The last quarter has been a renaissance in the world of pricing, strategy, and gaining confidence.
Being on your own can be intimidating. Sometimes you want to throw in the towel and take any job that writes you back. But, that would be a mistake. Not only because it devalues your work in your own eyes, but also because it puts you in a constant state of emergency. Clients can smell desperation… and they don’t want the stink on them, either.
Here’s the new script you need to have in your head in order to confidently negotiate your freelance rate:
Ask for What You’re Worth
Everyone has a budget, the hiring team and those that would be hired. When you begin negotiations, you’ll try to hit their upper limit, and they’ll try to hit your lower limit. The space in between is where negotiation comes in.
If you get an offer that’s slightly lower than what you’d like, say so. Say it politely, and with respect to their program, but don’t be silent when it comes to your quality of life. Here’s a mini script you can customize to fit your situation:
Thanks so much for considering me for this project. However, the rate you’ve quoted is significantly lower than I was expecting.
Because of the quality of my [product or skill] and my consistent delivery, I charge closer to [Perfect Number] per project. Is there any room in your budget to meet in the middle at [Better Number]? If not, I’m afraid I’ll need to pass on this opportunity.
There is always (or at least there should always be) room in the budget for reliable, high-quality [whatever you do]. That’s a fact.
Have the Savings to Back It Up
The caveat to asking for what you’re worth is accepting that some people aren’t interested in paying it. If you ask for more, you may not get the gig. If that makes or breaks your budget, you will need to be more careful about the jobs you turn down (or maybe even more honest about your bottom line). What will make you the most comfortable and confident is having a healthy savings account to rely on.
I have accepted low-paying writing gigs as favors or to make it through if I particularly like the product or the team. But I’ve also turned down work that didn’t reimburse me fairly for my time. Sometimes I decline politely without a reason, and sometimes I’ve shared phrases like the following:
Thanks so much for your interest in working with me! Unfortunately, I can’t meet that rate. In order to stay in business, I need to keep a minimum rate of [Minimum Rate] per post.
I appreciate your interest, but I will have to decline this opportunity. Thanks so much for thinking of me, and I do hope we can work together in the future!
It’s amazing how persistent some people can be — acknowledging at the same time that 1) You’re great at what you do and they really want to work with you, but 2) They can’t or won’t pay more than an extremely low rate. (You’d think those two thoughts couldn’t exist at the same time….). But that’s the lay of the land, and it’s helpful to remember it when you’re negotiating.