As a freelance creative, there comes a time when one must haggle. Usually it’s early on. But if you find yourself negotiating your price with potential clients late in the game, you’re long overdue for a shift in how you communicate your creative practice and service prices.

If you’ve ever felt that burning thought returning time and again during the course of the project, it’s a reminder that you’ve been suckered into a raw deal.

And yet, somehow you might also be blaming the client for allowing you to barter for your skills. 

Imagine not having to haggle with every new lead who drops you an email. Why is it that freelance copywriters (and, to be fair, designers) are the ones who seem to have gotten this collective raw deal?

It’s like everyone expects to haggle as if we were up for display on a wooden shelf in your Sunday flea market.

You don’t haggle with your surgeon. So then why do prospects who value their brand want to haggle with a copywriter who’s about to work on their business?

This is what will happen if you start turning away hagglers:

You’ll suddenly have a decrease in leads. But don’t be alarmed. The remaining leads, the ones you can count on your fingers, are your quality leads.

Instead of wasting your time haggling with every single headache that comes your way, you’ll be saving time and calling out your more-than-fair rates.

This will free up your time to actually deliver your services and fulfill awesome expectations, giving you time to figure out ways to further grow your copywriting practice as well. 

Don’t be scared. Trust that it’s liberating. I understand if you really need the money, but your time is still valuable, so try to get something out of it. That means don’t do free tests and trials and other such nonsense.

Always go into a negotiation with a mutually beneficial outcome in mind.

Here’s a quick way to eliminate potential hagglers:

Don’t lower your price. Raise it.

Price what you’re worth.

Don’t give away your thinking for free. You are NOT in the business of giving away your time (or money) for free. And you doing it hurts everyone because it helps set a standard.

You want to give away a “free” lead magnet? You’re still getting an email address in exchange, right? (I don’t know about you, but to me, an interested lead’s email address is much more valuable than a lead magnet I took a little time writing.) 

So what do you NOT give away? Free work.

And if you offer cheap prices at first, with promises of future work, do you really think they’re going to pay you better with the next project? (Why should they? They just got you on the cheap.)

Starting out cheap places a price anchor on your client’s head. You’ve already devalued yourself. It’s some wishful thinking to believe they’ll start paying you fair with your next project.

After all, if you show them you don’t value your own time (and price it accordingly), why should they?

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