negotiating tips for freelancers

5 Negotiation Tips For Winning Over Freelance Clients

Not every client is going to agree with your point of view.

Especially when you’re negotiating project scope and price, most clients will often disagree with you.

Or suggest their own ideas that contradict your own ideas.

On such occasions, knowing how to respond to clients without being rude or hurting the client’s feelings is very important.

Today, I’m sharing a few negotiation tips and tricks you can use to convince your client to follow your own ideas. Or even help you earn more from the projects.

1. Your Price Is Too High

client price too high

This is one of the most common responses almost all freelancers get from clients.

You send a well-crafted proposal and write a killer message to convince the client of your abilities, skills, and experience. And the client says your price is too high.

Now, your immediate reaction would be to yell at the client “How could you be so cheap?”

Well, don’t react with that immediate thought.

This client obviously has no idea how you come up with your price. Or why you are worth the price. Your job now is to convince them that you’re worth the price.

You can do this by asking them a few questions and helping them realize the value of your work. It could go something like this:

Freelancer- “John, I understand your concern. I’m wondering, what are you hoping to achieve from this new logo design?”

The client- “We mainly want to refresh the old logo. And update all our social channels with new branding”

Freelancer- “Do you think this new logo will contribute to more sales and conversions?”

The client- “Hopefully, yes we hope it will bring more visitors to our site.”

Freelancer- “That’s wonderful. John, I’m confident this logo will be a great investment for your brand in the long term and I guaranteed that I’m going to do my best to make it worth the price.”

“I think compared to the brand exposure, traffic, and sales you’ll get after this new logo, the project cost will pay for itself. But if it’s still too high, I could suggest you a few freelance marketplaces you could go to find an affordable designer.”

This kind of response will surely throw the client off balance because it’s not what they’d expect from you.

And it’s also a great way to show off professionalism and authority. Because you’re basically saying that you know your worth and you can find another client pretty easily.

2. I Have A Very Small Budget

client asking for discount

I’ve received this type of messages many times.

It always goes something like “I have a very small budget. Could you offer a discount?”

My typical response to this is something like this:

“John, I totally understand your position. I’ve worked with many clients in the past, including brands like X and Y, I offered them the same rate as what I offered you. If I lower the rate, I’m afraid it will be unfair to all my previous clients.”

“But if the quality is not crucial to you, I can point you towards a few freelancers and agencies that offer much lower rates than what I asked for”

Again, this approach is similar to the one I explained earlier. It’s all about showing the client that you don’t “have” to take the job.

Most clients believe that your livelihood depends on them. And it’s okay to prove them wrong once in a while.

3. Can You Do X, Y, and Z As Well?

client scope creep

Sometimes the client will agree with your asking price but then ask you to do some extra work at the same time.

These types of clients are called “Scope Creeps”. They outline the project and negotiate the price. And then they sneakily add a few more tasks into the project, without paying for the additional work.

This is why it’s important to have a clear understanding of the scope of the project before you get started.

So make sure you ask all the right questions to get a good idea of the project scope. And get your project outline approved by the client.

But, if the client tries to sneak in some extra work anyway, like asking a web designer to optimize the pages for SEO as well, you could respond like this:

“John, I’m good at website design and UX design. But I’m not experienced in SEO so I don’t want to deliver a terrible product to you. So I recommend that you hire an SEO agency to optimize the pages for search engines. Or I could recommend a few freelancers to you.”

4. Could You Send A Free Sample?

client asking free sample

The most popular type of clients on freelance marketplaces. The “work for exposure” client is usually a scam artist looking to get you to do work for free.

Usually, I recommend freelancers never to do free work. But, sometimes, it’s okay to do work for free. Especially if it’s a non-profit business, doing some free work could actually bring you more paid work.

But if this is a for-profit business, you should never fall for their tricks. Of course, you don’t want to be rude about it either. So respond kindly, like this:

“John, I’ve done lots of free work in the past when starting out as a freelancer, mainly for charities and non-profit businesses. But I no longer do free work. If you want examples of my work, please find them in my portfolio. Here’s the link to my website.”

5. I Want It Done Differently

client-want it done differently

When you’re pitching for a job with your project proposal, you usually outline how you would handle the project. It’s how you convince the client how you see things and show your creativity.

But if the client responds to you by rejecting your ideas and then asking you to do things their way, you should not agree to it.

Making a decision in a situation like this depends on the position you’re in. Do you want to maintain your creative style and brand or are you desperate to earn some money right now?

If you’re in the latter situation, you could consider agreeing with the client and taking on the job.

But I highly recommend that you always follow a path that relies on your creative abilities and helps establish your personal brand. So, respond like this:

“John, I agree with you on some of the points you’ve made. But based on the results from the past projects I’ve done for clients, I strongly believe that my output on the project will bring the best results for your business. If you still want to do the project your way, I could recommend you another freelancer who would be willing to work under your guidelines”


You may have noticed that being polite and kind were a common theme in each of the responses I’ve suggested.

Whether it’s asking to recommend someone else or helping a client understand that they are wrong, there are always ways to say things more politely.

That’s actually one of the most important parts of being a successful freelancer.