How to negotiate with clients

Photo by Oleg Magni on

Welcome to the second Monday in May. To all the moms out there, I wish you a Happy Belated Mother’s Day. I hope your children gave you some love, hugs, and a little peace. And if you’re not a mom, I hope you still had a great Sunday.

Random quote: Inertia is the enemy of accomplishing great things. To defeat this enemy, just do.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk.

How to negotiate with clients

Negotiating rates, deadlines, and projects with potential and current clients is part of the freelance writer’s job. You will not get what you want and deserve without some amount of negotiating. It is the rare client who will give you everything you want without asking or bargaining to some degree. It can be difficult and challenging to negotiate, especially if you are new to freelancing or you have to deal with a new client.

The following strategies will help you to negotiate rates and whatever else you need from new and existing clients.

  1. Be confident in your abilities. You are a good writer / editor / designer / freelancer. Believe in yourself. You deserve the rates you get – you deserve better than the rates you’re currently charging. You provide real value. You also deserve to work with great clients.
  2. Negotiation is part of the world you work in. Clients expect you to negotiate. Knowing how to negotiate, and expecting to negotiate, shows you are a professional. Act like it.
  3. Find the right clients. Some clients will never pay your rates, no matter how good you are. Work with clients who are willing to negotiate and can afford to pay your rates.
  4. Work out the details first. Ask questions (what do they need, who is it for, why do they need it, when do they need, how do they want it done). Define the scope in detail and quickly. Negotiate everything that can be negotiated (e.g., rate, deadline, rounds, word count, interviews).
  5. Make the client go first. Ask, “What’s your budget / rate?” You now have a base for negotiations.
  6. Speak to other freelancers. Ask freelancer groups, LinkedIn groups, references, etc. to see what others are charging for similar work.
  7. Pause or be silent for a while after the client states a position. Let them fill the gap.
  8. Make sure you feel good and right when negotiating. If something feels off (or you don’t feel well), tell the client you will get back in a couple of days. Schedule the follow up at a later date. You’ll feel better and be in a better position.
  9. Don’t feel pressured to respond with a number unless you are ready. Sleep on it. If you respond too quickly, you might come off as desperate. Also, don’t respond if the client is in disarray or disorganized. Negotiate from comfort and in a good position.
  10. Voice objections where merited. Increase your rate for rush jobs, complex topics, more interviews, or when other factors make the work more challenging.
  11. If they cannot meet your rate, leave the door open for future work – don’t burn bridges. Offer to be the backup plan if the client goes with another provider. Make sure they know other projects will be negotiated separately.
  12. Aim for project rates rather than hourly rates. Only you know how much you earn by the hour. You know what you will earn and the client knows the budget.
  13. Get everything in writing – contracts are a must. Know what and when you will be paid. No contract means no obligation to be paid.

More from The Editor’s Desk

Here are a few articles and blog posts I found worth sharing.

  1. There is a lot to be said in favour of writing blogs and articles in the first person (I / we). However, it often makes sense to write to the reader in the second person (you). Check out The second-person point of view from The Write Life for details on what’s involved in writing in the second person and why it can work for you.
  2. Every freelance writer needs a portfolio. How do you make one and what do you put in it? Check out How to create a portfolio that showcases your work from Freelance Writing Coach for what you need to know about putting together a portfolio.
  3. Do you like books? Do you like lists? Do you like lists of books? Check out 32 best books for bloggers and freelance writers that will make you successful from Moss Media for books that will… well, you know, it’s in the title.
  4. Do you wonder why you’re not as productive or creative as you could be, even though the pandemic has given you a lot of “free” time? Check out The Goldilocks theory from Austin Kleon for his view on why freelance writers don’t feel creative enough right now. His advice: Just make something, anything.
  5. Do you find that you use “very” or other modifiers too often in your writing? Do you want to use one good word instead of two average words? Check out Lose the Very for word choices to make your writing… exceptional.
  6. Your emails, articles, blog posts, and other content that goes out to potential and existing clients should have some type of call to action. End your content with something memorable. Check out 15 engaging ways to end your next blog post from Content Marketing Institute for suggestions on how to wrap up your blog post in a way that readers will remember.
  7. Speaking of ending, do you use a signature in your emails? It’s free marketing space – don’t let it go to waste. Check out The super signature from Cody Burch for an effective way to wrap up your email after your name.
  8. Being a productive writer can be a challenge. Check out Top 10 productivity tips from outstanding writers from Craft Your Content for strategies on being a more productive writer, no matter what you write.
  9. Creativity is difficult to nail down. Sometimes, the world just gets in the way. Check out Not everything you do has to be “original creative work” from Elisa Doucette for steps on getting over creative brain drain.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is 


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