For most Africans who are into freelancing, most of the jobs we get tend to be from online sources; and there tends to be a catch: you have to negotiate.
This could be one of the relatively less fun parts of freelancing, because you don’t get paid for showing up at work every day, unlike the regular salary-earner, and this can leave you, especially as a newbie freelancer, hanging onto the rope of freelancing, tightly for survival.
Sometimes, because we just have to work, there is the tendency to underprice our work, just so we can earn something as freelancers; but ever get that unsettling feeling of being paid less than your worth, or less than the amount of work which you actually put into the project? Working at odd hours is no news for freelancers, but at least, it ought to be backed solidly by the knowledge that you are being paid a satisfactory amount of money for the services you’re rendering; because one of the fastest ways to burnout and job dissatisfaction, is being an underpaid worker.
And so, how can we negotiate better with our clients on what we’re actually worth? We have discussed below, a few tips to help handle this side of the business of freelancing.
1. Know Your Worth
Two things that make up the worth of a project are: the amount of work which you’d have to put into it, and the amount of time required to put in that work.
When you have no idea of how much work you’d have to put into a project, you are likely to either under-sell yourself, or to give an outrageously high price- which makes it obvious that you really have no clue as to what you’re saying. Over-pricing, in particular or bidding too high on online platforms, would make potential clients simply ignore your bid.
Same goes, for time.
And so, you need to adequately estimate how much time, and the amount of work you put into a project before naming a price. This way, you would be more confident in naming your price, because you’d have considered the important factors.
Another thing you can use to your advantage, as regards time, is that if your client is bent on paying a particular amount, you can negotiate for more time, thus freeing you up to take on more projects within that time frame.
2. Always Have Samples of Work You’ve Done Before
How else do you want to effectively communicate to a potential client that you can do an excellent job? Samples are your proof, the evidence that your work is worth a particular amount.
Some clients really don’t understand what your work is worth, but if you can show them samples of similar projects, then they might have a better glimpse into the service you’re rendering.
As well, as you advance in your career, don’t be afraid of reasonably increasing your fees, even if you charged less for a similar project. After all, your expertise has increased.
3. Always Deliver Excess Value
Now, this negotiation tip isn’t mainly for the current work which you’re bidding or bargaining for, but for future tasks, assignments or jobs.
As a rule, never deliver work which is less in value than what you are being paid. In effect, you shouldn’t be a bad hire, otherwise, there is next to no chance of you been contracted for another job. Remember this tip, and you would have a lot of loyal clients.
4. Learn How to Say No
Yeah, you know what one of the best things about negotiation is? You can absolutely say no.
There are no rules or binding agreements, and so, you can stand up, and walk away from the assignment like the king or queen that you are- no one will force you to take a job.
Yes, you can make some waivers for your clients- but they have to be reasonable. If you are being offered an amount that is ridiculously low, and you can’t offset that by spending more time on the project, do not hesitate to walk away from the project.
If every client is a ‘must-have’, you would soon discover that there would be growing resentment, because you are being under-paid! Soon enough, you might begin to churn out sub-standard work because you are either simply tired, or you are being subconsciously tailored to provide the quality of work which that money can buy. As well, you might have to take on more jobs than you can reasonably do- all because you want to do low cost jobs and keep every client.
No dear, not every client is for you.
In fact, for every freelancer who wants to be taken seriously and last in the industry, you just have to learn to walk away from certain deals.
Negotiation might not be fun, but it certainly doesn’t have to be your nemesis.