negotiating rates

Contractor Rates: When Should They Increase?

Every freelancer knows that being a successful contract worker requires wearing numerous hats: project manager, marketer, C-suite executive. For many freelancers, the most awkward fit among them is that of a human resources professional and, especially, determining when to increase contractor rates. 

That’s because the HR gig comes with a task for which most freelancers are woefully untrained: raising their rates. Determining your pay scale can be difficult enough – “Have I accounted for cost of living?” “Am I selling myself short? Asking too much?” – but deciding when (and sometimes for whom) to recalibrate that scale feels like a bridge too far for many contract workers.

In the end, the freelance world is a marketplace dictated by supply, demand, region and industry. Generally speaking, there are no hard-and-fast rules for when or where to set contractor rates, no matter your field. But here are a few tips that may help:

Ask around. Many of your colleagues and peers are willing to share their rates. Even if it’s too much to ask when they got a bump, you can compare roles, experience and expertise to help land on a scale that suits your own profile.

Check the web. A quick browser search can lead you down a rabbit hole of recommendations that likely will offer some ideas about what a person at your level (entry, intermediate, senior) and in your field should be making. This blog, too, offers contractors best practices on how to grow their professional profile and advance their careers, all of which should add up to earning more money.

Be aggressive. Generally speaking, we’re all prone to self-doubt and concerns about pestering the wrong people. “Am I worth as much as I think?” “Is it too soon to ask for a raise?” But it isn’t unreasonable to ask for an adjustment to contractor rates once every year or two. Most companies expect it, and the old adage holds true: the worst they can do is say no.

Beyond those broad recommendations, freelancers have other options – namely, a talent cloud. It’s beneficial for contract workers to be part of a larger ecosystem that not only connects you with employers but helps prove your worth to them, with none of the uncomfortable self-promotional conversations required.

Joining a talent cloud such as PeopleCaddie makes it easy for employers to find you, rate your performance and help you build a profile that will attract future employers. In the gig economy, a contractor needs to be part of the developing marketplace for talent. A talent cloud puts you firmly in the mix.

And because they relieve key pain points for hiring managers, being part of a talent cloud will likely only become more important over time. Rather than having to post a job ad, fumble through a pile of resumes, interview candidates and call multiple references for each, a talent cloud is a plug-and-play option that companies can trust to connect them with the right contract worker. Maybe even you.

Once a freelancer has established a body of work, the employers they’ve contracted with can rate them to help burnish your reputation. Companies will know your worth – and you will, too. Your credibility, as well as your experience, will grow over time, putting you in high demand on the platform. With employers lining up for your services, you’ll be less inclined to shy away from asking for a higher rate. You may just ask yourself why you didn’t ask for a larger raise sooner!

Want to get a sense of the contractor market? Check out PeopleCaddie’s jobs page.

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