We’ve all been there at some point in our freelance career where a potential client will ask us about a discounted rate. If you haven’t come across that, it’s very likely that you will.
There’s lots of reasons why a client may ask, and most of the time it comes off as rude. Would you ask the cashier at Target to get that cute shirt for a lower price just because?
You’ve worked hard to get to the point where you are now in your freelance career. You’ve fairly set your rates, and probably even raised them over the years, so you can support yourself AND keep your business flowing smoothly.
So what do you say when a client asks for a discount?
You’ve done your research and spent lots of time figuring out a good rate to charge your clients (which is no easy feat). So if someone asks you for a discount, do you really want to throw that time and effort out the window?
Accepting discounts can lower your perceived value and also sets the bar lower for your entire field. There will always be someone who has lower rates, but if creatives keep pricing their work lower and accepting discounts often, then potential clients will keep asking for them.
A simple email along the lines of this will work fine:
My business has grown to a point where I can, unfortunately, not offer discounted prices. I have raised my prices over the years to reflect my expertise, equipment [or other software you use for your business], and to keep up with supply and demand. This allows me to ensure each client is getting a custom experience that is worth every penny.
Working in a creative field isn’t easy, but many people seem to think we just sit at home making pretty things. Standing firm to your rate not only shows confidence, but also helps weed out those not-so-serious clients and find the ones who truly appreciate your work and want to partner with you.
Contrary to the popular belief, not all clients are out to get you for the lowest rate they can—sometimes it’s just part of their business practice. Try not to take it too personally, but do stand strong in your decision.
Let them know why you’re worth the investment
Your work should speak for yourself, but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that some clients just won’t understand—and that’s okay.
We each have our own process, some more involved than others. How thorough is your process? What do you do that makes you stand out from the competition?
Maybe you have a client portal that allows your client to be super involved along the way. Or maybe you offer 3 rounds of logo revisions, while your competition only has 2.
Let them see into your process so they can get a better idea of what it is that you do and why that makes you the perfect person to hire.
Show them your worth and quality of service you provide. If they don’t feel that’s justified, that’s fine. Let them find someone else, because they’re not your ideal client anyway.
But didn’t you just say to stand firm on your prices?
But you don’t have to negotiate your price.
Are there different package or tiers of your services that you can negotiate?
For example, instead of 30 images, what if you tried 20? Or even 10? Sometimes clients are on the fence about a big investment. Starting a smaller project together is a great way to build trust and see if you are both a good fit, too.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can also offer loyalty rates. If a client is looking for lots of images or long-term assistance such as coaching or web maintenance, perhaps you have a 3 month plan at a lower rate. Some clients are looking for a good deal, and if you can secure yourself a consistent income for the next 3 months and create work in bulk, that’s a big win-win for both parties.
Of course, only do this if it makes sense for your business.
Accept that it’s just not meant to be sometimes
There will always be those clients looking for the lowest rate. If that’s your audience, then perfect! But more than likely, you probably don’t want those clients.
In my experience, I found that the clients who want to pay the least amount are also the most difficult. Those who value your rates will value your expertise. Those who want to pay you pennies seem view you as a tool for creating that thing that you do—not an expert in your field with a great client experience.
Do ya pick up what I’m puttin’ down?
There’s many ways to deal with a potential client asking for a discount. Remember to stand firm and confident in your prices—you set them there for a reason.
You need to support yourself.
You need to pay the bills.
You need to be able to enjoy your life with your set rates.
Negotiate packages with your client, so they can see how great you are and still stay within their budget.
And if a potential client can’t accept your rates, that’s okay, too. Being a creative entrepreneur is a difficult career path, but working within your rates with clients who respect you makes it much easier.
What about you, do you have any tips about dealing with clients asking for discounts? Feel free to drop them in the comments below!