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How to Negotiate with a Client on a Freelance Project


For many types of remote workers, the overwhelming majority of their work-at-home jobs involve a freelance project or a 1099 contracting situation, where a business needs work done, but doesn't want to pay a full-time on-site staff person. As a result, freelancers need to know how to negotiate prices for the services they provide to corporate and business clients. Every independent contractor or other work-at-home freelancer has her own methods and ways of winning contracts from potential employers. Here are some of the popular tips that experienced freelancers offer for succeeding in project negotiations.

Bill By the Project

Apart from the occasional exception, those who are hiring freelance contractors generally don't view job payment in terms of an hourly rate. The client is looking for a job to get done, and often offers a set amount for freelancers who can facilitate their plans. As a result, freelancers often get paid by the project rather than by the hour - and many of them prefer it this way. Veteran freelancers often reveal that negotiating by the project and can get more money than asking for an hourly rate, especially if they have specialized tools, professional skills and other assets that help them accomplish jobs quicker, making more money in a given period of time.

Look at the Client's Budget

Being able to put yourself in a client's shoes is a major part of successful project negotiation for a freelancer. It's important to understand that businesses can only pay on projects according to their budgets, and that hard-line negotiations are unlikely to generate more payment than the business can comfortably afford. Project managers have their sights set on specific benchmarks.  While freelancers can talk about details of a project that may bring it more in line with their expectations, focusing on the needs of the client and their available budget can win more contracts at prices that will be worth the work done.

Provide Variable Prices for Services

Another handy tip that can be useful in negotiating projects is having a tiered set of services. Business clients who can't handle the "premium" rates can get results with less of the bells and whistles that cost more for the freelancer to deliver. This principle can be a match-maker when the budget of the client and the pay demands of the freelancer don't quite meet up.

Successful Negotiations: Embellishing the Positives

The best contracting initiators are always affable and friendly, while staying firm on their desired pay rate and other fixed principles. Freelancers who play up positives like being local, or present flexibility, can have a better chance at landing a contract. Staying engaged in the process often helps as well: waiting days to return an email will sink many a project negotiation.

Keep the above in mind when dealing with the often complex job of hashing out payment agreements for the freelance project opportunities that knock on your door.

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