- Establishing a fair rate can feel daunting to most creative freelancers, but it is also an essential part of the profession.
- Despite misconceptions, creative work shouldn’t cost pennies, nor do you have to go through uncomfortable negotiations to secure a fair fee.
- It is equally important for freelancers to understand their own needs as well as those of their clients in order to approach the subject in a natural way, and impart value of their services.
Ask just about any freelancer in the creative field how they feel about negotiating their rates with clients, and you’ll likely be met with an outpouring of dread. There’s so much vulnerability surrounding the subject of an individual’s work and worth, especially when it comes to creative professionals.
Because theirs is a product of a creative endeavor, it can be challenging to assign that work a fixed monetary value, and it can be even harder to argue the validity of that value to prospective clients.
While it may not be true for all creative freelancers, most still believe that they need to compromise on their rates in order to secure clients. We’re here to tell you, that doesn’t have to be the case, so let’s take a look at how you can get paid fairly for your creative freelance work.
Considering The Value Of Your Service
The very nature of creative work makes it somewhat difficult to quantify in terms of value, and that’s because the value of such work can be very subjective. It’s probably for this reason that there are some people out there who consider creative work as somehow less valuable, and demand it be done for an unreasonably low wage, or even for free. To be able to defend your work from such valuations, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the details behind your rates.
Prior to any negotiations or even a conversation with a client, every creative freelancer should calculate their overhead, including taxes, desired savings, and factoring in the fact that freelance work isn’t available year round. Try to calculate these numbers early on, and be sure not to dismiss them as “too high” yourself. After all, this is just a matter of a limited perspective that only needs to be expanded.
There is a significant value to creative work in terms of its effect on your client’s business. Take a logo, for example, which is arguably the single most important feature to your client’s business persona. For some, a $500 fee for such a design can seem high, but that’s disregarding the amount of skill and time required to perfect a logo, as well as the fact that the product can make or break the success of a company.
Understanding Your Customer’s Needs
Once you have established the value of your work, as well as your general overhead, a large part of getting paid fairly as a creative freelancer lies in the ability to understand your client’s needs. Each customer will have a unique set of challenges that you’ll need to help overcome. Identifying exactly what those are is key to establishing the value you’re bringing to the operation.
Try opening up the conversation by asking about the reason behind this particular project. Why is this important for your client? Why is the timing of this project significant? Are there larger business goals that they are trying to achieve through this initiative? Hearing these answers will be an educational experience both for you and your client, as it will open their eyes to the true value of your expertise.
How To Best Approach Discussing Your Fees
Once you’ve established your client’s goals and needs, you’ll need to broach the subject of your fee. The best way to do this is to avoid the standard “sales pitch” narrative that so many freelancers fall into. Instead, try to position your services as just that, serving your client’s needs. When you’re perceived as trying to help, rather than selling, you’ll be much more likely to justify the valuation of your work.
So fight the urge to launch into a prepared monologue discussing your rates, or a negotiation where you’re essentially squaring off against your client. Instead, ask questions and align yourself with their cause. This will position your client at the center of the discussion, and you at their service.
It still may happen that you’re faced with a low initial rate, but that doesn’t mean you should agree to the first offer if it doesn’t match your assessment. Don’t be afraid to justify your rates based on the information discussed above, and remember, there’s very little harm that can be done by asking for a higher fee. The worst you’ll likely hear is a “no.”
Once you and your client have agreed on payment, do your best to get this agreement down in writing and have it signed by both parties prior to beginning the work. These term agreements will help establish the right expectations on both sides, as well as the schedule of behind your payments.
All of these steps will help you ensure a fair wage for your creative freelance work without the need for uncomfortable negotiations.