A few weeks ago, I sent a pitch to a freelance writing client I was excited to work with. A few days went by and I didn’t hear anything. Then, I received the highly anticipated response email that went something like this.
After a careful review of your application and pitch, I’m sorry to say that your rate expectations don’t match the amount that our budget allows.
I did like both your sample and outline. So I would like to know if you are open to negotiating your rate. At this time, I can offer up to $______. I also believe COMPANY NAME can consistently provide you with work on a weekly basis, should we reach an agreement.
If that doesn’t work out for you, I understand. We’ll keep you on file and reach out again in the future when we have a bigger budget and are in need of new writers.
I look forward to hearing from you.
What did I do? Instead of going with my better judgment, I accepted the lower rate and completed a trial article which turned out horribly. The work wasn’t what I expected and it wasn’t well received from the client who happened to pick it apart.
The lesson I learned was to avoid slashing my freelance rates to please certain clients. If you’ve felt pressured to cut your freelance rates as well, here are a few things you can do instead.
One thing I failed to do was negotiate my rates with the potential client and I just went with what they offered. If you really want to work with someone and want to get paid what you’re worth, always negotiate.
Reiterate your experience level and the qualities that justify your rate. Also, let the client know what the added benefits are to working with you. Do you have a large social following that you can promote your work to? Can you provide updates to projects or respond to comments on blog posts if you’re a writer? Can you create graphics or other tools that could save the client money and time?
Highlighting these benefits can help you fire back with a higher rate and hold your ground.
Ask Other Freelancers
One thing I constantly do is ask other freelancers in my niche what they’re making. I don’t do this to compete, but rather to get a realistic view of what I can charge myself.
When someone tells you they’ve researched the ‘market rate’ for your service and determine you deserve to earn $X, you can always counter with the results you’ve found from asking your network of working freelancers.
Find a Client With a Higher Budget
One of the reasons why I jumped on the opportunity to accept a lower rate from the client was that I was desperate for new work. As a freelancer, clients will come and go and you’ll often find yourself hunting down new opportunities.
The desire for more work shouldn’t cloud your better judgment though. It’s important to identify a base rate and choose to work with clients who can afford your prices. Compensation isn’t everything though as I have clients with various different budget and some are easier to work with than others which is why my rate varies.
However, if you truly don’t feel right about accepting work at a particular price point. Don’t do it. There are plenty of fish in the sea and you can always track down someone who will have a higher budget that meets your needs. The client may even keep you in mind for when their budget increases and they can pay more (like the prospect stated in the email I shared above)
Don’t undercut your freelance rates to please clients or a so called industry ‘market rate’. I learned this the hard way. One of the beneifts of freelancing is getting to choose your own rates based on what feels comfortable for you so don’t give up that freedom.
Also, stay well connected and keep track of client leads so you can have somewhere to start when you need to seek out new opportunities