Should you raise your self-employed rates during Christmas?

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The holiday season is often a chance to wind down and spend time with friends and family, especially if clients are also shutting up shop for the festivities. But if you’re contacted about extra work, should you raise your self-employed rates during Christmas? 

There’s no definite correct answer, and much will depend on your individual perspective. And how important the client might be to your business now, and in the future. You’re likely to take a different approach for a one-off project sent over on Christmas Eve for a quick turnaround, compared to something which could lead to a long-term relationship in the New Year.

Keeping the same rates over Christmas

If you’re happy with the amount you currently charge for self-employed work, then there’s no reason to feel pressured into charging extra at Christmas. Especially if you’ve found a good balance between client commitments and family life. 

Assuming you can agree on realistic and achievable deadlines which won’t hurt your festive plans, then charging your normal rate often seems logical and fair. Especially if you’re keen to secure more projects from that client in the future. 


The argument for raising your rates over Christmas

There are some strong reasons to consider charging a higher rate for any work which arrives close to Christmas. 

The first is that the holidays mean many people are feeling swamped with more work to be done under tight deadlines. And this means that you have more leverage when negotiating with clients. If they’re eager to get projects finished before they take time off, then they’re less likely to quibble over a slight increase in your rates.

Businesses may also have additional budgets to spend towards the end of the year. Not only do they often plan for increased expenditure during the holiday season, but if they’ve been cautious with their spending to keep well within their financial plans, there may well be surplus amounts available.


How to pitch your Christmas rates  

If you’re continuing to offer your normal rates and delivery times, then it’s worth highlighting this to clients. It not only means they won’t have unrealistic expectations for deadlines over Christmas, but might also encourage them to come back with more projects in the future.

When you choose to pitch higher rates, it’s important to explain that you’re very busy during the holiday period. So, while you want to help, you’d appreciate a slightly higher price, particularly if the work is being offered at the last minute, and with tight deadlines. And especially if it means you have to change plans, or spend less time with your family as a result.

A suggested premium might be an extra 20% on your usual rate, and if the client says no, you can always go back to your normal fee if you really want or need the project.

It’s important for any freelance or self-employed professional to review the rates they charge on a regular basis. The averages charged in your industry may have changed significantly over the last 12 months, or your costs and commitments may mean you need a higher income to stay profitable. 

The end of the year is a good time to review your business plans, budgets and rates. And you can find more dedicated information on improving your Financial Wellbeing in our Advice section, from chasing late payments, to saving money on software and equipment. 


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Meet the author

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Dan Thornton

Freelance writer, marketer, SEO