In many cases, you don't know what a client is willing to pay you for a project when you are a freelancer. To get paid a fair rate that you can live with, you must use your own knowledge, confidence, and negotiation skills.

Tips for better negotiating as a freelancer are provided below.

1. Know your worth

To begin, you need to know what you have to offer. Negotiating a project based on the belief that you merely need something will not be helpful. To succeed in today's market, you need to develop your skills and understand what the market can offer. Don't worry if you don't have the skills right now. Take your time and build them.

2. Investigate the market

After you've established what the client is looking for and convinced them of your unique abilities, it's time to start your research. Get in touch with other freelancers and network with them so that you can learn what they charge for similar jobs.

3. Don't share your expected fee right away

Your position will be weakened if you disclose your expected fee first. Then you can respond, "I expect to be paid competitively based on market rates for this work." This will accomplish two things: you will not be tied to a lower fee and you can update your price as new information becomes available.

4. Don't share too much

Don't forget: The client is not your friend. They are there to obtain the best deal for the organization they represent. You should keep your intentions of changing clients under wraps if you're looking to switch due to recent unemployment. This shouldn't be shared with the client. In negotiating, sharing important information that they could use against you would only take away your leverage.

5. Make sure you have alternatives

The key to a successful negotiation is your willingness to walk away when things don't go your way. Finding alternative solutions helps you do this. It is always best to have a pipeline of potential clients coming in so that you will have options. 

6. Use email to negotiate

If you're an introvert, you'll appreciate the ease of negotiating over email. During a conversation, you are likely to be surprised and blurt out an answer without thinking it through. Negotiating via email allows you to reflect, consult with others, clearly state what you want, and respond in a timely manner. Furthermore, it provides the additional benefit of preserving everything in writing, should anything be forgotten.

7. Have a valid reason

Your goal is to earn more money based on the value of your skills, but the client may signal a low budget to get you to accept a lower rate. You should have excellent reasons for why you cannot settle for a lower charge in this instance. Then again, you might be the best in your field or you might have more experience. Providing a valid reason for your higher charge will help you negotiate better and give your argument more authority.

8. Defer your decision

Before deciding on an offer, make sure you consider all the factors. It's always better to say that you'll get back to those who matter to you after discussing it with them. Whether it is a friend whom you talk things through with, a significant other, or a member of your family, there is always someone to turn to. This gives you the chance to negotiate and bring up points you hadn't thought of earlier.

9. Establish trust

To reach a successful agreement, you must maintain your politeness, be cheerful, build trust, and sincerely work with the client. Rather than waste your and their time on a low-ball offer, it is better to decline the offer if it is too low for you even to consider. If, however, the offer is within your ballpark and can be improved, then you should negotiate. Keeping your expectations clearly allows you to build trust with the client, avoid back and forth, and make them feel like they are winning.

10. Be willing to work through problems

In a negotiation, neither party wins and neither party loses. While the pay may not be the most satisfying, there are other aspects to think about, such as the ability to work with the client, the flexibility, the network, etc. Consider other aspects that are important to you before declining the client if you enjoy working with them, but they can't afford as much as you would like.

Final Thoughts

The majority of freelancers avoid negotiating. Neither of us wants to appear greedy or demanding. Just remember that everyone is expecting you to negotiate. It is common for clients to provide a ballpark figure, saving room for negotiation. When you accept the first offer they make, you're wasting your money. It's your responsibility to negotiate.

Just because you negotiated, no one is going to reject you. Don't be shy about asking for what you want!

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