Since I’ve recently come off a round of negotiating–on BOTH sides of the table for two separate projects–I thought it might be a good time to share a few freelance rate negotiation tactics that work well for me.
Do Your Math
When I set rates for my freelance writing work, I add up not only how much time it takes me to write the piece, but also the time included for researching, tweaking, and making the piece into a final draft. But most freelancers should already be doing that–my secret weapon here is to anticipate other factors.
For example–how long will my new project take compared to past projects? Does this particular writing assignment require more heavy lifting than my previous work of the same length and approximate subject matter? Is there a unique requirement for volume compressed into a shorter deadline?
Your fee might need adjusting if the project wants something you can do–a dozen articles on donating blood, for example–but wants it in three days. Never forget to factor in these more intangible things that can make an assignment far more difficult.
Research The Client
When you arrive at the bargaining table, your future client might try to cry poor, asking for a lower rate than you’re worth. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. However, if you know your client is, for example, an ad agency with a string of high profile names on their portfolio, you can feel more comfortable about sticking to your guns.
The reverse is also true; once I was contacted about an editing project for a book that was 100,000 words long. I immediately saw dollar signs until I read that the author was a retired person on a fixed income. I had to turn down the project on that basis as I knew that A) I would feel guilty about charging my usual rates and B) the book would require more time than I could give charitably even if I did agree to work to a reduced fee. My paying clients AND the book author would get shortchanged in the end.
Give Yourself A Raise
When setting rates with a new client, ask yourself how long it has been since you raised your rates. Is it time to adjust for inflation, cost of living increases and other obviously reasonable concerns? Perhaps so.
Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, and multi-media artist. His recent work includes a series of blog posts and articles about personal finance and retail banking. Wallace shows off his latest video installation, “Super Happy Adventure Mashup Time” as part of Adventure Time!, a group art show at Chicago’s OhNo!Doom Gallery which opens on August 11th.