As an independent contractor or freelancer, creating and setting a realistic rate can be a challenge. However, once that freelance rate is set, perhaps the bigger challenge comes in self-advocating and presenting the rate with confidence.
If you’re someone who’s just starting a freelance career, there’s the fear of rejection. What if the client says no to my rate? Go with someone else? Or worse, what if I never find a position? Should I change my rate?
All of these are realistic questions I’ve asked myself along my journey, but ultimately they are fears standing in the way. Are you going to be rejected at times? Sure. Are you going to have to modify your freelance rate per project? Sometimes, yes. Will you have to settle for less than you deserve? Realistically, no, unless you decide to accept lower pay because of financial circumstances or just starting out.
Sometimes freelancing can be intimidating just because there isn’t a ‘set’ pay amount as there would be with a company. However, you can’t let your self-employment status hurt you; instead, you should let it build you. You are capable. The only way a client can see that, though, is if you present your desired freelance rate with confidence. Here’s how:
First, specify the terms.
Before you present a freelance rate make sure that you’re clear on what’s being expected of you, the time, and other pertinent information. When you’re clear on the project, you can (later, if needed) speak to why you offered the price you did.
Present the desired number without explanation or reasoning.
You don’t need to go into a paragraph explaining how you came to this specific freelance rate; in fact, this will actually hurt you more than help. Don’t do it! Just speak to the job description and give your rate.
Example: “Project A will require X hours of work, including research, and be about X words in the final product. I will add X, X, and X to create content that fits your desired goal of X. I can have it finished by X date. Based upon this, the project total will be $X.”
The point, here, is just to be clear about what you will do, how long it will take to do it, and what you will provide. Feel free to add details to speak to what sets you and your services apart, but don’t use those details to justify the payment.
Speak confidently, slowly, and with a sincere expression.
The key, here, is to make sure you’re speaking slowly. I tend to rush when I get nervous so I always take extra time here, just to makes sure I don’t sound stressed or incapable (which talking fast sometimes makes you sound!). Also, try to keep a sincere expression on your face, while still being confident. Remember you are qualified. Reflect that in your body language.
If you’re not speaking in person with a client, make sure your email reads confidently and, of course, is error free.
If countered, justify said rate accordingly.
In the instance(s) that you’re countered or outright rejected, respond with (calm and collected!) justifications of your set rate. If you did research for other freelance rates in your area, if you have specific qualifications or experience that sets you apart, or if you believe this rate is fair because of a certain reason(s) then explain this to the client. It’s important for you to be on the same page, regardless if they end up accepting your offer.
Plus, this response also gives them a chance to look back over your original rate again, which could potentially end up in an acceptance/
Create a counter offer that doesn’t undervalue you.
So they didn’t go for your original rate, even after justifying your price tag. Don’t stress! This happens (quite often). See if you can justify your freelance rate according to the client’s terms, while, of course, still giving a fair price to the work you’ll produce.
If the client goes for your counter offer, awesome! If not, see if you can create a compromise. Maybe you’ll do the work they require for some parts instead of all. Or maybe you’ll accept slightly lower for a longer overall time, etc. Find what works for both of you and your desired outcomes, without settling (on either side).
Propose a final rate, if needed.
Depending on the outcome, you may or may not have come to a conclusion. If you’ve created a compromise and your client accepts, congratulations! If not, here’s where you can send or state a final offer. This can be a slight modification of terms or pay—whatever makes the most sense to you.
Look at this as a ‘last ditch’ type of attempt to keep a client, which is the ultimate goal. If the client doesn’t budge, or if you feel that they aren’t honoring your worth, you may not want to do this part at all—up to you!
Accept or walk.
If you agree with the terms, feel confident about completing the project in the given time, and are ready to build a relationship with the client, accept. If the client denies you, or you don’t feel that the terms work for you, you can choose to walk.
Don’t feel bad about saying no, especially if you truthfully feel you deserve more. Also, be sure to speak politely and confidently, regardless of the outcome. You never know if and when this client may reach back out again. And most importantly, there will be other opportunities, so don’t get frustrated.
Featured Image Credit: Christian Dubovan