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You’ve been charging a client an hourly rate for several years. You love them. They love you. But you just can’t keep the lower rate anymore. The only problem is that they are a significant percentage of your business and you don’t want to risk losing them. What should you do?

First things first, if you’ve followed my content for long, you undoubtedly know that I am a much bigger fan of charging clients based on a fixed price rather than billing by the hour. But that is a topic for another article. In this article, let’s address how to handle the rate increase with some diplomacy.

They Fear Losing You and You Fear Losing Them

If you have been working with a client for an extended period of time, they should be as afraid to lose you as you are to lose them. You know their systems, people, and quality standards. You have a great working relationship with them. If you were to leave, it would likely cause them some hardship. Most clients don’t want that and they would prefer keeping you than going through the hassle of finding another creative person to fill your shoes.

Use This Script to Increase Your Hourly Rate

With these thoughts in mind, never be afraid to discuss your rate with them. I recommend some phrasing like this:

“As you know we’ve been working together for a long time. I love our partnership and it is so great for me. I hope you feel the same. I try to keep my rate as low as I can to keep this going for both of us. In recent years, I’ve been charging $XX to my newer clients, but I still have you at my lower rate of $YY. I don’t want to negatively impact our relationship or your profitability on my work, but would you be open to discussing an increase in my hourly rate? I would like to start charging you $ZZ but only if it works for your business. Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you!”

(Make $ZZ prince somewhere in between $XX and $YY.)

A good client who appreciates the work you provide for them will also appreciate this approach and be open to considering an increase to your rate.

My script above is definitely the diplomatic approach. However, you can increase your rate to whatever amount you choose. It is your business. You set the terms. You don’t have to offer them a mid-priced rate of $ZZ. Feel free to up your rate to $YY. If they can’t make that work for their business, use your time to find clients who will gladly pay your full rate. They are out there and they are looking for a great creative partner like you!

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.