The one where we learn when to negotiate our rates

Know your worth.

Hello friend,

It’s officially September, which means it’s almost the start of Fall, which means it’s almost my favorite time of the year. We’re also almost about to approach my busiest time of the year, which means the sales calls and negotiations really start to pick up starting, well, last week.

At The Taproom, we’ve never shied away from the fact that we’re not cheap. It’s almost become a thing we hear when we’re recommended – “The Taproom does great work, but they’re also expensive.” (You get what you pay for, my friend!) It’s the same with my consulting rate. I charge $400/hr, and a lot of people will see that number and run in the other direction. That’s fine! But occasionally I’ll get someone who sees my rates and decides to fight back.

So let’s talk about negotiations.

This week I received an email from someone interested in some consulting work. I have my rates publicly available on my website, so there’s no time wasted when deciding if I’m within budget or not. Yet this person decides to send me an email anyway, stating:

I see your rates and hope we can come to a reasonable rate to work together.

First off, yikes. Second, this is not an uncommon occurrence. I’ve been freelancing since I was 14 and have dealt with people saying I charge too much and trying to knock me down in some way to get me to drop my rates. (My personal favorite is “well, you’re still in college, so you’re not a professional yet.”)

So how do we handle these situations?

  • If you’re going to drop the price of a project, remove something from the scope of work. This is something I am forever firm on both with freelancing outside of The Taproom and dealing with our more enterprise clients within The Taproom. You set your rates for a reason. Keep them where they are. (I may occasionally adjust my rates if I’m working with a non-profit or am doing a favor for a friend. But favors for friends are a whole different topic for another email so be careful with that one.)

  • If someone says “I can’t afford you but really want to work with you,” it’s a compliment and should be taken as one. I usually reply with something along the lines of, “I’ll be here when my rates are more within your budget and will be rooting you on in the meantime.” You can be supportive without bending to meet their needs.

  • Consider offering a product that can give an introduction to your services until they can afford you. For example, if you manage social media ads for clients, offer a mini-course or ebook on how they can get set up on their own for a certain amount. If they can’t afford, say, $5,000/mo, they can maybe buy your $600 course or $30 ebook to at least get started. That way you’re both still getting something out of the deal.

These are all important to remember, but I can’t stress point #1 enough.

Know your worth. There will always be people who say you charge too much (and even some who say you don’t charge enough!). This is your business. You call the shots. Don’t let someone bully you into decreasing your rates. The types of clients who are trying to take control of your company are going to be the worst clients to work with after you start your project.

Until next week,

Kelly