So don't forget to make your rates — and preferably also your presentation (business cards, website, brochures, online profiles) — reflect the natural progress of your skill and reputation.
If you agree with me at this point, you might as well finish reading here. If you aren't sure, stay on.
Q: But I work so closely with them. I get feedback on all of my translations. I'm required to be available on the phone, sometimes 24/7. I go beyond just translating and always keep their business goals in mind. I know them inside out. I'm a veteran. I'm more of an insider than any new meat with a salaried position. I'm an employee in all but name.
A: Nope, that's not the only difference, You aren't on their promotion track simply because you aren't part of the organization, no matter how closely you collaborate. You can't get promoted if you don't have a rank to begin with. Same goes for a raise.
No, it's not unfair to 'renegotiate'. It would be if you had a fixed-term contract with guaranteed fixed rates, then it would be unfair and illegal to push for a change without their consent. Or a large raise half a year into a long-term (indefinite) contract, that could be bait and switch. But to expect to always pay the same fees the same service would not be reasonable.
Oh sure, some of them will act surprised or hurt or wronged or whatever, but do you expect bread to cost exactly the same day after day for 10 years? Or electricity? Or whatever newspaper you read?
But it's not just inflation.
Remember that while you never get a formal promotion, that's simply because there is nobody to give you one, and hence there isn't any formal process for it, either. But that doesn't mean you don't deserve a raise, and not just because of longevity.
Unlike what agencies may think, career progress is about making more than you did last year or five years ago, not about creating an irresistible price deal for your clients and embracing poverty while translating multi-million-dollar contracts and presentations.