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How to Negotiate as a Freelancer –The 101.

freelancesupermarket.com newsroom

RSS 02 December 2019
While it's been reported that freelancers currently have very little faith in the British economy right now, (especially given all the issues they are facing with matters such as IR35 and contractor's working rights), the good news is that they appear to be charging more than ever for their services and working more hours.

However, for freelance workers, when it comes to negotiating with employers, it's a complicated thing. Set your prices too high, and they will go elsewhere. Set them too low and you feel taken advantage of and have little money left to pay the bills, let alone any pension contributions or any savings you were hoping to make.

It's a difficult situation. You may be an expert at what you do, but when it comes to the other side of your work - the business administration, the tax affairs and yes, the contract negotiations, you have to be outstanding at those too. It can feel like a David and Goliath situation.

Building relationships is what will build your business. Of course, you want to be perceived as a professional, but unlike office workers, who see their bosses most days, you're not there to joke with over the water cooler. And it's important that your employer likes you. If they like you, they will work with you, not against you, cut you some slack on that deadline if you need it, and maybe even offer you more work. Even better, you may get some referrals to other clients.

Trust and confidence are something that both sides need to feel is there. When negotiating your next project, having a stronger relationship makes it easier to ask for what you think is fair, and leaves them more prepared to find ways to make things work for everyone, not just themselves. Think of it like friend. You're going to try harder to move things around to make a meeting with a close friend when you are busy, than you are with someone you barely know.

Don't feel pressured to discount. There's a lot of talk in the freelancing world about the 'race to the bottom'. A more global market and advances in technology means that it's quite feasible that the job you do could easily be done by someone overseas for a fraction of what you charge. But if you don't place a value on your work, who will? Consider what else you uniquely bring to the party and be sure your client knows it. Now is not the time for sitting in the side-lines, hoping to be noticed. You can still toot your own horn without being an arrogant p***k about it.

Try and work with fixed fee projects, where you can. An hourly rate can work well too, if it's enough to ensure you'll get paid what you need, and your client has some form of transparency to know that you are actually doing what they are paying you for, during those hours.

When you start to negotiate for a job, consider how much you want the job, how well it matches your skillset and how well you feel you will be perceived as a valuable asset to your client. There's no point wasting time courting the kind of business you don't ultimately care for, or where you will feel undervalued. Consider if the work is really going to be a one-off project, and how sure you are that it will lead to more work. Loyal, repeat business where you feel valued is your sweet spot.

Just remember that ultimately, your true value lies with you and only you.

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