It is a dreaded question, which freelancers unfortunately often have to face: “Can my business get a discount?” The answer is never an easy one, it is difficult to determine whether or not a flat-out refusal will lose you a client straight away. A positive answer on the other hand might mean getting less money than your work is worth and nobody wants that. So should you, as a freelancer, offer discounts?
This is not a once in a lifetime choice – it is extremely dependent on the situation. That’s why we’ve composed a list with the pros and cons of giving out discounts on your freelance rates which should help you decide for yourself.
1) Getting your client into a mindset that anything is negotiable
One of the biggest drawbacks of offering discounts is that it gives the impression that you are willing to make exceptions. This could lead to your client wanting to negotiate everything else. You think the project will take up a month of your time – can we agree on three weeks? If you do decide to offer a discount, keep this in mind and make it perfectly clear that it’s not something you usually do and it does cost you.
2) Devaluating your work
When clients see that you are willing to offer a discount, they might think that your initial proposal was set too high in the first place. On the one hand, this could lead them to thinking that you’re trying to rip them off by setting a too high initial price. On the other hand, the lower you’re willing to charge the less your actual work tends to be valued. Most people think that a big price tag means great quality work and vice versa.
3) The promise of additional work is often untrue
Promising a long-term business partnership is often a way to squeeze out a discount out of freelancers. The client might just take your work at the lower rate you agreed on because of the prospect of future work and then go back on that promise. The easiest way to avoid that trap is to draft a contract between you and the potential client as a means of protection.
1) Projects/Clients that you really want to be involved with
Sometimes, however, you might want to make a discount. A huge client or project could be worth it – are you really excited about a certain potential client or a project? Or maybe it’s just something that would look so good on your portfolio that it would jumpstart you career. In these situations, you might want to consider a discount.
2) Adding to your experience and getting some cash
Especially at the start of your freelancing career, you might want to go back on your rates a little bit if things are not going that well. Discounts can lure in clients and help you build up your skills. And having some work is generally better than having no work at all. But be very, very careful – if you can provide quality work it is better to convince your client with the skills you have rather than discounts.
3) Nurturing your business relationship
Having worked a long time with a certain client is not reason enough to offer them lower prices. After all, a regular employee wouldn’t start working for less money after being at the same company for years. Neither should you. But if a long-term client keeps offering you challenging and interesting work, you might want to consider sweetening the deal in order to nurture your business relationship.
To sum it up, be careful with discounts, but don’t dismiss them altogether – you might be missing out on some exciting opportunities.
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