How To Negotiate As A Freelancer

Many members of the She Spends community are freelancers in some way or another. Some are writers who are paid on a per story basis by publications. Others are yoga instructors who may book classes for a certain number of weeks but are often dealing with the ebb and flow of clientele. Some are consultants, marketing professionals or designers who are paid based on projects, rather than a pre-specified yearly salary. 

With this in mind, we’ve created a guide to salary negotiation for our readers whose jobs are non-traditional. Below you’ll find resources for determining your market rate as a freelancer, ideas for how you can ask for more and what to do when you get pushback from your clients.

Determine your market rate. 

This advice is just as important for freelance salary negotiations as it is for typical negotiations. As always, you can use FairyGodboss or Glassdoor to find out how much others in your field are getting paid. There are also some industry-specific options out there. For writers, Who Pays Writers and Study Hall are awesome resources, whilePayscale gives granular information on rates for fitness instructors, among other jobs.Consultant Journal has an awesome calculator for fees, as well. 

Based on this information — and the knowledge that you have to cover things like healthcare, time off and other benefits normally included in yearly salary packages — you can begin determining rates. You can offer rates based on projects or you can offer hourly rates. It may be best to determine what you would like to be paid for each in the case that a client asks for one or the other.

Negotiate per assignment. 
With this in mind, you can easily negotiate for more money based on each project or assignment. As you pitch new ideas or expand your offerings, share with each new client your newly determined rates. Most will bite; freelancers are often woefully underpaid. If they don’t, consider backing off slightly, or hit them with this kicker: “I’ll be able to do the best work for you if I am paid $X. Is there any way you can budge on what you’re offering me?”

For ongoing clients, reach out to say your rates are changing.
This can be done via a phone call or an email, but with existing clients that you have ongoing work with, you can often share a simple message notifying them that your rates are changing. Give notice about a month in advance in case any of your clients are not OK with these changes. If that is the case, refer to step four. 

If you get pushback, you can totally adjust rates. 
To start, remind your clients that you can do the best job if you’re paid that initial rate. If they continue to push back on it, consider adjusting them for just that client. Do the work, but spend a bit less time on it if you can; use your extra time to search for other client options who may pay you a better rate. 

To be sure, you don’t want to burn relationships with long-standing clients. But those long-standing clients should also be willing to pay you your market rate. 

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #45

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