How to compete with freelancers who have lower prices than you


Pricing is probably the most-discussed topic among freelancers. It’s difficult to set the right price. To make matters worse, there always seems to be competition that is willing to take on a project for less money than you are. In order to compete with that, freelancers must think like their clients: Whether they pay 20 or even 50 percent less for a given project, it won’t do them any good if the project turns out bad or doesn’t get finished at all.


You have to focus on quality and value and stick to your price – here’s how to do it:

1. Underline your value

We’ve established that the work you do is not about quantity or saving a couple of dollars, but about quality. Now you have to convey that to your client. As a freelancer, you know how to do that. Show off your biggest, best projects – help your client connect all that experience on your CV with something real. Secondly, be professional and keep your deadlines. Being hung out to dry is the biggest fear that clients have. Earn their trust by showing them this isn’t a risk they’ll have to take when working with you.

2. Pick the right clients

Quality should be your motto. Some clients, however, won’t be interested in that – especially inexperienced, small business owners might not be willing to pay more for that. You should still try to convince them, but don’t beat yourself up about it if they don’t go along. Some clients are just looking for someone to do a lot of grunt work for a low rate. Make it clear to them that you’re not that someone. Trust me, you don’t want to be working with clients that don’t value quality. They won’t respect your decisions or your work.

In that line of thought, the best clients are former clients. They know your rates, they know how you work and if you’re talking about price, they want to work with you again. So here’re some tips on keeping in touch with former clients. Other clients that tend to go for quality over quantity are the ones that have worked with freelancers in the past. They’ve probably experienced the good and the bad – it’s just about convincing them you’re not part of the latter.

3. Have a minimum rate

Setting a minimum rate is an indispensable strategy when you find yourself being undercut by your competition. It sets a line that you’re not willing to cross. A good way to find that magic number is to take the top 60 percent of your projects by pay and not go under their average amount. Keep in mind that this number is there as much for the client as it is for you.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of saying – “yeah, sure, maybe if I cut my rate by 10 percent just this once”. More often than not, it won’t be just this once – maybe you’ll work with that client again, maybe somebody will find out how much they paid you and will request the same discount. Calculate a minimum rate and stick with it. Don’t forget to repeat the process about once a year, your minimum should ideally go up in that period.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

Finally, when bad comes to worse, set your foot in front of the line that is your minimum rate and refuse to go any further. If a client isn’t willing to pay what you’re worth, just back out. Sometimes they’ll still want to work with you and wanted to see how far you would be willing to lower your price. Underselling yourself is almost never a good idea.

Have any questions or thoughts on this article? Feel free to post your comments below, we’re always happy to hear from our readers!

Pic: © lassedesignen
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