How Should A Freelancer Handle A Haggling Client?
I’ve had multiple clients haggle my rates as a freelancer. When I first began, my capacity was not full. So in these cases, I preferred to have some work at a lower rate than no work at all. As a result, I was willing to compromise within guidelines. While my hourly rate at the time was seventy-five, I set a minimum cap at sixty-five dollars per hour. This prevented me from lowering my prices too much but gave me the flexibility to work with certain clients while I built up my business.
An alternative to raising our prices is to explore the reasons why they want a discounted rate. Are they looking for the best deal? Are they having budget constraints? Is their objections something else? Once we learn the root reason, we can explore these further and provide creative solutions to facilitating a win-win scenario.
For example, instead of lowering my hourly rate with a particular client, I billed my client at sixty-five dollars per hour and did a trade for his company offerings for the difference. Another example is the idea of deprioritizing their work. With some of these clients, I communicated that their work would not be a top priority as a result of the lower fee. Their projects would get my attention later in the month. If my rate was going to decrease, there needed to be a way to reconcile the difference and these are two ways I did that.
Now, my hourly rate is ninety dollars per hour and my capacity is full. This means I no longer haggle because I’ve got more than enough people willing to pay my full rate to work with me. Supply & Demand. In fact, this high demand is partially why I've increased my hourly rate five dollars per hour from eighty-five. If we can't find a creative solution to resolve the objection, we're not going to work together.
One word of caution about accepting a lower rate. It can be challenging to increase our hourly rate with someone because of their expectations and experience working with us. If we offer a lower discounted rate, as the result of negotiating, it can backfire later when we increase our rates. I've lost several clients when I've transitioned, so keep this in mind as you plan for how to proceed since It's hard for someone to mentally wrap their mind around large increases in our rates. For this reason, I recommend increasing our rates in small increments over time as opposed to large rare jumps.