When you have enough customers, you can raise the price for new customers – and consider doing it for existing ones. That has to be the short answer.
You should never raise the price for existing customers without dialogue and a clear agreement. Customers like as few surprises as possible – especially when it comes to budget. Also, remember to do it in a very proper and polite way - especially if they are some of your first customers who have been with you through thick and thin.
Having said that, a price increase will (almost) always lead to a weeding out of customers, as not everyone is equally elastic in relation to price. You must therefore have settled with yourself how you will handle the inevitable rejection that will come with a price increase.
A dialogue about the hourly rate can take place on e.g. this way:
"Dear [name of customer]
I have been, and still am, happy to work for you, and you know that I greatly appreciate the fact that you have chosen and continue to choose me as a supplier.
When you brought me in, we started at an hourly rate, appropriate for my level at the time. Since I started, I have developed a lot and, among other things, helped you achieve XYZ.
A natural development in the market as well as an increased level of competence on my part means that my price per xx increases from current XX to XX +10%.
If this price regulation puts an end to our cooperation, I am open to a dialogue about your specific needs, and can most likely point you in the direction of a specialist who delivers at a lower budget.
Of course, I hope to continue the collaboration and continue to help you get closer to your goals in the future.”
This approach achieves several things:
- You praise your customer and emphasize that you appreciate the collaboration.
- You also draw a line in the sand and draw a comparison between your old and your new professional self.
- You announce a price increase so that your customer does not experience unexpected surprises.
- You have your customer's best interests in mind. Want a lower quality, you can help them further. If that is the case, your paths were doomed to part anyway.