Breaking into any industry can be difficult as a freelancer, particularly when you haven’t got an impressive career and a glowing portfolio to ease your foot in the door. As a fresh-faced freelancer eager for experience, you’ll often find you’re being asked to work for peanuts – or even for free.
But if you can’t afford to survive on baked beans for a year, you don’t need to pack up and start searching for employment. We’ve got some tips on how to secure freelance work, without working for free.
Stand your ground
Often, clients will attempt to push the boundaries to see how low you’re willing to go. So whilst secretly you may be desperate to secure the business, don’t show your vulnerability. Instead, stand your ground and say that your prices are non-negotiable, and you’d be surprised at how many clients will respect and value you more for doing so.
However, it can be beneficial to seem like you’re willing to negotiate when dealing with new clients, particularly if you have very little leverage. So instead of putting your prices down, why not see how you can sweeten the deal?
Perhaps you can throw in a consultation, strategy planning or a few extra pieces of work. Showing that you’re actively looking to add value will not only make your services an easier sell – it will also build relationships with your clients.
Economies of scale
When you’ve just made the leap to self-employment, achieving a full working week can be difficult at first. So if you do have room to negotiate with your pricing, focus on filling your schedule where possible.
Offering a discount for larger projects or long-term contracts will ensure you have regular work, and will justify working for a little less than your usual rate. To this end, develop a business model that allows you to offer economies of scale, and leave at least 10% wiggle room on your headline rate.
Prove your worth
Let’s get one thing straight – working for no money isn’t always unacceptable, provided you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. The key is to monetise the agreement, to ensure there is a paid role at the end. If a client is asking you to work for free, suggest completing a free ‘trial’ piece of work to prove your worth, but only if you’re sure that there is guaranteed paid work ahead.
Life as a freelancer can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to make ends meet at the start, but value your services and stand your ground and you’ll soon see your resilience pay off. Learn how to negotiate and gain the respect of new and potential clients, to build long-term relationships and raise your profile in the industry.
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