As a creative professional, negotiating pricing with clients can be a daunting task, even when you’ve been in the industry for a while. Getting the right balance between charging a fair price and making a profit can be challenging and there are a number of common mistakes that creatives often make when trying to win clients. However, with the right approach, you can negotiate standard pricing that works for you and successfully build strong, lasting relationships with your clients.
In this article, we will explore common mistakes that creatives make when communicating pricing, and offer some best practices to help you avoid these pitfalls. From setting realistic rates to communicating effectively with clients, these tips will help you negotiate pricing confidently and win clients more effectively. Let’s dive in!
Setting Realistic Pricing Rates
Every freelancers goes through these major stages as they make a transition from a steady income lifestyle. First stage is the initial break away from salary based pay to per project remuneration. At this transition stage, the temptation is to go by the price you see on search engines or freelance sites, which on most occasions are hourly rates and may not be applicable to you as a ‘beginner’. However, seeing that you’re likely to have a vague idea of what the industry is like in terms of time frame and commitment level, it’s advisable to go with an average per-project rate within the boundary of wbag you’ve already researched rather than a hourly rate.
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What ever price you decide to go with, it’s important to keep in perspective the view that establishing a good relationship with clients is the primary focus at this stage. By the time you’re arriving at the next stage where you’ve established a committed clientele base, irrespective of the size, you now have the leverage to decide between a hourly rate and a flat per project rate. Most experts would advise understanding the nature of the project before deciding on the price structure to offer, as both have their perks and cons.
Let’s examine some of thee pros and cons of both pricing methods before you make that big decision.
Per-project pricing – Pros
- You enjoy work autonomy, as you’re not restricted to a particular schedule.
- You know exactly what you’re getting from the onset
- You get paid for the value of your work not your time.
Per-project pricing – Cons
- While dealing with difficult clients with excessive back and forth, a decreased value might be placed in your time.
- You can get overwhelmed with more work than initially discussed, especially when working a vague brief.
What to do
Setting a flat rate for a project shouldn’t be a problem if you’re certain of the project’s scope from the beginning. Also, to avoid time wasting efforts when revisions are recurring, it’s advisable to have a clear cut agreement with your client as to the price commitment each revision would attract.
Per-hour pricing – Pros
- You get rewarded for the actual work done.
- Clients may gravitate towards you more because they can visualise and measure payment vs work done.
Per-hour pricing – Cons
- Your increase in efficiency is not rewarded except you bump up your hourly rate, which can scare some clients away.
What to do
For long term projects where you timelines are quite flexible, giving you some level of control over the time spent on execution, a per hourly rate can work best for you. This is also applicable when the brief is too vague to have a specific visual on how the work, and client relations will go down. With an hourly rate, you get to avoid being paid less for the time you put in the project.
Understanding the client’s budget
The money conversation for creative freelancers has for too long been one uncomfortable talk to have. Where the client is wondering what your price rate is and you’re wondering whether their budget will work with your rates. For the fear of judgement, loosing out or sounding too intrusive, many freelancers undervalue themselves by accepting way too low than the client’s budget and standard asking price. As uncomfortable as this can be, there’s a way you can draw out these information from clients and not sound too intrusive.
For every client, one thing is paramount, getting the results they desire. Knowing this, you can start the conversation form that back end, and work your way back to the monetary implications of the project. For example, questions like;
- Could you tell me more about this project?
- What are your expectations from my services?
- What feedback mechanism are you comfortable with?
And many other questions like these, gives the client a perception that you’re genuinely interested in the project and have a good knowledge about what you’re doing. With that the client is at ease, ready to take in questions about budget and monetary implications with ease. Then questions like “What budget should we prepare to work with or what budget would you be willing to work with? “ succeeds talks about the project. You can also follow this up with the reason why you would like to know their budget, so they’re more at ease. The goal with all of this communication maneuvering is to ensure you’re not at a disadvantage at the same time not scaring off potential clients.
Creating clear proposals
When it comes to proposals, two crucial client baits every freelancer must utilise is precision and transparency. If you notice from the beginning of this article an emphasis is placed on ensuring the potential client is set at ease while communicating with you. It’s all about setting the right pace of healthy work relationship from the onset, and ensuring you get value for time expended. With several proposal templates available online for your perusal, it’s important to take note of these things to hit the precision and transparency mark.
- The needs, expectations and ideas of the client
- Feasible timelines and possible alternatives for each timeline
- Price implication of each stage in the project
- Overall price implication and payment methods
These points are not exhaustive, however they help guide your proposals to give off that professional, transparent and precise touch, every clients wants to work with.
Following up with clients
After all is said and done, how to Write Freelance Proposals That Will Win Over Clients + a Free Templatene, it’s important not to underestimate the role follow up plays in sealing your desired deal. Many freelancers make the mistake of leaving clients hanging all in a bid not to sound obnoxious or bothersome. Whereas another freelancer is doing due diligence with follow up and bagging all the good clients you would have loved to work with. So what do you do do after all the proposals and pricing has been discusses and you get the I’ll get back to you signal? Its simple, communicate your value to the clients in a way that prioritises their interest and ideas as earlier discussed during the initial meeting. Nevertheless, in all your communication, ensure you take note of these things;
- Be sensitive to the timing.
- Reiterate genuine interest in the work.
- Communicate your professionalism in tone.
- Prioritise brevity in communication
- Most importantly, know when to move on.
In your journey as a freelancer, it’s refreshing to know you’re not the only one going through the ‘weird’ money conversations, we’ve all been there. The interesting part we can all attest to is, the more you have these conversations with potential clients, the less uncomfortable it gets.