If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, you’ve probably run up against the experience of negotiating. If it went well, congrats! No, seriously, kudos. Because negotiating can be damn tricky. And if it left you stressed to post traumatic proportions, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in good company. We’ve all been there.
Relationships are hard. And negotiating is just another relationship. It takes practice.
Whether negotiating with your client for more money, your best friend/partner/spouse to make dinner, or your neighbors to remove the avocado colored refrigerator from their front porch, there’s a lot of psychology tied up in it. And you can’t seek out the comfy couch of a negotiations counselor when things get rough.
You don’t have to. Next time you’re suiting up for negotiations, consider the following questions and the psychology behind them. Then use this knowledge to your advantage.
Are you going in loaded for bear?
If so, quit it.
Negotiating from an aggressive mindset puts you at odds with the client. When you go in holding on to a fixed idea of what you want and arguing for only that and nothing else, you’ve set up a little situation called “positional bargaining.”
Positional bargaining can be a drag because as the negotiation advances, you and the client hold more and more steadfast to your respective positions, continually restating and defending them. It’s a no-win situation.
But don’t be a pushover either. In cooperative negotiating, you’re not holding out for your ideal, but you’re also not waving the white flag and then sulking in a corner. The goal is find a way that you and the client can work together to create an outcome that’s beneficial to both.
Can you control the logistics in any way?
If you’re doing a face-to-face negotiation and can get a handle on when it will happen, you may be at an advantage. Here are some crazy facts. Negotiations tend to go better when:
The weather is nice. Sunny and dry. Not too hot, not too cold. Look at the forecast and avoid making your appointment on cold and rainy/snowy days if you can. In fact, if you just move to Hawaii, your negotiations should all go swimmingly.
The client’s blood glucose levels aren’t low. Find out what the client likes and offer to bring it in. “Can I bring you a bagel? A cappuccino perhaps? Cured meat?” You never know.
The negotiations happen earlier in the day. Most people are better able to make decisions and are generally sharper at the beginning of the day. This doesn’t mean 7AM of course, unless you’re both happy morning people. Happy, bubbly, irritating morning people.
How much are you willing to share?
Ancient doctrine dictated that one should never disclose personal information during negotiations. But this doctrine was created predominantly by men socialized to show no emotion, so there ya go.
Times they are a changin’. Current protocol calls for some self-disclosure, as it’s been shown to be effective in building rapport with the client. Talk about how things are affecting you that day – the weather, your family, that fifth cup of coffee – to maybe find some common ground.
Of course, you need to be mindful of that fine line between sharing personal information and flat out TMI. TMI can quickly build a wall between you and the client, thereby making negotiations ever more difficult.
So you’ll want to refrain from the naked and drunken party stories. (Unless, of course, you’re writing posts for a naked and drunken party blog.)
Do you hear yourself?
Watch what you say and how you say it.
Avoid this sort of whiny noise:
“Well, I know this might sound like a lot, but …”
“I really hate to ask for this, but… ”
“Would you ever maybe consider…?”
The client can almost hear you hanging your head and staring down at your feet as you shuffle them side to side. Not the image of competence.
A client is going to be more comfortable negotiating with a blogger who is confident and self-assured. Confident and self-assured does not mean self-obsessed, though. The client doesn’t care about how many people are following you on Twitter or the Instagram picture of your breakfast. (Frankly, almost nobody does.)
Are you making yourself clear?
What are the terms of your negotiation? Knowing this going into the game is to your advantage. When you make yourself clear, the client is automatically more at ease.
Is the client showing interest in your writing just one blog? Are you willing and available to write more?
Or are they asking for something more steady, like a set number of posts per week or month? And if so, does the client expect you to spit out content like a sleek SEO word machine or are the deadlines realistic?
Get all of the terms on the table. There’s more flexibility to negotiate that way. Try to resolve everything at once – payment, number of posts, deadlines. Negotiate them on a bundle basis – like your cable-internet provider. Or a White Castle crave case. When you bundle it all together, you retain the bargaining power. And you can always make concessions on the less important stuff later.
How does this make you feel?
Well, not this post – though you’re more than welcome to comment on that.
But showing emotion proves to the client that you are not a robot blogger. (Actually, there’s no such thing. Yet…)
Exhibiting a positive mood at the beginning of a negotiation when establishing rapport can be helpful. But so too can showing visual signs of disappointment or worry when discussing the terms, because research shows that this can actually lead to your client making larger concessions.
This one’s a little dicey though. You have to be careful how much emotion you show and to direct your disappointment toward the offer and NOT toward the client.
Are you afraid to toot your own horn?
Maybe you’ve been told too many times to stop showing off. Well, screw that. You know how to play the damn horn, so play it.
Disclose to the client the other companies who are coveting your stellar blogging skills. If they sneer and tell you to go do your thing with those other companies, then you probably dodged a bullet.
But if all is going well, then make the first offer. They will probably counteroffer. Then, unless the counteroffer is super generous (i.e. what you actually deserve to get paid) counter their offer. Play the game. Show them you’re worth it.
They’re far more likely to value you if you value yourself. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Maybe you have some tips for negotiation I forgot? Feel free to join the conversation!