The Art of Negotiation: What You Need to Get the Gig

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This past year, I have been moonlighting as a freelance editor/writer while still maintaining a full time job. This paycheck security meant that I could take or leave projects with no real financial burden. This means I slacked a bit when it came to 1.) Looking for new clients and 2.) Securing the contract.

As I transition now into full time freelance, I do find myself with more anxiety when it comes to finding enough work to cover the bills. Every freelancer goes through this phase as they are first starting out to make their brand known. The safety net is being pulled out and now I better step up the performance.

Freelancing means you have the ability to set your own price. However, clients do not have to agree to that price. Then it is up to negotiating to compromise on a price. Since I still consider myself a newbie in the freelance business, I tend to set my prices too high simply because I overestimate how long a project will take to complete. However, if you price to high, it could scare clients off where they will not bother to negotiate any longer and look for someone else.

On the other hand, if you price is too low, a client will not think you are skilled in your profession or that you fail to grasp what is involved in the project. I am guilty of both, and found that my best bet is to research what others in industry charge for similar projects and try to break down each project into each step involved. I add up a price quote from each individual task to get the overall price to charge.

My latest example:

Client needs a manual overhaul, but felt my price was too high. I decided to break down the project into steps:

1.) Phone calls, meetings, and any other correspondence to obtain materials.
2.) Learning the software program for basic understanding.
3.) Reviewing manual materials and compare it to the software to see where the breakdowns occur.
4.) Reorganize and edit the manual (Obviously, this should take the bulk of the time.)
4.) Updating screen shots to reflect any changes.
5.) Review and finalize the finished project and compare it to the checklist to make sure all client needs were met.

I learned that sometimes the client just needs a better breakdown of the total project cost to know where their money is going. Also, knowing that this client will have future work for me makes me work harder to keep the client, even if that means I might have to cut costs initially.

Freelancers, please feel free to add your tips and tricks below when negotiating with new clients.

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