ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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“How do I raise my rates without making it awkward?”

In: Communication Skills

Well isn't this the motherloving question of the year.

It gets asked a lot sometime between the stages of that time you started your business and worked for peanuts because you were feeling wildly insecure about your worth and holy bananas I've been doing this for years and I'm still barely making rent even though I work around the clock, my armpits stink, and I haven't seen the outside in days.

You've come to the sobering reality that your rates are embarrassingly low…but you haven't had the guts to raise them just yet. Why? Probably one of the following:

  • I have no idea how to have the conversation with my clients
  • I don't want to seem like a greedy schmuck
  • I don't know how much is too much?
  • I don't have any justification for the price increase
  • Everything feels willy nilly
  • What if I lose clients? I can't afford to lose clients
  • What if nobody ever hires me again at the higher rate?
  • It's too complicated; I'll put this on the back burner for now while I put out 40 other fires

There's just one problem: Your business is ta-ta-tanking in the meantime.

Here's the deal:

Raising your rates is a natural part of doing business—like breathing, only with less moisture. (Or something.)

And even though it feels scary? Your clients are probably wondering why you charge so little.

Every single pricing decision is a statement about your brand. Just the other day, our boat charter company got a call from a prospective client and said, “I like you guys, but…how come you're priced so low? Is there something wrong with the boat?” (We were running a special promo which is why rates were significantly lower than usual.)

The good news? If you've been thinking about raising your rates for a while now, the new year is the perfect time to do it. When I worked in advertising, I'd send clients new rate cards every year like clockwork. It wasn't this big, hairy deal; it was a part of our process.

And that, right there, is the key.

How you present the rate increase to your clients is far more important than the rate increase itself.

If you approach it like you feel bad, the client's going to feel bad about it.
If you approach it like you're sorry, the client's going to feel sorry, too.
If you approach it like it's a big deal, the client's going to think it's a big deal, too.

Your clients feed off of your behavior. When a child skins their knee, do you run up to them and scream bloody murder? Or do you act calm and totally at ease, in order to make the child feel calm and totally at ease? (Not to compare clients to children, but if the shoe fits…wink.)

It's about telling your clients professionally, rather than asking them politely.

This all goes back to managing expectations.

And if you freak out about it / dread the moment / aren't sure if you should / are convinced it's going to go poorly?

Then maybe the first person's expectations you need to politely manage…are your own.

Need more help with this? Check out Unf*ckwithable Words!

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At some point, you’re going to get into a dispute with someone. Maybe it’ll be a client. Maybe it’ll be a friend. Maybe it’ll be your 6th grade math teacher, who, first of all, is actually still alive, and second, who you’ve come to mercilessly hunt down to let her know just how much she […]

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Aug 7

2017

“…Is There Any Movement On The Price?”

Aug 7, 2017

Her name was A. She had funk to her; style. She was a bohemian turned business woman, and a proper English girl, at heart. She was tall, self-assured, and the kind of woman who refreshingly said, “no thanks” without worrying about hurting your feelings. No thanks, I don’t drink. No thanks, I’ve got to get […]

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Aug 23

2017

The One Line Script That Will Help You Raise Your Rates Without Sweating, Swearing or Sounding Like a Greedy, No-Good, Finger-Licking Arse

Aug 23, 2017

When I worked in magazine advertising sales, every year we were sent a copy of the new rate cards from corporate. And every year, we account executives would then proceed to send an email to our clients that would say: “Hey, Janey-babe! Here’s this year’s new rate card for your records.” It wasn’t personal. Nor […]

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Mar 10

2016

Help! My Elevator Pitch is Falling (Seriously) Flat Chested.

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There’s this collective group groan that happens when the words, “elevator pitch” are spoken. (For the record, it sounds like: gggggeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrduuuurrrrrruhhhhhhSPLAT.) In my experience, this is usually for one of three reasons: Someone once insisted that if you’re ever riding in an elevator, you MUST! BE! ABLE! TO! SELL! YOURSELF! BEFORE! THE! NEXT! STOP! (So […]

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Dec 7

2018

Boo-Yah, Time to Raise Your Rates! Here’s a Proven Script You Can Use (That Won’t Even Make It a Little Bit Awkward)

Dec 7, 2018

Haiiiiiiiiii! It’s December, and you know what that means! TIME TO RAISE YOUR RATES. You need to send the following email to your clients RIGHT NOW. (Like, right now. Especially because today is Friday, and this email is always served best on a Friday with a beer.) Now then. *clears throat* This miraculous email that […]

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Dec 11

2018

Taking Time Off for the Holidays but HAVEN’T TOLD YOUR CLIENTS? Here’s a Proven Script You Can Use (That Won’t Put Anyone’s Undies in a Bunch)

Dec 11, 2018

Last week I gave you a savage script for what to say when you want to raise your rates come the New Year—without seeming like a total grabby, greedy, ungrateful weirdo. But guess what? This fun train’s just begun, because this week, YOU GET ANUTHAAA ONEEEE. It’s the middle of December, my friend, and that […]

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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