For some clients, your rates will be too expensive. These clients may need to go somewhere else, and you might even suggest someone to whom they can go.
If you decide to accept a job below your rates, do so for the right reasons. You might want to cover some downtime, really like the client or the project, or see it as an inroad with a promising client that may bring you a lot of work down the line. You might decide to donate some of your services. My business counselor has what he calls a “tithe” client—one person in his client base who otherwise cannot afford him, but to whom he donates his services.
Recently, a copy editor did a job for someone at half his going rate. He did so because of the client’s passion for what they were trying to accomplish. He wanted to help that person succeed.
If you do quality work, people will almost always be happy to pay you what you are worth. If they aren’t, then you don’t want them as a client. But in order to earn the rate you are worth, you must learn to get the message out of your mouth.
When I first went into business, I charged a set amount per hour. I knew it was low, but I was building my business from the bottom up. After getting established, I allowed my rates to rise to the going market rate. But for my clients who came aboard in my early years, I continued to bill them at the lower rate for some time. I figured they had helped me to get started, and it was a way to pay them back.
At long last, I decided to have all my clients pay the same rate. I sent out a letter to my old clients telling them that I had to raise their rates to be in conformity with everyone else. I agonized over the letter. I knew that it was a steep increase for many of them.
I was rewarded with a pleasant surprise. I got back a stack of responses in the mail. Overwhelmingly, they said, “It’s about time. I support your decision completely.”
Two clients told me they were unable to afford the increase. One called me and said, quite emotionally, just how much she appreciated my work. She sincerely thanked me for the help I had given her. She told me she just couldn’t afford the higher rates.
I decided to work out a deal with her. I could find a way to make room for anyone who would call and thank me in such a sincere way.
There is nothing wrong with charging what you are worth. There is nothing wrong with charging what the market will bear. It is what people expect you to do. Usually, the only obstacle is your recognition of your own true worth.