Do you enjoy giving up perfectly good money to someone who probably has more than you?
No? Then this is the blog post for you.
One of the lessons I’ve learnt the hard way in my 3 years as a freelance writer is that giving clients discounts seldom works in your favour.
If you’re new to this profession, you might be swayed into giving discounts so that you can land a writing gig. I know I did. But don’t make my mistake! It’s not a good idea.
Like many freelance bloggers, I started my writing career on a bidding site. I signed up, completed my profile, wrote a few sample articles, and sent applications for every job I felt I could handle. As is the norm with new users on bidding sites, most of my applications got rejected, but once in a while I got a response from a client who was willing to hire me.
After exchanging a few messages about the job and convincing the client of my competence, I would often get a message that went something like this:
Hi Eric. We really love your work and we’d like you to join our team. We have many more projects in store for you once this is completed so we would like you to send us your best rate. What’s your hourly rate for clients who offer continuous work?
There are two ways to handle this scenario and I’ve tried them both. Want to know which one works best?
At first desperation for money, and fear that I would lose the client to another freelancer with more “friendly” rates, always made me cave and lower my price. Sometimes by as much as 50% depending on the client’s requests and promises of more work.
In most cases I got the job. But at what cost?
It’s been longer than 2 years since I last used a bidding site to find a client. Today they either contact me by mail through referrals or I send cold pitches to prospects to sell my services. This has helped me land very lucrative clients, albeit in smaller numbers.
In all cases, when asked about my price I always stick to my initial rate and I don’t budge for any reason. Some clients accept. Others do not and move on to other “less demanding” writers.
Either way, I don’t mind. I always stick to my price.
If you’re in the habit of discounting your rates to suit your client’s wishes then you’re sabotaging your business. Here are 5 reasons why you should stop immediately.
1. You Look Less Professional
In the freelance writing world, reputation and perception are what compel clients to reach out to you and enquire about your services.
If you drop your rates on request, the client might think that your work is not all it’s cracked out to be and lose faith on your ability to deliver. This can happen even if your samples are top notch.
Without knowing it, by lowering your rates you’re lowering your worth in your client’s eyes.
If you believe you’re worth $100 per article then that’s what you should charge. Lowering your price on demand makes you look less of a pro and you may end up losing the client to another writer who has the guts to stick to his guns.
2. You Set a Bad Precedent
The client may perceive you as weak or uncertain and take advantage of this to his benefit. In the client’s mind, you have no backbone. If you’re willing to lower your rates on his request, he may develop the attitude that everything about you and your work is negotiable.
For example, if you tell the client you can finish a project in 10 days, the client may ask that you finish it in 5 days. To put it simply, you might end up haggling with the client on just about every issue simply because you started off on the wrong foot.
3. You Risk Your Financial Security
Consider your financial situation before you lower your rates for a potential client. There’s a reason you charge the prices you do.
If you start slashing your prices every time a client asks you to with the promise of future work, you might start lagging behind on your rent payment, utility bills and other essential expenses. Little luxuries you used to enjoy as a result of your original rate may become a thing of the past. You may be required to work more hours just to maintain your current lifestyle.
It’s just not worth it.
My advice: don’t give in.
Settling for less than you deserve is not the answer. Provided your work is top notch, there are many clients out there who are willing to pay your rates. You just need to be more aggressive at marketing to find them.
4. Your Promised Ongoing Work Rarely Materializes
If you’re communicating with a potential client and he drops this “lots more work in future” line, there’s a good chance that he has a one-off project he wants done for the lowest rate possible. Clients have been known to use this excuse as a dangling carrot to persuade writers to accept much lower rates than is their norm.
Politely tell the client your rate is non-negotiable. It helps if you go into detail and explain why you charge what you do. Sometimes this softens up potential employers and makes them more willing to pay your rates even if they thought them too high at first.
I have to mention that not all clients are tricksters. On some occasions you may meet a client who genuinely needs a writer to work on multiple long-term projects. You may be tempted to agree to a discounted rate in this scenario. After all, you’ll have steady work, something writers are constantly looking for. Even then, don’t do it. You’ll end up working more hours just to make ends meet.
5. Your Discount-Hungry Clients Are Too Demanding
If a client likes to haggle over rates, chances are he or she doesn’t understand or appreciate the value of what you do. In my experience, these are the clients who will always ask you to do multiple revisions until a piece is “perfect”. They’re also slow when it comes to making payments.
These are often the clients who are most likely to swindle you, so watch out. If a prospect is asking you to halve your price for the promise of more work. or is making comparisons to other writers who can do the same job for a much lower price, be cautious. You might just end up wishing you had never met them in the first place.
What’s your take on giving clients discounts? Is it something you regularly do, or purposely avoid? I’d love to hear your experiences of dealing with bargain-hunting clients and how you keep your rates on the right track.
Image: jenny downing