notice a ton of potential value-adds. *And* you’ll have the goodwill built up to step up and offer them.
Just to name a few:
– Only a minority of blogs explore types of content different from typical list posts / how-to posts.
– Very few blogs do content upgrades, or have a well-optimized lead capture process of any kind.
– SEO, for many, is strictly limited to “here’s the keyword, use it X times per post”.
– Most clients are only somewhat aware that guest posting is a thing.
It goes on and on and on — and that’s where the opportunity is. As a freelance blogger, you have a tremendous “knowledge advantage” over your client (most of the time, anyway), and you’re in a unique position to add value to their business beyond what they initially thought.
Does that make sense? 🙂
Yolie Denise says
Wow! So much valuable information. I can’t wait to give it a try.
Oleg Starko says
Thank you so much, Yolie! When you do, please drop me a line at oleg (at) smartfreelancer (dot) net and let me know what you results you got? 🙂
Bravo! What a post. My favorite part is using “disruptive, polarizing content” as one of the suggestions that a competitor wouldn’t try if they wanted to. I’m reading it over a second or 3rd time.
Oleg Starko says
Thank you for the feedback, Joe! If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to me at oleg (at) smartfreelancer (dot) net — I’d love to chat. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing so much knowledge your text helped me a lot
John Gurung | Apt Blogger says
Amazing tips! Thank you for sharing. I am currently writing on my blog in future I want to earn writing blog posts and your tips are going to be super useful.