I just finished a huge proofreading job for a legal publisher. I returned the chapters in batches. My client praised my work, emphasizing my attention to detail and my thoroughness. Now why don't I have the nerve to ask for a raise or to inform them what my new rates are? I know I need to work on being more assertive and proactive in my freelance business.
Here's how it should be done:
About every year or so, you should evaluate your rates to see if they are keeping up with the industry standard.
The Editorial Freelancers Association has posted "Common Rates for Editorial Services," which includes type of work (such as copyediting, proofreading, indexing, research, and writing, among others). A range of fees is included based on a certain pace of work. For example, you can charge $20-35 per hour for proofreading 3-10 manuscript pages per hour.
Taking the proofreading example a little further, there are different types of proofreading--on hardcopy (proofreading page proofs against a manuscript) or electronically (using Adobe Professional). There are different levels of text (basic or technical). Your rate can vary from client to client. The assignment can range from proofreading a young adult novel to a physics textbook with equations. Your rates would be different for these two types of jobs.
As you get new clients, you would give them your new rate. They don't have to know that it's a new rate. For your existing clients, at some point (beginning of new year perhaps) you would inform them of your new rate (like when you accept a new assignment). You can tell them what you've done for them on previous jobs that they've appreciated. You can always negotiate. Now I just need the guts to ask!
As I was writing this draft, I got some good news! My biggest client (the legal publisher) just contacted me and stated they're giving me a raise! They said that I was "long overdue" and that it would be an "incentive" to take on additional assignments. Of course things don't usually happen this way. I was lucky with this client. How do you increase your rates?