Whether you’re a copywriter, a scriptwriter, or even a one-man explainer video service, all freelancers have one challenge in common: setting a reasonable rate.
Figuring out freelance rates takes forethought.
Set it way too low, then the income you get doesn’t even justify the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve spent on projects. Meanwhile, putting a ridiculously high price is a quick way to turn off your potential clients.
Now, the question that is on everyone’s lips is: How can a freelancer negotiate freelance rates without burning bridges?
Luckily, we have some best practices for making sure you get what you ask for.
How to Negotiate Freelance Rates Like a Pro
Being a great freelancer is so much more than completing a project timely.
You also need negotiation skills to get a heart set on a dollar figure.
Here are what you can do to get the right rate.
1. Know your worth
Before you start throwing around numbers, it’s important to know the going rate in your industry.
Once you figure out the average, you can start to understand where you fit in. To do solid research, you can use:
- Freelance marketplaces: Sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.com will reveal a ton of information on what others in your field are charging. Find freelancers that have the same quality as you and see how much they charge for their service. Indeed shares average freelance rates, which you can use as a benchmark.
- Advice from colleagues: If you’re not sure what to charge, ask around and see what your colleagues in your field are making.
- Online forums: While you shouldn’t put too much stock in what strangers say online, browsing through forums related to your industry can give you a sense of what others are charging.
Your years of experience play a role in how much you can charge.
A newbie freelancer tends to focus on building a portfolio, so they can have a harder time asking for top rates than someone who’s been working in the industry for a while.
Remember, you’re selling your time, experience, and expertise, so you should be compensated accordingly.
2. Get clients to name a price
After you’ve done your research, you should have a good idea of what to charge. But, it’s always best not to give clients a specific number right away.
Once you start working with clients, you’ll quickly realize that everyone has a different budget and projects.
Some clients are willing to spend top dollar, while others are working with a shoestring budget. It’s important to understand what a client is willing to spend before you start negotiating rates. Otherwise, you might price yourself out of a job.
It’s crucial to understand the scope of the project as well. How big or small is it? How much time will it take you to complete?
The easiest way to figure out a client’s budget is to ask them directly.
Encourage them to say the price they can pay, so you know whether it’s in the ballpark of what you were hoping to charge. If not, you can explain your rates and why you’re worth your quoted price.
3. Give yourself room to maneuver
When you first start working with a client, it’s best to give yourself some room to negotiate. This way, you can work with the client to find a price that works for both of you.
If a client asks you for a specific number, give them a range instead of a hard number. This way, you have some wiggle room to negotiate.
Remember that no matter how well you’ve researched your rates or how much experience you have, you won’t always get the rate you want. In some cases, you might have to compromise to land the job.
If a client is only willing to pay a certain amount, see if there are other ways to make the deal work.
For example, you can negotiate for a higher rate on future projects or ask for extra perks, like paid vacation days or a stipend for travel expenses.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money
You’re providing a valuable service, and you deserve to be compensated fairly. If you don’t ask for what you’re worth, you’ll never get it.
It can be tough to negotiate rates, especially if you’re just starting out. But, don’t be afraid to increase the initial price if you have to. The worst that can happen is if the client says no.
When do you know it’s okay to set a higher cost for a project?
- When the deadline is tight: If clients need the project done quickly, they’ll be more likely to pay a higher rate.
- When you have more experience: When you have more experience or specialize in a certain area, you can charge more for your services.
- When the project is complex: If a project is very complex or requires a lot of work, you can charge more.
5. Seek a mutually agreeable compromise
After all, negotiating means that there should be a win-win outcome for both parties. In other words, a compromise should be reached so that both you and the client are happy with the agreement.
This doesn’t mean that you should always give in to a client’s demands. But, try to see where they’re coming from and their needs.
If you can find a middle ground, you’ll be more likely to get the job and have a satisfied client.
Communication is key for seeking a mutually agreeable compromise. Besides the skills for your field, you also need to master communication skills.
It turns out, 71% of fellow freelancers agree that it’s the number one soft skill freelancers should have, especially for negotiating rates.
What to Do As Your Freelance Business Grows
A perfect freelance rate isn’t written in stone. So, there are no one-size-fits-all freelance rates. You can make adjustments as your freelance business grows and the demand for your services changes.
To keep your rates competitive, you should do the following. But doing so, you make it easier to negotiate freelance rates.
Review your rates regularly
As a freelancer, it’s important to keep an eye on industry trends and the going rates for your services. By frequently reviewing your rates, you can make sure you’re not charging too little or too much.
Raise your rates gradually
If you’re undercharging for your services, it might be time to raise your freelance rates.
But, don’t make drastic changes all at once. Instead, raise your rates gradually over time. This will help you avoid scaring off potential clients.
Offer discounts for repeat clients
If you have a client who continually comes back to you for work, you can offer them a discount.
This is a great way to show your appreciation for their loyalty and build a long-lasting relationship– which can lead to positive reputations, enhanced portfolios, and even the longevity of the business.
The stat shows that 91% of freelancers find new gigs from word of mouth or referrals, mostly from their past clients.
That’s what makes nurturing relationships with your clients is more essential than you might think.
Consider value-based pricing
When you first start out, it can be helpful to charge hourly rates. But, as you gain more experience, you might want to consider value-based pricing.
With this method, you charge based on the value you bring to the client, rather than the time it takes to complete a project.
With value-based pricing, you’re paid based on the results you deliver, rather than the time it takes to do the work.
Over to You
Both freelancers and clients should remember that negotiation is a process where both parties should find the best outcome.
It can take some time to come to an agreement, but it’s important to keep communication open. By following these tips, you’ll find it simpler to set and negotiate freelance rates.
About the author
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
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