Hello, {{ subscriber.firstName | default('friend') }}!
In January, I did something I don't think I've ever done in my 9.5 years of freelancing: 
I raised my rate mid-project. 😬
Before I get into the guts of the story, I want to make two things clear:
1. I do not recommend this approach. It felt necessary for me (and I'll explain why), but I am not at all advocating that you do this for all of your projects moving forward. 
2. This was entirely my fault. I should've pumped the brakes and taken more time to clearly think through the scope of work before I accepted the project. 

Okay, with those disclaimers out of the way, here's what happened: At the very end of 2023, I accepted a project from a client I've worked with sporadically. I know them, I like them, I trust them, we've worked together successfully for years, and they've always been happy with the work I deliver.
The project was quite a bit different from the work I typically do. It was essentially a package of stories. It required digging up numerous sources (which proved to be challenging) and completing a lot of interviews—before even getting into the actual writing work. 
When this client pitched me the project, they included a rate. At the time, it seemed like a big number. It was far more than I'd charge for a typical SEO blog post (understandably).  And if I'm being honest with myself, I think I got so googly-eyed at the sight of those digits that I said, “Yep, that sounds great—let's go!” without giving much thought to the actual amount of time and elbow grease I'd need to invest in the project.
You can probably see where this is going…
I wasn't far into the project when I realized that it was a lot more work than I had bargained for. When I had already invested hours upon hours into trying to find sources (and hadn't even touched the actual interviews or writing work yet), I knew that I had done a major “uh-oh” here.
I tried to grit my teeth and stick it out for a while. “This is what I agreed to," I told myself. Or, “It's my own fault.” Or when I was feeling extra delusional, “Maybe when I get through this first part, the rest of the work will fly by and I won't feel so underpaid.”

Welp, that didn't happen. And after pouring more and more hours and energy into this project that spanned months, I faced the harsh reality that I wanted to go back to that client with my tail between my legs and say, “Oops, pay me more, pwease!” (professionally, of course). 
So that's what I did. Here's a look at the email I sent (with a few sections and snippets removed, as to not give away the project or client): 

Hi [Name],
Quick question for you: Is there any room to bump up the rate for this project? 
I know we originally agreed to $XXXX when this was first pitched. But given the time I've already spent sourcing and interviewing (before even writing anything), I readily admit that I didn't think through the scope of this carefully enough.
I want to be clear: I will still complete this project at the agreed-upon rate if necessary. This is not at all a "pay me more or I'm walking" sort of situation. And I'm definitely not in the habit of asking for more money mid-project, so this is new to me. But, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask if there was room in the budget to bump this one up to a place where it feels more fair.
Could you come up to $XXXX for this project? 
Thanks so much!

How did it go? They were super receptive to it. So receptive, in fact, that my contact responded within 20 minutes and said: 

“YES! Let's bump up your rate. This has been so much work and you've done a fabulous job.”

I was so relieved. And while I absolutely can't guarantee the same result for you, I'm happy I asked (despite the fact that I'm probably still way undercharging for the scope of this project).

I guess I can chalk it up as yet another one of those freelance lessons that's learned the hard way. There are a lot of those, aren't there? 😉
My Monthly Business Snapshot:
If you've been around for a while, you might notice that this is a new section! Now that I've switched the newsletter to monthly, I wanted a spot where I could share other freelance tidbits, experiences, and anecdotes that I thought were interesting—but maybe not worthy of the meat of the newsletter.

And, since a lot of the feedback I get is that people love my personal stories and transparent looks at my business, I thought it'd also be a good place to share a candid look at how the previous month went for me. 
  • Total invoiced in January: $8,200 (not my best month but also not my worst—here's hopin' things pick up as 2024 keeps rollin'! 🤞🏻)
  • Number of clients I worked with: 6
  • Total days worked: 11 (Oof. It was a way shorter month than anticipated given the holiday at the start, taking a day off for my son's birthday, and then taking almost an entire week to travel for a family funeral. When I only work Monday through Wednesday on a normal week, those unexpected interruptions really shorten my time. So, seeing this number, I guess I should feel pretty great about what I managed to earn.)
  • Speaking of traveling for a funeral, it inspired me to share some thoughts about freelancing and flexibility on LinkedIn.
  • January got off to a super rough and rocky start when I lost TWO of my favorite, recurring clients. On the same day. Within hours of each other. It was a gut punch. 
  • Fortunately, I also accepted a new retainer client and that work will start up in the next few weeks. So, I'm excited to see how that goes!
  • January seemed to be the month of “different” projects. I ended up working on a content repository (it's a spreadsheet of all existing content) for one of my clients. It was tedious data entry, but it was honestly a nice break from constant writing work. Plus, it was an encouraging reminder that there are other content-adjacent services I can provide. 
  • I recorded a guest lecture for a local college all about freelancing. That was fun!
  • I've done a few new client discovery calls at the start of February and am crossing my fingers some of those pan out. If you need some tips for your own chats with potential clients, I shared some of those on LinkedIn
  • Oh, and one more LinkedIn thing. I went semi-viral there this week (here's the post) and it reiterated what I already know to be true: going viral is almost always more overwhelming than fun. 
Interesting Reads and Resources This Week:
Here are a few things I sunk my teeth into these past few days. If you're looking for some advice or commiseration, go ahead and give these a peek!
Noteworthy Freelance Writing Gigs:
Looking for some new freelance writing gigs and opportunities? You're in luck, because I've rounded some up for you.
Not a fit for any of these gigs or opportunities? Get out there and proactively pitch the outlets you're interested in. You can do it—I promise. Here's what you need to know and here are some templates to help.
Non-Writing Freelance Gigs:
I don't just show love to the writers. Here are some non-writing freelance gigs you can check out. 
Find More Tips, Tools, and Resources:
Want to know where else you can find me and learn from me? I've got you covered. 
Whew! Okay. This was a long one. I guess that's what happens when I only pop by monthly—I have a lot to say. 😅

I hope you have a wonderful and restful weekend and I'll see you back here in a month-ish or so. 
In the meantime, happy freelancing! ❤️
Image item
Image item