Section Three: How to Gain Leverage and Negotiate a Higher Rate

You need to know the art of negotiation as a freelance writer. There will be clients who really want to work with you but offer low rates. If they’re truly interested in you and your skills, there’s room for negotiating a higher rate.

But this can be a tricky area for a lot of writers because most of us are introverts by nature. We sometimes view negotiation as confrontation and often avoid it and take the low pay. Do not do that! Always advocate for your worth! Here are some tips I learned over the years to help you negotiate a higher rate.  

Showcase Your Value

The foundation of any negotiation is articulating and demonstrating your unique value proposition. Here’s how you can leverage this:

  • Portfolio Excellence: Your portfolio should not just be a collection of writings; it should tell a story of your growth, versatility, and ability to meet client needs. Highlight pieces that have driven significant results, such as increased website traffic or sales, showcasing the tangible impact of your work.
  • Testimonials and Reviews: Client testimonials serve as social proof of your expertise and professionalism. Display these prominently on your website or LinkedIn profile. If possible, include metrics or specific achievements (e.g., “X’s copywriting contributed to a 20% increase in our conversion rate”).
  • Specialized Skills: Emphasize any niche expertise or specialized skills that set you apart from the competition. If you possess knowledge in a high-demand area, make sure potential clients are aware of how this can benefit them directly.

Know When to Negotiate

Timing is everything in negotiation. Identifying the optimal moment to discuss rates can significantly influence the outcome:

  • Post-Project Success: Immediately after delivering a successful project is an opportune time to negotiate. Your client has just experienced the value of your work firsthand, making them more receptive to a discussion about rates.
  • Increased Demand: If you notice a surge in demand for your niche or skill set, it’s a signal that the market values what you offer. Use this as a bargaining chip in negotiations, highlighting the demand and your unique ability to fulfill it.
  • Renewal Discussions: Contract renewals or ongoing client relationships are perfect moments to revisit your rates. Approach the conversation with data and examples of your continued value and any additional responsibilities or skills you’ve taken on since the initial agreement.

The thing about negotiation is that it’s inextricably tied to the worth you’ve created for yourself. As you build your career and complete project after project, gauge your skill level and slowly increase your rates as you gain new clients, using your experience as leverage. 

Then, when it comes time to negotiate with an existing or long-standing client, you can politely explain that your rates have increased. But there’s value in a long-term gig and having consistency to rely on. So, while you’re expecting your client to come up, be prepared to meet them halfway in order to maintain that ongoing professional relationship. 

Prepare to Walk Away

The willingness to walk away is perhaps the most powerful tool in negotiation. I know it’s hard to turn down work in this industry, but getting stuck in a low-paying gig is worse than having no work at all.

So, you should always:

  • Set clear boundaries
  • Communicate your standards
  • Persist professionally