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Freelancers: never negotiate your hourly rates

Who among you has never had the experience of getting involved in lengthy negotiations over rates? When you are a freelancer, however, you must always keep in mind to never negotiate your rate (or almost never); and there are good reasons for this, which we will examine over the course of this article.

1. Be confident with your worth

When it comes to sticking firmly to your rates, the important thing is to have confidence in yourself. Having confidence in yourself (we are talking professional self confidence here of course) means knowing your value and knowing how to sell that value at a fair price. When you offer a client a particular rate, you are doing so quite simply because the rate in question is a reflection of your skills and the quality of the work you do.

2. Set a base rate

Freelancers usually work from a base price that they can then adjust to suit individual clients and their specific requirements. It is therefore up to you to carry out some preliminary research so you can set a fair price rate for your services and decide what room for negotiation there may be. For more information on this topic, check out our article all about the ways in which freelancers can justify higher rates.

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3. “Serious clients know the price rate

In reality, it is quite rare to encounter clients who refuse to work with you because you are unwilling to reduce your advertised rates. When this does happen, it's either due to the fact you are dealing with an indifferent client or because your rates actually are too high. In truth, serious clients are already aware of the kinds of rates charged by professional freelancers and rarely try to negotiate.

4. “Educate” your clients

The thing to do in all cases where clients try to negotiate is to educate them. This may seem to be challenging, but if you stay diplomatic and with tact, you will be able to inform your potential clients why you won't lower your rates. Remember, it is not uncommon to encounter a first-time client who has no idea about the rates charged for the service they require. It is therefore your responsibility to explain the whys and wherefores of your rate to them. It is up to you to justify your prices in terms of the services you provide.

Any client who, despite your efforts, asks for greatly reduced prices risks being a difficult client to manage throughout the entire length of your contractual relationship with them. For example they may be likely to provide unclear instructions or expect you to be available at unreasonably short notice.

5. Reduced rates means reduced level of services

Though it is important to explain why your rates are what they are as part of the negotiating process, it is in fact just as important to explain what kind of service you would be able to provide were you to reduce your hourly rate. If a translator, for example, were to reduce their prices, they may then be obliged to reduce the number of revisions they grant their clients (which are normally unlimited in number). Similarly, a web developer might refuse to provide technical support to their client once the product has been delivered.

You should be aware that even where lengthy negotiations are involved, it is very rare for a client to refuse, in the end, to pay the rate you originally quoted … The combination of diplomacy, patience and the actual work you do should enable you to justify your basic rates and get the client to accept them no matter what the situation.