Are you negotiating a fair rate? As a freelancer, it is increasingly difficult to charge what you feel you’re worth, particularly in a competitive market where there are a number of freelancers available.
In order to charge a higher rate compared to your peers, there are a few things you need to master, number one being your negotiating skills.
Have you heard this dreaded phrase from a client, “I can get a cheaper price elsewhere.” If you haven’t, you’re lucky. There is nothing more disheartening and soul-destroying than hearing or seeing those words, particularly if you put a lot of time and effort in providing a well thought-out proposal and pitch.
That’s a pretty blunt delivery, so maybe you don’t recognise it… there are many other ways this can be communicated to you:
Oh wow, I wasn’t expecting it to be that much! or The freelancers that we normally work with charge x rate, or my personal favourite, That’s more than we would usually pay, can you breakdown this further into an hourly rate?
Now does it sound more familiar?
There are a few different ways you can handle a response like those above. In my experience, the LEAST effective way is replying immediately with a verbal barrage of why you’re the best and that they can kiss your ass… so, before we talk about how to handle these types of responses, take a moment.
Swear at the computer, roll your eyes, text someone with your indignance, jump up and down — do whatever it takes to get rid of the frustration and anger you’re feeling — you DO NOT want any of these coming across when you speak with the client.
3 Ways For Negotiating a Fair Rate
1. Abandon Ship
This is rarely my first response, and it should be the same for you, particularly if you want to stay in business and be successful. However, this does not mean that you accept bad client behaviour. If any of the following ‘red flags’ present themselves, then I’ll send a polite email saying that I’m busy (never burn bridges!).
- If there is a huge difference between my normal hourly rate and what they are proposing. A little negotiation is normal, but undercutting and undervaluing my rate is not cool. In this instance, I'll definitely send an email politely declining
- If the response to my bid is nasty or offensive. I refuse to work with clients who are not respectful, you should do the same. This type of client will never be nice to work with, don't subject yourself to this under any circumstances
- If they respond with something along the lines of "we can't pay your right away, but we promise to provide you with a lot of exposure!" I don't know about you, but I don't work for free when I've been asked to put forward a proposal!
2. I’m Worth It
It’s not uncommon for clients to query your rate, particularly if they’ve worked with a similar freelancer before but their rate was less than yours. In these situation’s, it helps to have a few ‘canned’ responses up your sleeve so you’re not left scrambling to figure out what to say.
I talk about my turnaround times, my relative experience and expertise, the scope of experience as well as a testimonial or two from long-term or satisfied clients.
If providing testimonials, make sure you can also provide a contact number or email where your potential client can get in touch with them to chat. It’s the old “you get what you pay for” scenario but in a softer way.
Hold firm at your fee. It doesn’t matter what a previous freelancer charged for a similar project, your rates are set in place. If the client can’t afford you, then so be it. Perhaps they’ll be able to in the future. You shouldn’t have to starve to meet their needs — always remember that.
3. Go Long-Term
Always hustling to find new jobs and new clients can be exhausting and because of this, I favour working with clients who’ll commit to a monthly retainer or a set number of articles per month. When this happens, I provide a discount, because working with these types of clients saves me time, and I like to pass the time-savings onto my clients.
Make sure you put this in writing, though. You should always have a contract in place that clearly outlines the agreement, including deliverables, deadlines and payment amounts and dates. Failure to do this can result in lost income for you and very annoyed clients.
The only time I will vary from either of these 3 options is when a project is especially appealing to me, that I would almost do it for free.
Knowing how much you’re worth and what you’ll charge as your minimum also helps navigate these tricky waters.
I’ve previously talked about how to set your rates as a new freelance writer, this same formula I talked about there can be applied to any freelancing business.
Know what your rates are and stick to them and be open to negotiating, but never sell yourself short. Ever.
Have you ever had to have this type of conversation with a client? How did you deal with it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!