Heading into a salary discussion with your manager? Read this first.

Knowing how to ask for a raise is important considering the inherent trickiness of initiating a compensation-related conversation. The key is to be prepared! Take the time to build a strong case and be ready to sway any doubts your boss may have. Here are four tips to help you do just that.

1. Know the best time to ask

Timing is everything when it comes to asking for a raise. Often, a good time to broach the subject is just after your annual performance review. Sitting down with your manager and reviewing all your recent accomplishments will reinforce the value you bring to the company and help justify your request for a raise. Another opportune time is after a big win. Did you land the agency a new account? Did you exceed results on your latest marketing or social media campaign? At these times, it can be clear to your employer that you are worth the additional pay.

Before you ask, it also behooves you to research your company's performance. As you might suspect, the best time to ask is when the company is doing well. Finally, never spring the topic on your boss. Schedule a time to discuss the potential for a raise so he or she can be equally prepared for the conversation.

2. Have solid reasons for requesting a raise

Wanting more money so you can travel, buy new clothes or pay off student loans will not go over well with your employer. Arm yourself with concrete examples of why you merit a higher salary – i.e., how your actions have benefitted the company and what the results of your efforts are. If you can prove your impact on the business's bottom line, the conversation will go much smoother.

3. Know what you're worth

Your skills and experience have value in the open hiring market. To find out how much your peers are pulling in, read industry publications such as the Robert Half Salary Guide, or consult recruiters and colleagues in your field. This information will help you gauge how much extra pay you might deserve.

4. If money isn't an option, what else can you negotiate?

After you make a solid argument for a raise, your manger may still say, "We don’t have the money right now."

Don't be disheartened if this happens – the conversation doesn't need to end if you have a back-up plan. Consider asking for additional benefits that don’t require a budget, such as a flexible working arrangement, additional vacation days or professional development opportunities.

Knowing how to ask for a raise can benefit creative professionals at every level of their career. Getting organized ahead of time can help you put your best foot forward and confidently ask for the compensation increase you deserve.

Use the Salary Guide to quickly determine the average starting creative and marketing salaries in your city.