Why all freelancers should get comfortable talking to their clients about money.
Money, money, money. It’s the life-juice our businesses run on, yet bringing it up in conversation is enough to make most people squirm. If you’re anything like me, you were raised to believe that money talk is impolite and should be avoided — certainly with strangers, but likely even with friends and family too.
When it comes to advancing your freelance career, however, I’m here to tell you to disappoint your parents as often as possible. Here are three important reasons we all need to get more comfortable talking about money.
1. Clients need to be educated about freelancing
Interacting with clients on money matters can be draining. Some will always ask for lower prices or more generous payment terms, others will demand the world no matter what was agreed upfront. It’s important to remember, though, that most clients aren’t trying to be jerks — they just don’t understand what it means to run a business.
You can educate them by having honest conversations about money from the start. Explain why your services are priced and structured the way they are. The more you talk about it, the more confident you’ll become. Money talk is a vital skill in business, and as more and more people go self-employed, it’s more important than ever that we train our clients to work better and smarter with freelancers.
2. Talking about money helps you make more of it
Always tackle the money question at the very beginning and try to take a long-term view. When I provide a quote, for example, I indicate the price for the work the client wants done but include my hourly and day rates too. I also introduce the idea of a rate review at a particular time each year or at the end of an initial 6 or 12-month contract to set their expectations. The cost of living goes up every year, so freelance rates must too.
Being clear and transparent about money makes clients aware that they’ll be paying more if they ask you to do anything beyond the scope of the original project, as well as giving them an idea of what input on further projects might cost so they can easily consider working with you again. It also helps prevent scope creep, i.e. doing more work than agreed for no extra pay.
3. Rate knowledge = vital market information
It’s likely you’re charging less than others for the same services, especially if you don’t review your pricing regularly. You might have a comparably low day rate or be targeting a client demographic that has no budget to invest in your services. Unless you start having open conversations with other freelancers and business owners, though, you’ll never really know. Get the knowledge you need by talking to other people about what they charge, who they work with, and why.
Freelancers are often nervous about revealing too much, worrying they’ll look bad or give too much information to the competition. But the best way to level up what you’re doing is to develop your understanding of the market and have the confidence to charge what you’re worth. Remember, good business is never a race to the bottom, and most freelancers actually want to collaborate with others.
Next time you're trying to win a new client or putting the world to rights with fellow freelancers, bite the bullet and talk about money. The benefits for your business could be huge.