Freelancer Problem #1: What’s your WIN?
Forget about individual projects right now. Where are you dong to be in 3 years? Is your freelance work part of your entrepreneurial business plan that will see you starting a major enterprise? Or would you like to end up working at his company? Or are you just using freelance work as a side-hustle until you do something else? Maybe you’re involved with NGOs or organizations that do socially important work that you support.
The key strategic issue is how this freelance assignment fits in with your bigger picture goals.
That is going to be key to figuring out how much to invest in getting the job — and how much you’re going to get paid.
Figure out your base rate. We’ll look at this in much more detail at a later time, but if you want plan on grossing $100K in a year, you’ll need to earn $400 per day, or $2000 per week.
So if $400 per day is your base, you now have to think about how much you are willing to adjust your price -- premiums as well as discounts. .
For an ordinary assignment, your base rate is a great place to end up. If it is an industry or cause that you really care about, you can give a significant discount if it means getting the job. And what about a difficult client or an industry that you don’t care about — or will have to do a lot more work to complete? Add in a premium that ill make it worth your while.
There Really is More to the Freelance Life than Money
But if money is your only variable, you can count on having lots of highly competitive negotiations that end in conflict or disappointment. Good negotiators have good goals, and that is especially true for freelancers. Maybe all you care about is cash, but there should be other items on our list wish.
What are other potential variables? What else do you care about?
- Promoting your own business.
Recommendations, likes, testimonials, and other social proof on your sites & profiles. Yes, you have to negotiate this. You probably have to write the copy, as well.
- Access to resources.
This covers two areas. 1st - will you have access to the finished product or site? Are youallowed to talk about your contributions? Will you be able to reach webpages & samples of your own work? (Don't assume anything.) 2nd - Do you need access to their internal resources to do your job? Academic clients are notoriously cash-poor, but have access to impressive databases & online sources. Your client also has internal experts & decision-makers. If you need access to their resources, bring this up early. It’s usually pretty easy for them to share non-cash resources.
As a freelancer, are you part of their extended family - or some shadowy figure on the periphery? Great question. Freelancers never really know their position in the organization, but it’s not necessarily fixed. You can negotiate/maneuver to get access to people. This can be social ( “Hi Carol — I’ll be around your offices late Wed afternoon. Any chance of drinks?), official (attending project meetings — preferably in person), or virtual (email lists, groups, webinars, conference calls, etc.).
Is face-time (actually being in the same room — not the app) a benefit or a cost? That depends on your goals. If you want to work with this client again — or on a permanent basis — then getting next to decision-makers is crucial. If you are interested in eventually competing with them, get to know their marketers.
- Social Good.
If you are involved with NGOs, academia, or charities, then you almost certainly will be asked to work for free or nearly-free. This is very rewarding for some people, but variables 1 and 2 definitely apply.
- Just the Cash, thank you.
If all you want is to get paid, then you still have a little negotiating to do. The same companies that want your contributions YESTERDAY!!! suddenly get very relaxed & laid-back when it comes to paying you. Freelancers in powerful positions can ask for a schedule of payments that includes advances and disbursements triggered by completed deliverables. Freelancers in weaker positions can try to insist on quick payment, but it’s usually not very effective.