github twitter linkedin hackernews goodreads angellist keybase email pgp rss

How to Charge More?

This is a part of the Consulting Lessons Learned series. Read this as opinionated suggestions from a friend over drinks, not expert advice.

There are many benefits to charging more. You end up with better projects, clients respect you more, you can work fewer hours and travel more and still make more, and so on. You know this. It is every consultant's fantasy.

But how do you do it? Do you simply tell your clients that your rate is now higher? Some consulting celebrities on the internet have made a name for themselves suggesting exactly just that. Perhaps you should do that, but that's not going to work in the long-term after the initial noob gains.

So how can you continue to increase your rate? By increasing your demand. That's it.

This may sound obvious, but I've come to realize that most business advice is bloviating on the obvious. But turns out this is for a good reason. It is obvious that you'll be happier if you slept well, ate better, and exercised more. People don't do seemingly obvious things. At least not until it is presented in a way that clicks for them.

Many consultants obsess about what exactly to say to increase their rate, when they should do it, what is a good rate etc. They worry that if they did try to increase their rate, they'll price themselves out of work, burn bridges with their clients, and end up homeless or a full time employee.

Instead of focusing on increasing your rate, focus on increasing your demand. Higher rate is downstream of higher demand. When you have a number of projects and clients to choose from, you'll be in a position to set the billing rate of your dreams.

You're a great programmer. You're amazing at solving real business problems for your clients. You're productive. You ship. If only prospective clients knew that, they'd be throwing money at you. So how can they know that? How can you increase the likelihood of them finding that out about you? Answer that and you're set.

Here are some ideas to get things going:

  • reach out to people you already know
    • friends
    • colleagues
    • clients
  • meet new people
    • prospective clients
    • other consultants
    • just anyone at all, if only to get better at conversations
  • market yourself at scale
    • create something share-worthy
      • write
      • create an app, preferably webapp for easy sharing
      • combination of both

I plan to expand on these and other ideas in future posts.

What ultimately will work best for you is unknown right now. Accept that. Don't spend a lot of time reading the tea leaves and obsessing about the best path forward. Just do something. Try everything. Roll around in the solution space until something works.