How to Negotiate Rates as a Freelancer
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
A conundrum for freelancers is negotiating a livable rate for your work when companies can go elsewhere and find very cheap labor on freelance marketplace sites.
If you're thinking of decreasing your rates to compete with people who charge a few dollars per hour, here's what you need to remember: There may be an abundance of low-cost freelancers out there, but good help is hard to find.
I've been freelancing full-time for a little over three years. I just recently started hiring other freelancers as my business grows to help with some of the workload. It's been more difficult than I ever imagined to find quality help.
Now that I wear both hats, from a client perspective, I've learned a few lessons on where freelancers can provide value to backup a higher price point.
If you pitch a price to a prospective client and they ask why you charge more in comparison to others, here are a few areas you can sell them on.
Sell them dependability.
Completing your work by the due date (or earlier) would be in Freelance 101 if there was a college course on the topic, yet finding dependable freelancers can be very challenging.
I hire freelancers to make my life easier. I've had multiple low-cost freelancers tell me at the last minute they couldn't complete an assignment by the agreed upon time. The worst part is their inability to meet a deadline impacted my own workload and deadlines. Clearly, this did not make my life easier.
I learned the hard way that a diligent worker comes with a higher price tag. Needless to say, I won't be hiring those freelancers again.
Dependability is a simple area where you can provide value. You can explain how meeting all deadlines will benefit your prospective client in negotiation.
If you're a freelance website designer, it means they'll be able to launch their brand spanking new website on time.
If you're a freelance writer, it could mean they'll always get their weekly email blast and blog content on Mondays at 10 a.m. sharp.
A client that's outsourcing to lighten their workload will appreciate that they can pass tasks on to you without needing to micromanage.
Sell them responsiveness.
The biggest mistake you can make when setting and negotiating freelance rates is operating with the mindset that the final product is the only thing you're selling.
In actuality, freelancers are selling an entire service package which can include communicating, generating ideas, responding to feedback, and more.
Answering client calls faithfully and responding to emails within a few hours is a huge convenience you can mention to substantiate your higher price point.
Make the client "courting" process as streamlined as possible to showcase your responsiveness and efficiency with logistics. Send proposals promptly and follow up with answers to questions quickly.
I've contacted many freelancers for help and response time to the initial inquiry is a good indicator for me on how they do business.
If they take a long time to answer when I have my hand in my wallet ready to give them money, I can only imagine how long it will take for them to respond after they've been paid to do the work.
Sell them your brain.
Not literally your brain, but your expertise. If you hire someone that doesn't charge much for their freelance services, there's a good chance they're going to do the bare minimum that's asked of them. To be blunt, you get what you pay for.
I've hired freelancers to do tasks before such as editing. When I looked at the adjustments made after getting back the assignment, I found only three or four minor changes when the expectation was to do a much heavier edit. I paid for their effort, but had to go back in and redo the work.
Let your prospect know they can completely hand over a task to you and you'll own it. You can even offer to use your expertise to make suggestions in ways they can improve whatever project they have you working on.
A freelancer who has cheaper rates than you may be able to execute vanilla, but you're giving the vanilla sundae with a juicy cherry on top. This is valuable.
Take it from me, clients are willing to pay someone more money for extra bells and whistles. You just have to lay out how it benefits them if they're unaware of what a difference in service quality means.
Sell them connections.
It takes time to build up a portfolio and connections, but once you do, the people you've worked with in the past and the people you work with now can backup your higher freelance rate.
Having your own following is beneficial for writing clients because if you write for them and share their content it gets seen and shared by more people.
Use your connections in high places and your following as negotiating points. For example, you can mention that articles you write can be amplified to an audience of 10,000 followers. In this case, you have more to offer than someone else with less clout who can do the same job for a lower price.
To be honest, I've always been a freelancer who was timid when it comes to talking money. I was too nervous to raise my freelance rates until I started getting feedback from clients that it was difficult to find other freelancers as reliable as me.
I see what they're talking about with my own eyes now that I'm a client who hires freelancers. I'm much more confident in sticking to my rates because I know what I do is greater in value than what someone can do for a few bucks.
Don't shy away from explaining your worth and why you charge more than competition.
If you're a high quality service provider, clients who have the right budget will fork over good money to someone who's dependable, responsive and makes their job a whole lot easier.
(By Taylor Gordon)