How To Compete With Freelancers With Lower Rates
I think it’s an incredible thing how people from all walks to life now have the same opportunities because of the internet. Anyone can sell their services online and help make people’s lives a bit easier. But it also means the global talent pool is much bigger, and you’re always going to find people who can do what you do, and charge their clients less.
In the past year, I’ve been exposed to more objections to my rates than I was ready for. A handful of potential clients outright asked me this question:
Why should I hire you, when I could hire someone for half your rate?
I won’t lie, the first few times, it feels like a gut punch. It’s not easy when someone questions your value, especially when you’re already on the fence about it yourself. My answer to this question would usually go one of two ways.
A) Me stammering, trying to convince them that I have experience and they won’t regret hiring me.
B) Just caving all together and saying my rates were negotiable and I could go lower.
But I knew, once they asked this question, I had already lost. I failed to make a first impression that communicated my value and positioned me as the expert.
Those experiences helped shed some light on what I needed to do to make my value known, position myself as the expert, and not take it personally when people can’t afford my rates.
I stopped worrying about whether or not clients could afford me. Because I knew as long as I’m doing these things, that I’m going to outline below, they’ll see the value, or they won’t. And if they don’t, it’s time to move on.
Emphasize long-term value over the upfront costs
Don’t view your project as a one-off deliverable. Show the client how your services will impact their business long term.
When you’re chatting with a potential client, don’t make it into a job interview. Take control of the conversation by doing your homework and being ready with information about how your services will make a significant impact (aka make them more money).
Companies that are looking for someone to do what they say and minimize their workload are not the same companies who are going to hire a high-ticket freelancer to come in and innovate their process or impact growth. So it’s essential to bring this up in your initial conversation to know if it’s even worth your time to continue persuing this client.
I was naive in thinking that clients would just hire me on the spot, with no objections, when I hadn’t given them any reason to. The best way to be ready to answer questions about your rates is to plan for them. Assume that the subject is going to come up and have a response ready.
Your response should be about how what you do will benefit the business long term. Talk about how you are a solution to the problem they have. If you can, weigh your rates against the amount of time and money, you will save them in the long run.
Position yourself as an expert
As a freelancer, it’s always a good idea to build your own brand that compliments the work you do. Create content for your industry. Offer free value where ever you can. This will help position you as an expert and give you more credibility and leverage come time to meet with a client.
Beyond creating content and brand building, have real examples and case studies ready of how you’ve helped businesses in similar positions. If you can point to specific instances where you’ve helped a client achieve a goal, and have the data and skillset to back that up, you’ll showcase your value without having to explain yourself or defend your rate.
Look for clients who need a solution, not a deliverable
Approach clients who are problem aware but not solution aware. Clients who are solution aware already have an idea of what they need and are more likely to be shopping around for the lowest price. Anyone who wants to get the best deal has already made their decision about the value they’re looking for, and it’s usually not worth your time trying to change their mind.
Identify companies who have expressed a problem or businesses who you have noticed have a problem — presenting them with a solution that will save them time and make them more money. They will value you more than companies who are just looking for a quick fix and shopping around for the best deal.
Set boundaries and stick to them
Be confident in your rates and your services and don’t waver in the face of objection. When times are tough, and all you need is a paycheck, it can seem like an easy win to lower your rates and deal with it later. Clients who don’t see your value upfront are almost always the ones who want to leach the most out of you without paying you anymore.
At the end of the day, if you’re out of someone’s budget, then it is what it is. You don’t want to spend time convincing someone who just doesn’t have the money to pay you.
Businesses can hire people from anywhere in the world, regardless of location. For some companies, it can mean the difference between growing a team or continuing to run solo.
Working remotely, especially freelancing remotely, gives people all over the world equal opportunity to apply to the same jobs, offer the same services, and help people more people with their skills.
There is room for all of us, and just because someone is okay with a lower rate than you, doesn’t mean you need to lower your price to compete, and it doesn’t mean that your services aren’t worth what you’re asking.
As long as you stand behind your offer, have services that add value to the business overall, and approach every opportunity with confidence, there are clients out there that will want to work with you.
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