7 negotiation tactics for freelancers

by Leo Wiles
06 June 2014

We recently tackled a question about why job-posters don’t always put rates or salary ranges on their jobs – and today, I’m following up with some negotiation tactics for freelancers who may find it tough to land jobs or gigs.

Ultimately, you can negotiate either the amount of billable hours you work or the rate for which you’ll do them. Before asking what kind of budget they have in mind, there are two fundamental things you need to know: how much to charge / how to figure out your hourly rate (you can check out our blog posts on that here and here) and what the job entails. The latter is particularly important, as agreeing to a job that takes twice as long as you expect halves your hourly rate.

Got those sorted? Let’s start negotiating!

1. Let them know you’re worth it. With hundreds of applicants to go through, it’s important that you state your worth and back it up with examples of similar projects you’ve nailed. You may not be the cheapest option but you’ll prove to be the most valuable.

2. It’s not all about the money. Are there other tangible benefits they can offer to offset the salary? Will the job help you break into a new niche, land a high profile client making you the go to for that industry? Could it allow you to plug your wares with a link to your website, or give you a bread and butter job that pays the mortgage and stops you going grey for a year?

3. Show them the money. Like a good dry cleaner, offer a discount for being paid up front. Not only does it help with any cash flow issues you might be experiencing, it may well sweeten the deal.

4. Know your market value. Negotiating is meant to be about arriving at a fair middle ground therefore check out the competition’s rate sheets to see the going rate so that you don’t price yourself out of the market. If you’re finding them wildly unrealistic or fear they’re a shopfront for Fiver or Overseas sweatshops, then you can always check out our latest survey results.

5. Build a field of dreams. Let them see the value in the fee you’re asking by breaking it down into steps I.E. research, interview, pic search, fact checking, writing, revisions etc. Sometimes a client may not understand all that is required to deliver the best results.

6. Or, ditch the hourly rate and set a flat fee or project rate. I find this tactic particularly useful when the client presumes a job is going to take ten hours (when I know the subject inside out and can turn it around in five).

7. Say it like you just don’t care. There is nothing less attractive to a client than learning you’re surviving on own brand baked beans. Sometimes playing it cool and standing your ground can help you get the gig.

Got tips to share? We’d love to hear how you’ve successfully negotiated a better deal.

Leo Wiles

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