When to Ask For a Salary Increase as a Freelance Digital Business Manager

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Alright – asking for raises as a freelancer – some of us love it and some would rather dissolve into a puddle of goo before daring to ask for a raise.

In the past 5 years as a freelance digital business manager, I’ve asked for raises a lot of times and I have very luckily – not once been rejected

This is part 1 of a 2 part series – where I’ll share why you should be asking for raises, when to ask for raises and how much to ask for.

Part 2 is where I’ll break down what to prepare for a salary increase chat, how to ask for the raise itself, and some of my tips for raising rates as freelancers. 

Why You Should 100% Be Asking for Raises

The first thing to accept is that asking for raises is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

Everyone should do be doing this. Obviously not all the time – but in predefined intervals. 

You should 100% be getting raises.

Talking about raises isn’t a controversial concept that you’re bringing to the table to discuss with a client. A client is not going to say, “How dare she? Fire her for even daring to ask for a raise! The audacity.

That’s not going to happen. 

If that happens… you should be glad to be rid of that strange client.

Here are 4 reasons why you should 100% be regularly asking for raises with your freelance clients if your clients are not giving them to you automatically already.

Reason #1: You’re probably under-priced.

Most people underprice when they get started – they charge too low either because they’re lacking experience on the pricing ranges or they’re pricing low strategically to get their foot in the door and land a few clients.

We suggest doing your research and looking at the current market – ask in online communities you’re a part of and check out what on average someone is paid for a role like yours.

Freelancing Females has a great freelance rate table as well where women in the industry self-report how much they’re charging for specific responsibilities and years of experience and you can check your rates against the market.

Reason #2: Inflation

Inflation is a real thingraises account for inflation and the fact that the cost of everything increases year over year.

The annual inflation rate in the U.S. in January 2021 was 7.5%. Inflation decreases the purchasing power of your currency and the average price level of goods and services increases.

So a basket of predefined goods that cost $100 last year would cost $107.50 this year aka you need more and more money to pay for the same items year after year.

This is why yearly salary reviews are often implemented in corporate – and with freelancing as a digital business manager, you have to implement those reviews yourself.

Reason #3: You’re growing fast.

You’re growing and developing – that’s why we’re always saying invest in yourself as your asset because if you invest in your growth and potential, you have something VERY concrete to bring to the table when asking for a salary raise.

And chances are as a freelance digital business manager, you are learning and absorbing WAY more – working behind the scenes with tons of clients in different industries, bringing strategies to the table, developing new skills constantly because your clients challenge you constantly and you’re trying to figure things out and teaching yourself as you go.

Scope with a client can scale so much even in just 6 months as clients start to get you more work, higher-level work, and essentially promote you secretly without the paycheck reevaluationthat is why having a defined scope of work is so important.

The more value you’re bringing to the table = the higher rates you deserve.

Don’t forget to account for your growth.

Reason #4: Raises are incredibly motivating and push you to grow and work harder for clients.

This is a legit reason – have you ever been really demotivated overtime working for a client because they’re paying you super poorly?

It sucks – it feels really frustrating because it feels like your work isn’t really valued. 

That is why asking for raises so that you’re paid fairly for your work can be super helpful to give you that little boost or surge of motivation to prioritize a client again.

When to Talk About a Raise as a Freelancer

In our experience there is this ‘one year rule‘ – basically you can ask for a raise once a year. It originates from corporate because they do yearly performance reviews tied to salary reevaluations.

However – I think there are exceptions to that rule in the freelancing world.

For example: When I started as a freelancer, I charged $10/hr which was pretty underpriced also because I started increasing my skillset quite quickly and moved into a digital business manager role very fast for my clients – which is a higher-level task that you should be charging more than $10/hr for.

So in my case, I raised my rates quite fast in the first year – I was having salary chats with clients at the 6 month mark regularly because I was so underpriced – and my clients knew it too.

Then once I got to a rate I was comfortable with for my skillset (around $35 – $45/hr), I then reverted to rate chats every 12 months.

I would do every 12 months as a default – with the exceptions of if you’re heavily underpriced compared to the market and competitors or your scope/job description has changed in the past few months. 

Sometimes I talk to Virtual Assistants whose scopes have completely changed into the role of a Digital Business manager but they’re still being paid at a VA’s rates. 

That’s not in line with the market.

Do 12 months unless something is really wonky for you compared to the current market.

If you’re ready to scale your rates and your skills and move into a higher-level digital business manager role, you can find out exactly how to do that here in my free masterclass:

Want ALL the details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a DBM does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

4 Things to Consider When Asking for a Salary Raise as a Freelancer

So this is a tricky question – it will depend on a few things:

1. 🏆 The Competition – look at competitor research to figure out how underpriced you are. 

You need to understand the context of your competitorshow easy would it be for a client to replace you with someone just as high quality as you? 

Would it take them a long time to replace you – to find someone of your unique blend of skillset and experience? 

Would it be super annoying and frustrating for them to have to retrain someone?

2. 🛒 The Market – what’s happening in the market? 

What’s the demand/supply ratio like? 

For example, I think as time goes on, the demand for digital business managers is going to scale quickly because every business that wants to scale past 6 figures needs a Digital Business Manager – but the supply of good DBMs is still low. 

So that’s a high demand/low supply ratio.

3. 🙂 YouYou need to look at your unique blend of skillset – look at your work with the client and the ROI they’re getting off of your work and contribution.

4. 📈 Your Client’s Awareness Level – AND sometimes we forget – we need to know how aware of all of this is your client? 

Do they know what a good thing they’ve got going for them? 

Are they telling you things like ‘omg you’re a life saver‘ and ‘I couldn’t run my business without you‘ and ‘Hiring you was the best decision ever?’

If yes, then chances are they’re aware of how lucky they are and willing to pay you more.

How Much to Ask For in a Salary Raise as a Freelancer

When I was charging $10/hr, I was underpriced considering the market and level of work I was doing for clients – I think realistically I probably should’ve been charging around $20 – 25/hr. 

But you can’t go to a client and say ‘hey, my rates are increasing from $10 to $20’ – that’s more than 2x – right?

You have to go slow and approach it tactfully otherwise it’s a bit ridiculous and unfair to your client.

In the first year, I was doing rate raises with my clients every 6 months and increasing by $3 to $5/hr at a time. 

Then once my rates were more in line with what I should’ve been charging and what the market said was correct – then I lowered my rate increases to around $2-3/hr.

In corporate, the average annual raises are around 3-5%.

In my experience, I can normally get more as a freelancer in my salary reevaluations but that 3-5% can give you a rough base benchmark of what is by far the acceptable standard in bigger companies.

If you’re looking for help on how to ask for the salary reevaluation itself, what to prepare for a salary reevaluation chat plus some tips I’ve learned along the way then make sure to check out part 2

Check out our Youtube channel for more freelance and digital business management tips:  

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And, If this helps you ask for a raise, let me know here in the comments because I want to cheer you on in your journey to scaling your income as a freelancer.

Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

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Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!