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I am Dale King, a specialist dental copywriter. I love to share my knowledge of working within the dental niche with other like-minded individuals. 

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negotiating skills

5 Negotiating Skills For Freelancers  – How To Get Rates That Work For You

If you want to get paid to create content as a dental writer you’ll need to ensure that you get rates that work for you. Negotiation skills are a core ingredient in doing exactly that, yet many freelancers struggle because it isn’t in our nature to openly talk about money. But talk about it we must – that is, if you really want to know how to get freelance writing rates that reflect what you’re worth.  

With this in mind, let’s discuss 5 key negotiating skills for freelance writers that enable you to get the rates you deserve.

Tip #1 – You aren’t going to win every battle

Here’s the thing… Not every prospect has the same mindset when it comes to negotiating rates. You’ll discover pretty quickly that clients who try to talk you down differ, and knowing which category they fall into will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.  Here are some that you’re likely to come across.

The penny pincher – This type of prospect always defaults to the cheapest option. They aren’t interested in experience or what you can bring to the table, they just want the job done at the cheapest possible price. Here’s the thing… you can’t negotiate with a penny pincher – Well, you could but you’d probably die trying! Instead, recognise them for what they are and say, “Thanks but no thanks” and move on.

Won’t hurt-to-askers – The second type of prospect will suggest a lower price because, well…it can’t hurt to ask, right? This is where you need to hold your nerve and stick to your guns.  When you flatly refuse, they’ll normally back down and say, “Okay, when  can we start?”    

Deal hunters – The third type of client loves to know that they’re getting a good deal. They’re so fixated on getting a discount that they’re unlikely to agree unless they get something off the original price. Bargaining with this type of client goes with the territory and this is where your negotiating skills come in. Go in with a slightly higher price than you’re comfortable with – normally around 20%  with the idea that you’re going to have to haggle. Once you’ve gotten past the initial agreement, deal hunters can often make great clients. 

Budgeters – The final set of prospects are the budgeters. They have a particular budget for the work needed and no amount of negotiation is going to change that. With this type of prospect, you should ascertain pretty quickly what that figure is because they’ll usually tell you.  That’s a good thing because you will know whether you’re able to work within the confines of that budget or not, without endless rounds of back and forth.

Understanding who you should and shouldn’t bargain with is a good negotiation skill to have in your locker and one that will save you a great deal of time and stress. Essentially, you must be prepared to lose projects because if you’ve done your sums and know your dental writing rates, you’ll know that not every client can afford you, and that’s a good thing.

#2 – Throw out a price range

Imagine the scenario, you’re talking to a prospective client over Zoom and everything seems to be going well and then they ask you the dreaded question, “How much will it cost?”  Suddenly, You’re like a rabbit caught in the headlights, your palms become sweaty and you blurt out a figure without thinking. The question is… how do you give a ballpark figure when you don’t yet know the full extent of the project?

The answer…

Give them a rough price range. If it’s a complex article requiring in-depth research, you might want to give them an hourly rate. Remember, it’s not just about words on the page. As an example, I say something like…

 “For a project of this nature, I charge xxx per hour. Now, it may take me 4-5 hours to research and write, or it may take me 10 hours, depending upon the scope of the project. So, based on this, It’s likely to fall somewhere between xxx amount and xxx amount.”

Throwing out a “from and to” price not only gives the client a rough figure to work to but also gives you flexibility within this scale, should things take longer.

#3 – Make the workload fit the budget

Here’s a question… What do you do if your prospect’s intended budget doesn’t quite fit yours? I’m not talking about monetary expectations that are miles apart but instead, let’s consider a budget that’s relatively close but not quite there. In these situations, you could let the client know what you can do for their budget rather than flat-out refuse. For instance, you could suggest writing 5 articles per month rather than the 10 they initially intended.  Alternatively, a lower word count may also be a good way of fitting work into budget constraints – say, 1000 words instead of 1500. Essentially, making the workload fit your budget only works when…
  • Client/freelancer expectations aren’t that far apart, and
  • The prospect is willing to negotiate in the first place.

As long as these two factors are in place, a workload vs budget rejig is a good negotiating skill or tactic to have in your locker. Essentially, the client gets the work they need,  with a few tweaks to the initial brief, and you get to charge what you’re worth.

#4 – Steer the conversation away from discounts

The last thing you really want to do is to get sucked into a discount war with a potential client, so here are some responses you can quote to stop this from happening…

Too expensive – “No problem, I’m happy to remove something from the scope, if that helps”.

Unfortunately, I have budget constraints – “That’s okay…What if we spread the payment over, say, three months?”

I’m looking for the best deal –  “Because we’re miles apart at this time, I’ll remove your project from my current workload and reschedule something if you decide to get back to me”

Remember, you’re not the bargain bin at the local discount store, you’re a professional writer with valuable skills. Meaning that you’re justified in charging your rates to make their lives easier. So, the reality is that discounts really shouldn’t come into it.

#5 – Be prepared to walk away

We’ve all done it… We’ve all taken on projects that don’t quite fit our skillset or budget. Trust me, when you do this, you’ll almost always end up regretting it. Instead, the best negotiating skill, and the one that’s hardest to learn, yet is arguably the most satisfying, is to say “No, this is not for me.” Doing so will save you a ton of stress in the future.

I had to do this recently with a potential client, and this was a regular dental blogging gig. We were just miles apart in terms of negotiating a project price. So, I explained this to the client and told them that I was going to turn it down at this time, but I would hook them up with a writer that might be a better fit. I connected the client with the writer and it all turned out well in the end.

Remember, if you’re winning every project that comes your way, then you’re probably not charging enough, and understanding when a project is not a good financial fit is one of the key skills you can have as a freelancer.

If you’re new to dental writing, or freelancing in general and want to know more, why not download my guide to becoming a fully-fledged dental writer or subscribe to my blogs? You’ll find a ton of helpful hints and tips to help you avoid the pitfalls and steer you on your journey.

Here’s to your success!