At this writing, I’m sitting at my new desk. It’s a solid oak mission-style desk with a keyboard drawer and no other storage. And yes, that’s exactly the way I want it.
I’m a hoarder of sorts – not to the level of being on a reality cable show, but I save books, papers, notes that I can’t decipher a year later, you name it. I store around me, and organize useless stuff atop any flat surface. My old desk had a hutch top. Great idea – unless you’re me. It was filled with “essentials” such as nail polish, cuticle softener, batteries, assorted cords, containers filled with paper clips, etc. When I bought the desk, I bought it on looks alone. Function is something I have to work out without the help of a manufacturer. This served the purpose – a bigger workspace. And already I’ve pared down and thrown out a ton of unnecessary things. More to come.
I was talking with a writer chum about her latest project proposal. Her client offered to pay her going rate for one month, but then asked for a slight decrease in price thereafter for the next three months. What to do? She did the smart thing – she defined “slight decrease” and set in her own mind what would be acceptable. Whatever the outcome, she went into the negotiations with the confidence of knowing her price was right for her – as well it should be.
I can relate – I was just asked to reduce my rate by a client. It was a one-time reduction to fit within their remaining freelance budget. And it was a very small reduction, so I said yes. They’re also a favorite client and to me, this is good for the relationship to be flexible when I can be.
So what do you do when someone asks for a price reduction up front?
Decide your own limits. Please, do this first. Know in your head the amount you need to turn a profit and pay your bills. No one else can know that but you. Make a pact with yourself – don’t go under this limit. Stick to your word.
Define the reduction. Get it in writing – what are they paying at all stages of that contract? What is their idea of a reduction? Is it reasonable or another attempt to get something for nothing?
Do the math. If you let the client say, “I know you charge $100 an hour, but my budget is $1,200 for the whole project” and you don’t know what your limits are, you’ll be tempted to take it because hey, $1,200 isn’t entirely chump change. However, if the project is going to take you three months to complete, you’ve just screwed yourself. Know all the details up front.
If it doesn’t fit, walk away. Why writers are hesitant to turn down work is understandable. We do have to pay bills. But if you accept every job that is paying less than you can afford to work, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to get a better project paying your rate. Seriously. If you’re busy killing yourself for a few bucks an hour, you don’t have time to look for better clients, do you?
How do you respond to price-reduction requests? What has been your experience with reducing your fee to meet a client’s needs?