How to negotiate without budging on price

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Once I quote a job, I fiercely resist changing the price. But that doesn’t mean I won’t negotiate.

If you ask me for help with idea development, editing, coaching, or ghostwriting, I’ll get you a quote. Same for a corporate writing workshop. Like any other freelancer, my quotes are based on two things:

  1. How many hours will it take?
  2. What’s the value of the work to you?

This, along with an hourly rate justified by my background and based on my experience with many other quotes accepted and rejected, enables me to give you a price. I know what my market will pay. And I’ll stick with it. Begging won’t make me change it. Once we get started, I still won’t change it, even if the job is harder or more time-consuming than I thought it would be. So long as you don’t change the scope, I’ll still do it for that price.

And yet, I can still negotiate.

What’s left to discuss?

Here’s a bunch of ways we could make the job fit your budget:

  • Limit the scope. Maybe you just need me to edit one pass, not two. Or I can come up with copy for two web pages, not twelve.
  • Ask me what else I can throw in. Want me to look at your author bio, too? Want me to have a short conversation with your staff after we’re done? This stuff is easy for me and may be valuable to you. So let’s talk about it.
  • Change the terms. Can I use what we create for other projects? Can I advertise that I worked with you? These terms might make the project more valuable to me — which would incline me to work harder to find a way we can come to agreement.
  • Change the deadline. If I can get to this whenever I have free time, as opposed to right now, then I might be open to a change in the rate. But don’t count on this, as it’s highly dependent on my other projects.
  • Change the speed. Ironically, I’m also attracted to projects where I can start and finish immediately and don’t have to wait. Depending on my workload, maybe you can qualify for the rush discount.
  • Give me something of value. Free hardware or software? Purchase copies of my book? Money isn’t the only way to pay me.

Notice what’s not on this list: publicity. I don’t work for free or at a discount for “the exposure.” While I’d be excited to get more work from you, I won’t discount current work in the hopes of potential future work. Finally, I won’t work for a share of your future revenues. My family can’t eat a share of your future revenues.

The price is the price. But I’m sure we can find a way to make it work.

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