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8 Negotiating Secrets to Help Freelancers Get the Best Projects

by Laura Spencer

on November 27, 2013

in Freelancing Basics

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

You’ve just been offered a freelancing gig. It’s perfect, except for one thing. Your next week is already completely full and the client wants the project by the end of the week. There’s no way you could meet that deadline. You have to turn the work down, right?

Not necessarily. You could try negotiating a better deadline.

Many freelancers are afraid of negotiating and some don’t even realize that they can negotiate. However, most clients are open to discussing the terms of a freelancing project with you.

Learning how to negotiate can help you get better projects, better terms for your projects, and even better pay.

In this post, I’ll share 8 negotiating secrets to help you become a better negotiator. If you liked this post, you may also like Do You Make These 5 Common Negotiating Mistakes?.

8 Negotiating Secrets

Do you negotiate terms with your clients, or do you pretty much let them dictate the terms of a freelance project to you?

If you always let your clients determine the terms for your freelancing projects, you’re making a big mistake. Here are eight tips for becoming a better negotiator:

  1. Don’t be afraid of negotiating. Many freelancers hesitate to negotiate because they think they’ll lose the project. However, negotiation doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose the project, although it could weed out bad clients. Good clients are good business people and they understand that the project terms may need to be adjusted to fit both parties.
  2. Listen carefully. If you listen carefully when you discuss a project with a prospective client, you may discover what’s really important to them and what’s not. For example, a client with a tight deadline that absolutely must be met will probably be more flexible on price. If you can’t tell what’s most important to the client, ask them.
  3. You set your price, not the client. Too often beginning freelancers let the client tell them what they are going to pay for a project. The freelancer may believe that the rate the client mentions is set in stone, but it probably isn’t. Most clients have a budget range in mind for a project. If the price they quote is too low, tell them what you normally charge.
  4. You can negotiate nearly every term of a project agreement. Price is just one aspect of freelancing projects that can be negotiated. Other project terms can be negotiated as well, including the scope of the work, timeframe, and even payment method. Getting better terms for a project is a win-win. You’ll do better work if you’re comfortable with your work agreement.
  5. Offer a fee range early in negotiations. If there’s too much of a difference between the client’s budget and your rates, they may not be the right client for you. You don’t want to waste a lot of time with a prospect who can’t afford to hire you. You can weed out bad prospects by providing a general range. Say something like, “my rates for that range between $x and $x, depending on the complexity of the work.
  6. Give the client choices. You may be able to win some clients who normally wouldn’t be able to afford your services by reducing the scope of the work. For example, if a client wants a website redesign and a logo redesign, let them also know what you would charge for just a website redesign and for just a logo redesign. Even if they choose a smaller scope, they may order more of your services later.
  7. Always get the agreement in writing. No matter how friendly and agreeable the client seems, always get the terms of your agreement in writing. For small projects, email can work. However, you should get a more formal work agreement, such as a contract, for larger or more complex projects. A work agreement protects both you and the client.
  8. Be as specific as possible. Whether it’s an email that outlines the details of your project or a formal contract, make sure that you go into detail about what is expected of you and what is expected of the client. You don’t want there to be any misunderstanding later on. A detailed agreement can service as a reference point if either of you forgets what you agreed upon.

Your Turn

What are your best negotiating tips? Share your advice in the comments.

Learn how to earn $125 or more per hour as a freelancer - Free Test Drive

About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy LauraĆ¢??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.