Putting Up Prices Not Fences

Putting Up Prices Not Fences

Money is one of the reasons why people freelance. When the work is there, the rates can be excellent. So money is going to be a prime concern when it comes to renewing contracts with clients.

New terms time

It's always slightly awkward to renegotiate a contract with an existing client. It's particularly difficult when this is your biggest and oldest client. The client that's so lasting, in fact, that the rates you've been charging him all this time are now well out of date. You'd never dream of charging so little to new clients these days. But how do you tell him that you're raising your fee by what might seem to him a huge and perhaps cheeky leap?

Business is business

You don't want to offend or alienate your most loyal source of business. Your personal relationship with him is important and it's largely this rapport that's kept the partnership going so long. But, while good personal relations are a valuable element of any consulting arrangement, the health and prosperity of your business must be your bottom line.

If you're the kind of person who's afraid to even barter at a rip-off tourist flea market while holidaying where haggling is quite the custom, you might have some trouble asking a long time supplier of work for more of his cash.

So how to renew a contract without squirming in your skin or burning bridges you can't afford to char?

For starters, you don't simply ask for more money without good reason. You need to give a rationale for increasing your fee.

You're underrated

Higher expenses and overheads are perfectly good grounds. You could be renting extra office space, hiring new personnel or undergoing the latest training course in order to develop your own professional skills, all of which directly or indirectly help to improve the service you are offering your client.

Rather than simply increase your daily or per project rate, however, you could restructure your charges. This might mean asking for mileage reimbursement, if a client requires you to travel to his office, or charging for time spent at client meetings, if you didn't do so before.

Intellectually speaking

Aside from increasing your price for actual hours devoted to a client or project, you can sometimes renegotiate your intellectual capital rights. Quite often, freelancers, either knowingly or unknowingly, sign an agreement to give away all rights to the intellectual assets they create. Looking back, this might be imprudent, but it's by no means irreversible. Consider renegotiating the intellectual property terms of your agreement.

Whether it's a clever software code, a slick art design or a brilliant copy line, you might produce work for a client that you recognise to have commercial value beyond the company's specific needs. It's worth asking the client to deed that intellectual property back to you, especially if it's something he will never use in the future. Satisfied with the results of the project at hand, he may not want to go to the trouble of realising the additional value you have created.

You may also think about asking for royalties on uses of future works created while you're under contract.

Intellectual rights are a complex issue so, if you're unsure about the ins and outs, consult a lawyer before approaching your client.

Speak up

At the end of the day, when it comes to wanting more money, you've simply got to ask. You never know, your client might be anticipating your broaching the subject, bemused that he's still enjoying your services for what he knows are sub-market rates and wondering why it's taken you so long to get around to the question.