As a freelance writer, you know you have your foot in the mouth when you are stuck with low paying projects and you’re wondering how to get clients to pay more. The situation can get very nasty, especially if your client is the difficult type, the one that makes life unbearable. Such a client can bombard you with an avalanche of short deadline projects and endless revisions but when it reaches the time to pay, he goes silent.
Many freelance writers, unfortunately, find themselves in this situation, especially those who are just starting out. When breaking onto the writing scene, projects seem scarce, the competition too stiff, and serious clients with serious budgets do not seem to notice you. Such are the times when working for anything you can find seem to be a pretty reasonable idea because you must pay the bills. That is how you end up with these enslaving jobs.
Now that you are already in this situation, is there anything you can do to set yourself free?
Of course, there is something you can do to change your situation. You can opt to either fire the client or negotiate for better terms. When the first option does not seem to be feasible due to the urgency of the expenses you must cover, you must find a way of renegotiating your engagement terms and getting a better pay.
This article outlines six actionable strategies that you can implement immediately to increase your rates. When you follow these steps, you can literally arm-twist that client who insists on paying peanuts into paying you some serious money on a regular basis. Heck, you can use the same strategies to even fire that one client who has never appreciated your effort since you started working together. Take charge of your freelance writing and be free.
1. Set clear terms of engagement from the word go
When you meet a client after a long dry spell, you can get too excited and throw your manners under the carpet. Do not make the mistake of driving directly into the work before you know what the client expects from you and what you will earn from the project. Make sure to clarify the details of word count, deadlines, milestones, payment, etc., BEFORE you start writing.
Being clear on your terms will cushion you from the effects of clients who change their minds midway through the project. You will be assured of an income even if the client changes terms of engagement midway since you already have a funded milestone.
Why am I saying this?
There was a time I met a client on Freelancer who wanted an EBook done in three days. She was coming from a country that has a green flag with a red dot. The work not only involved researching the internet and books for content but also a transcription of an hour’s worth of an audio file, which I was expected to use in the EBook. Interestingly, it was a conversation between a doctor and a patient who had gone for a therapy session, and they both had an accent!
As if that was not enough, my client refused to extend the deadline and insisted that I deliver the file before the deadline. She literally boxed me into a corner and turned me into her slave. I had to finish the transcription, edit the transcript, source other material and produce a 50-paged EBook within three days for a measly $30! I spat on it and never worked with that client again.
2. Ask the client about his budget estimates
With the budget, you know that the client is serious about the project and is ready to spend money on the project. You can also use the budget to gauge how much value the client pegs on the project. Use the budget as the reference point and then use point number two to make adjustments as necessary. You may be surprised the client quotes a value many times higher than what you thought. If that is not the case, explain to the client what his current proposed budget will cover.
3. There is always a better deal, go for it
In some instances, the client quotes a rate that is slightly lower than what you can work with. Do not write him off immediately. After you have clearly made it known to him that the rates are lower than what you usually work with, “force” him to give you more work at that rate. What you gain in volume far outweighs the value of high-priced projects from clients whom you might never get to hear from again.
Whenever you land a project, commit yourself to going the extra mile and do that one thing that the client never asked for. It shows the client that you value your work and you have a clear picture of the entire project. You may be surprised that the client ends up paying more than the agreed amount. I recommend this strategy for freelance bloggers who still do not have a lot of industry exposure.
5. Be in charge
Analyze the client’s project and provide an outline of the features that will need tweaking. Advise the client why you think he should make the changes you suggest and how such changes will eventually help him achieve his goals. Let the client know that you know what you are doing. You must learn to say no when you think you are at a disadvantage. Remember to use a positive language that does not cut the conversation short.
6. Do not settle for less
Let the client know your boundaries before you start the project. When you find a difficult client whom your gut tells you may never be good for you, let that client go. When you do this, act professionally every step of the way. Let the client know that there are alternatives and give them the freedom to choose whether to work with your provisions or go for the alternative.
You are running a business and you have to consider your business with the seriousness it deserves. You are working to solve people’s problems and get rewards in the course of doing your work. You are the professional here and it is only proper that you act like one. When you learn to value your time and skill set, other people will approach you from the same angle. Do not let the fear of unpaid bills push you into the rut because you may never master enough courage to get out. Negotiate the right way and get paid what you are worth.