How Some People Prey On Freelancers And How To Get Better Clients

how to get better freelancer clients

Besides the occasional inquiries we receive from Tech Help Canada for service, I sometimes use freelance websites to find clients. It’s never my first choice and certainly isn’t something we rely on but it’s insightful into the struggles of being a freelancer that depends on freelance sites.

It’s bad enough that scammers already prey on freelance individuals daily on the web. But now there are people who frequent these websites for the sole purpose of taking advantage of the position many freelancers are in. They visit these sites to get work done ‘for peanuts’ (or at least try to) that they themselves know the true value of.

Unfortunately, since many freelancers are worried about the same things you worry about such as making the rent at the end of the month, bills, children’s education etc. Job uncertainty can make the faint-hearted truly desperate, to the point where a person could devalue himself or herself.

The good news is that most freelance hirers are good people. However, if freelance workers don’t stamp out behaviours like these, I fear that things will only get worse over time. So how do these individuals prey on unsuspecting freelancers?

First, they start with the psychological judo, you know, the promise of long-term work or the “hey, here’s a trial project” and then ask you to work for almost free or free.

While some people may embrace the tactic of working for free, I certainly don’t recommend it. You see, what usually ends up happening is that the freelancer provides the work and never gets more milestones (as was initially promised).

What about working for less?

Well, only if it makes sense. Giving a first time discount of 30 percent may be sensible but waving off 80 percent isn’t. As a freelancer, you set your own prices and you’re in charge but that can easily be forgotten when you allow yourself to become desperate.

I’m not suggesting that your desperation isn’t valid, just merely pointing out that rather than working for free; there are other ways to approach it.

For instance, you can let a client know that you’re giving them a one-time discount to begin the working relationship. Is your client’s first order with you for 10 articles? Then you can charge them for only 9 pieces as a good gesture.

These are not new ideas, businesses do things like this all the time, so why are freelancers different? The truth is that you’re not. You must start to see yourself as a business and understand that you’re in control. You set your own prices, who you work with, the kinds of projects you take, pay your own taxes and so on, so start acting like a business would.

All that being noted, let’s take a look at some things you can do to start attracting better clients and getting the cheapeners to appreciate you more.

1. If You Have to Drop The Price, Reduce The Value

A long time ago, during my days of working with computers, I went to my dealer (no, it’s not what you may be thinking) and requested 10 desktop towers. On pickup day, I put on my ‘negotiation hat’ and said, “$500 for all”. He looked at me, smiled, and then he took 5 of the towers away and said “ok, but you’re only getting five of them”.

What do you think I did?

I immediately said, “wait, so it’s $1000 for 10 of them?” He nodded and said “yeah”. I learnt something that day. Because he reduced the value, I was able to finally see that he was giving me a great deal. Ten working desktop towers at $100 each that I resold for $200 a piece, not bad now, is it?

The point here is that when you feel backed into a corner; reduce the value that they’ll be getting. Let their budget match your workload so that you’re not degrading yourself or inadvertently working for free.

For example, imagine that you’re a writer and you received an email from a prospect. This person wants you to write a 1000 word article but has a budget of $20.

In this case, you can simply reduce the outcome to 300 or 500 words, depending on your set prices. You can then say something like this:

“Hi. Thanks for reaching out and here’s your quote. I do great quality work that requires a significant amount of my time to produce. I want you to get the same high-quality for your budget”.

2. Have a Little Ego, But Just a Bit

Who would you hire?

The person that says “I know that if you give me the opportunity, I’ll do my best” or the individual who exudes confidence and discloses, “I can’t wait to get started on this with you, based on my analysis, we should see some great results in the first quarter”.

For most of us, the latter is the obvious choice. What this conveys to a potential client is that you know what you’re doing. Confidence is a powerful thing and when you have it, it’s really hard for people to take advantage of you.

The only caveat here is that you have to make sure you’ve got the skills to do the job.

Hence, why you must commit yourself to lifelong learning as a freelancer. This way, you’ll never ‘sell yourself short’. In fact, since you know how hard you work to acquire the skills and experience you have, the least likely it is that you’ll devalue your expertise.

3. Build Your Authority On Freelance Platforms

Sometimes it’s better to let go of a gig than to risk damaging your authority. Freelance platforms show off your reviews and previous work completed so that prospects can see them. This means that it affects the perception of the consumer before they even contact you.

If all they see is $10, $20, $30 of completed projects that are clearly worth much more, you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to pay you what you’re truly worth. And this slump can be really hard to get out of.

So do yourself a huge favour and ignore the cheapeners. Remember that these people are often reselling your work or services and make money back in some way. Whether it’s a logo design, content creation, bookkeeping or whatever you do, ensure that you’re getting the worth you’ve set for yourself. Let the cheapeners go and make room for real clients that value you.

It goes without saying that the more you learn, the more valuable you’ll become, which increases your income. So keep learning, improving your craft and producing remarkable work. Good luck out there.

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