The freelancing business is tough, mostly because of its many variables and possibilities. Some clients will value your services and pay you accordingly, while others will constantly seek to pay less regardless of your work’s quality. Most clients who want to hire a quality creative freelancer seek a win-win cooperation that’ll allow them to get what they crave most.
I’m talking about profit. Obviously, you’re probably aiming for the same result. As a freelancer, your financial circumstances are likely to depend on specific skills like your communications expertise, problem-solving aptitudes, productivity, and, most importantly, negotiation skills.
Knowing how to negotiate your pay rates is a critical factor that’ll establish your profitability throughout your freelancing journey. For this reason, in today’s post I’m sharing several tips and tricks that I learned through a negotiation workshop which will help you improve your odds of landing better payments from your freelancing clients using a few simple, yet effective, negotiation tactics.
1. Establish a Minimum Rate and Never Go Below It
As a respectable freelancer, every negotiation training teaches to always establish and commit to some baseline best practices. You should train yourself to set and maintain a rule for your minimum pay rate, which represents the lowest possible amount that you are willing to accept for your work. In time, you can raise your minimum rate as your professional and negotiation skills improve.
A great tip would be to charge per project instead of billing the hours. This way, you can always scale your income and profits because the possibilities are infinite. It’s even easier to set a minimum acceptable rate as project-based gigs always come with fixed numbers.
2. Mention the Price First and Bid High Yet Reasonably
Even the advanced negotiation skills training in Denver that I attended states loud and clear: “Bet higher than you normally do, so you can slightly lower the price and agree on a deal in your favor.”
Of course, you shouldn’t scare off your clients by bidding extremely high. Everything should be done with moderation and balance, so it’s up to you to decide the maximum bidding price according to objective standards. If you approach using this tactic, make sure that you are the one who mentions the price first, so that your counterpart will listen and follow your negotiation expectations.
3. Discuss Value, Then Money
Many freelancers can’t help but show their desire for money. The first thing they talk about – money.
“My rate is a flat $1000. I am an expert, and I bring results.”
This is how a standard freelancing proposition sounds like. Believe it or not, many freelancers don’t carefully listen to what the client really wants, because they’re only thinking about the benefits they’ll receive.
However, any negotiations class will tell you that the best way to approach a negotiation on your freelancing rates is to create a special rapport with your client and fully understand what he or she wants to obtain.
Here’s a trick that you learn in negotiations seminars. Many freelancers understand the value that they can generally provide to their clients but fail to understand (and leverage) the client’s perceived value. The perceived value of your freelancing client is the result that your client seeks. Most likely, you’ll need to help your client satisfy his needs or solve his problems, regardless of what is involved in doing so. The moment you understand what is requested of you, try to speak in terms of benefits and results. Train yourself to be able to name “what’s in it for the client.” It’s the best way to create rapport, get them to listen to and trust you, and eventually close the deal in your favor.
4. Be Honest with Yourself and with Your Client
You will encounter clients that will be decent to you as long as you’re decent to them. Honesty is a cornerstone of the equation. If you reach an advanced point in a negotiation discussion and you can’t seem to find common ground, you’d better end the discussion with a confident and honest statement.
If you’re being offered less than you’re usually asking, state it loud and clear that your value proposition is worth more than their offer. If you’re thinking of asking for more than you should typically charge, ensure that you can deliver extra value to ensure that your image and reputation stays intact. Be honest and always establish proper expectations!
5. Explain Your Unique Value Proposition and the Potential Benefits
After establishing the price expectations, listen and assess your client’s reaction. Regardless of their emotional state, ensure that they fully understand your unique value proposition. Help your clients acknowledge the wonderful benefits that you can provide and nobody else can, and help them see how lucky they are to work with you. Certain negotiation skills will help you big time, but when it comes to freelancing, presenting a strong value proposition is more important than anything.
The art of negotiation is a widely adopted practice that often separates the winners from the losers. Become a better negotiator and you’ll become a better results-achiever: in almost all of the business circumstances you’ll find yourself in, you will probably have to negotiate. Turning things in your favor, gaining extra profit, or seizing upon promising project opportunities is never easier than when you’ve got your negotiation skills and knowledge as the ace up your sleeve!