Get Paid What You’re Worth Q&A
In May, The nuSchool had a webinar called Getting Paid What You’re Worth. Because isn’t that what freelancing is all about?
These are some of the questions I was asked after the webinar. I promised to share my answers — so here they are. Enjoy them.
Q: Can you charge more for an urgent or last minute job?
A: Yes, for sure you can charge more for a last minute job. I always do it and I think it’s totally fine and fair. The client has to understand that we are in the middle of doing something else and by asking you to do a last-minute job, they’re asking you to push your other work away just in order to make time for them. This might raise some problems for you, so it’s totally cool to ask for 120%, or even 150%, of your regular hourly rate. When I negotiate projects with my clients, I sometimes offer them to do it super quickly and explain that I’ll be charging more if they go for this option. And if they really needed to be prepared as soon as possible, they will pay. Weekends are, for some of us, off-limits, but in the past I did a job over the weekend and charged 200% off my usual rates.
Q: How do you handle clients that never stop negotiating about prices, or is it better just to give up on such clients altogether?
A: The whole concept of getting paid what you’re worth is based on the fact that your client understands your value or that you can explain them your value. If you cannot or if it’s the type of clients that can’t understand the value of design, well, it wouldn’t work so I would rather just give up on such clients. Not only these clients don’t pay much they also tend to be the ones that ask for a million revisions and make your life a nightmare. Here’s a great post by Sivan Sa’ar about how clients get you to charge less.
Q: How would raising your rates affect older clients in comparison to new clients?
A: If your older clients are clients that still work with you, I would keep the same rates for them and raise your rates for the new ones., so the old ones will feel that they found you when you were still cheap and they will feel that they are working with a designer that now is more expensive because they have more experience. This will make them feel great.
Q: Does a better onboarding process help raise your rates? If it does, how do you make yourself seem more professional?
A: For sure, making yourself seem more professional will help you raise your rates. What you want to show is two things: first, your experience, and second, your authority – that you know what you’re talking about and that you have the skills needed for their potential work. As for experience, you’ll want to have at least a website showing past world that you’ve done. It doesn’t have to show all of them — just the good ones. Also, you’ll want to share the skills that you have, either by showing examples or providing a list of skills. Think about your potential clients and what will excite them. Sometimes when I’m trying to win a client, I think about what will make them really want to work with me, and then I go and update my website before our meeting or call. Here’s a great post by Dylan Baskind about portfolios.
Q: What’s the best approach to quote very specific projects (the ones that don’t involve a long list like web design) when your client has no clue about budget?
A: As we teach in The Pricing Class, you’ll have to figure out a few things: 1. What is the lowest price you can offer without making or losing any money on the project? This should be the minimum cost. 2. What is the value of the project for the client? Will they get more clients? Will they get brand awareness and get famous? 3. Do you REALLY understand all the small details? Make sure you do before you take a project that you’re going to suffer from.
A: How do you ask your clients for money without sounding demanding or needy but you really need the money!?
Q: Just be professional and ask for it because you did the work. Give them a simple example from things they are used to. You can’t get a hotel room without paying, right? You can’t buy clothes without paying, right? Same here. You work, they pay, it’s fair. Be cool about it and drink water before the call ;) Whatever happens, make sure the client pays.
A: How much detail do you put into a proposal without giving too much away before getting the job?
Q: I give all the details needed – I show that I understand what’s behind the project, I explain why I’m perfect for the job, what would be the prices (with 3 packages, remember?) and how long it would take me. If I’m afraid that the client might not want to work with me, I’ll wait with details about payments for after we meet/talk about the proposal. Here’s a great example for awesome proposal written by our student Tara.
Q: Will this Three Packages Technique work for proposals to clients we cold email?
A: No pricing/proposals should be sent EVER on cold emails. Would you ask someone to marry you with a cold email? Dealing with clients is like dating: First you just want them to meet you or call you, then you get to know each other, then you speak about the project, and only then should you speak money.
Q: How do you organize the payment process? E.g. do clients pay 50% before you start with the project, 90% after preview delivery, and 100% after sending finished version?
A: There’s a million ways to do this. Here’s what I do (but anything else can work as well!): I ask for 50% upfront, 25% after a milestone, and 25% after everything is approved. Not all clients are willing to pay 50% up front – which gives me space for negotiation. I am willing to get only 25% up front, in case they approve the prices I’ve asked for. Some designers I know from the nuSchool community ask for 100% upfront (!); I’ve never tried myself but I know it works for them.
Q: When should you raise your rates? How do you know when you should be raising your rates?
A: Anytime you feel you gained some experience or learned a new skill, you can raise your rates. Don’t expect linear growth since clients vary, but in the long-term you should always be raising your rates and get better and better clients. BTW – here’s a nice story about our student Margot that raised her rates – she did it because we told her she isn’t asking for what she’s worth!
Q: I read about using reverse psychology to actually put the biggest package on the left (first) and the smallest on the right. That way a client thinks ‘With this package I don’t get this” instead of “With this package I also get this”. What do you think?
A: I think that clients these days are not stupid and shoudn’t be manipulated. The 3 packages technique will work in any order, but the bad thing about putting the most expensive first is that they can be like “what is this package?! I didn’t ask for these things at all! This f**ker is trying to squeeze me” and be negative about the whole proposal. I prefer to first show them what they’ve asked for (package 1) and then show them the upsell.
Q: Do clients ever tell you they could go to Fiverr to make you decrease your rates?
A: Yes, and I recommend them specific people they can work with over there. I also helped a client once open his account on Wix and build a website himself.
Those clients usually are either cheap bastards (and then I’m not interested to work with) OR they get back to me saying “oh, now I got it and I’m willing to pay what’s needed”.
Either way – I would never say “oh, you’re right. Here, let me do it for $30 instead of $5 on Fiverr”. Here’s a great post Ran Segall wrote about it.
A: Can you raise your price without changing your target market? I mean if I work for small to medium businesses there will be a top what the market could pay.
Q: You’re right. But on the other hand you might get 5x faster with your work – which means that for that same money it takes you much less hours to do the job, leaving you more time for new clients.
Q: What was your starting price per hour as a freelancer?
A: My starting price per hour was $50. But that was theoretcally. Actually, what happened was that I sucked so much with timing, that I worked 10x more than I thought I would. So I actually worked for $5 an hour. Probably even less…
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