Does Going Freelance Affect Your Bargaining Power?
The Aurical’s guest panel weighs in on the question of negotiating your rates and terms as a freelancer.
The Aurical’s “Freelance Focus continues with a question posed to our guest panel: In your experience, has being a freelancer diminished or increased your bargaining power when it comes to taking on work?
Rachel Robinson – Writer, photographer and web designer: “Being a newbie freelancer, I just get really happy when I get work! But that said, I do have a minimum amount that I will accept for the work to be done. I won’t take on a client that won’t pay a fair rate. I often feel that I perhaps undercharge, but am getting more savvy as I discover what the going rates are for writing, photography and web design. As a newbie I don’t have too much bargaining power, but that is likely to change in the future!”
Delon van der Venter – Web Developer: “At first it was really difficult to convince clients to pay the going rate, there’s a perception that as a freelancer you will work for less than the market rate, but now that I have a pretty big portfolio, it makes it a lot easier to get the rates I ask for.“
Narina Exelby – Writer, editor and photographer: “Bargaining power is diminished… there is always someone who is willing to work for less, and unfortunately quality is often compromised in favour of budget. The crazy thing is that some of the big names in international publishing ‘have no budget’, particularly when it comes to photographs. But they get by because people are wooed into having their work published in a big-name title, even if they don’t get paid. I have heard of quite a few people who will contribute to a title once (for free or very little payment), so that they can put it on their CV, and then they vow to never work for them again.
(On competing – effectively – for jobs with “free labour”) “I won’t do it. I understand that people who’re starting out want to get their name out there, but I always say – if they work for free or for very little, they’re making things difficult for themselves further on down the line.
“My advice to freelancers always is: Respect yourself and value your work. And have the balls to say no.“
Emily Pettit-Coetzee – Writer: “As a freelancer I feel more vulnerable. When times are good I feel inclined to stick to my guns when it comes to a rate, but when I am feeling nervous or unsure about where the next cheque is coming from I will take anything. It’s bad though, because of that I think companies know they can stick to low rates – maybe that’s not true for everyone. I just know that for me, it all depends on how confident I am feeling that month.”
Pieter Redelinghuys – Writer/columnist: “(Bargaining power…) Increased, without a doubt. I have 24 years experience to offer potential clients. I have a pre-determined rate so they know where they stand from the outset. I am also lucky to have a few retainers, so when smaller jobs do come around, I will not take it on and get paid less just because it is a small (or once off) job. Pay me for my services and get the best possible returns. If you want to nogotiate a lower rate, find someone else to do the job for you. But be aware: If you pay peanuts, the job will be done by monkeys.
Jon Monsoon – Writer, producer, event manager: “Being a freelancer with more than 5-years experience at it surely means that doing work for a lower-than-normal rate or for “exposure” holds little interest and will likely be passed over. The exception to this is if the work promises to be of significant interest to me or if it significant exposure in a new market or a market I am under-exposed in. That said, the weight of experience garnered as a freelancer puts me at a competitive advantage within the marketplace where the sheer scope of work I have generated over my time freelancing means I am able to charge a higher rate than someone fresh to the freelance realm, even though they might have worked longer at a full-time position somewhere, but covering the same old beat.”
Kim Saville – Music and artist management: “Increased it, I hope (laughs). As a solo person I work out more cost effective as to when I had a company of 7 people. I worked to keep them employed and when the work is not coming in due to budgets it was quite a stress to maintain. ”
Cami Scoundrel – Musician, designer: “Depends on how broke I am at the time, because when you’re desperate you’ll take anything, and when you’re not you’ll probably end up upping your price.”
Katherine de Tolly – Project manager: “Increased. You don’t get fired if you say no to work. But that is kinda dependent on your financial reserves and how ‘in demand’ you are.”
What’s your experience? Do you agree with any of the above? Let us know in the comments below.