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How to Win the Negotiation Tug-Of-War as a Freelancer

How to Win the Negotiation Tug-Of-War as a Freelancer

If you didn’t know already, payment negotiations are an invisibly listed responsibility for any freelancing work. Many indie artists (we’re calling all freelancers artists because they are) start freelancing but have no idea about how to tactfully get the price they want from their clients. We’re going to talk about the best strategies to help you achieve the price you want for your services.

What Makes Freelancing Negotiations Difficult?

Freelancing is great because it overcomes geographical challenges and opens doors to clients all over the globe. However, due to the remote nature of the work, negotiations are usually done through online channels, which cuts out non-verbal cues like expressions and body language from the equation. This can limit your understanding of client responses which ultimately adds to negotiation difficulty.

Moreover, international clients introduce cultural barriers that require additional tact and sensitivity. Along with these issues, we have the traditional ones like low price offers, late payments, asking for more than what they pay for, and aggressive negotiations to lower the asked price, to name the important few. Read on to understand how to tackle these issues.

Negotiate with Yourself First

Here’s the thing: freelancing is filled with price negotiations and how well you negotiate depends on your relationship with confrontation. If you hope to do well as a freelancer, it’s best to start practicing getting comfortable with disagreement and confrontations. Before you jump into the actual confrontation, do mock-negotiations with yourself where you try to poke holes into your asking price and try to patch them with the responses you would give to such an objection.

Talk Value More, Numbers Less

Many of your clients are going to be focused on the price that you have quoted and try to negotiate you down. In such situations, switch your conversations to focus on what they get instead of what they are paying. Break down the thought process behind your asking price and mention your achievements and expertise like industry experience, reputed testimonials, quality of work, customer support, and post-sales service.

Listen Before You Quote

Are you a good listener? If you are, it pays well. If you listen carefully, clients will tell you exactly what they expect from you and they may even share their previous bad encounters with freelancing. Price quotes are similar to the court of law, everything they say can and should be used to negotiate. Be cautious that this won’t work if you try to oversell yourself.

Reveal Your Quote Smartly

Numbers change meaning according to context. Apple can sell us the same quality of phone for double the price because of the context within which they sell. There are two major ways of going about this.

1) The build-up: Build your context by focusing on everything your client stands to gain: receiving extremely expectation-satisfying work and the benefits of being associated with you. Once you’ve marketed your services effectively, reveal your price as it is the most sensible and reasonable price you can offer.

2) The step-down: For this tactic, you will need to quote a price that is higher than you are willing to settle for. This is a simple and classic technique that allows clients to have the satisfaction of having control and getting a better deal through bargaining. Ideally, clients would detach from the stubbornness to get a discount and understand the value behind your pricing, but such clients are part of a rare species. So, you can let the pricing rope loose when this happens and then stop at your decided price.

There is also a third way that combines both methods; you build up the context, quote a higher price, and then step down from it. This requires practice to pull off, but if done right, it will most definitely help you fetch your desired price.

Conclusion: Negotiate. Improvise. Close.

Using the above tactics, you can increase the chances of landing a price that compensates you for your efforts and keeps your bank in a happy place. Remember that developing skills in online negotiation is a skill just like your services, and they develop with practice. Don’t be afraid to try all of the tactics above and even add your own strengths to unleash a powerful tug-of-negotiation.


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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.