Freelancing 101

Negotiating Freelance Rates Like a Pro

Team Pepper
Posted on 28/04/224 min read
Negotiating Freelance Rates Like a Pro
Talking about money may sometimes be tricky. Here’s our all-in-one guide on how to negotiate freelance rates to get the price you deserve.

Are you unsatisfied with your 9 to 5 job? Did COVID-19 lead you to an unexpected career path? So now, you’ve finally decided to fly solo. Welcome to the much-loved world of freelancing, where you are now your own boss.

According to reports, India is home to a whopping 15 million freelancers. Whether it is in writing, graphic designing, animation, content, or videography – we have them all.

Freelancing comes with the perfect balance of work and home life. The downside? You need to blow your own trumpet at times. Negotiating freelance rates can sometimes be uncomfortable.

While it’s essential to be good at what you do, your skill sets can’t just end there. As a freelancer, you need to have the ninja qualities of creativity, entrepreneurship, sharpness, and negotiation.

5 Tips on How to Negotiate Contractor Rates

Awaken that warrior within you as we teach you how to negotiate a higher rate as a freelancer. Here are five ways to walk the talk.

Tip 1: Do your background research

Sometimes the word freelancer can be misleading. It does not mean ‘free’ work in any sense. Remember this number one rule if you want to learn how to negotiate hourly rates. 

By doing your background research, we do not mean googling how much you should quote your client. It means understanding the number of hours, resources, and effort you will be putting in. At the same time, do your homework to understand the market rates.

For example, if you are a graphic designer, understand what kind of rates other designers with the same amount of experience as you are quoting. Go on websites such as Behance or UpWork to know competitive pricing. 


Tip 2: Know your worth

While negotiating freelance rates, you must know much you are worth. Keep in mind that if your services are top-notch – the client will pay the right fee. 

Many times clients seem to know what a ‘fair rate’ is. Do not let this hold you back. Clients may be unaware of the amount of time going into a single project. You might even have hidden costs such as taxes, invoicing, printing or accounting. 

Added tip: For negotiations to work your way, be fair and confident in your approach. 

Tip 3: Be prepared to walk away

We know it’s easier said than done when negotiating freelance rates. Before quoting a figure, be prepared that it might not work out. The potential client may turn down your offer, and as disappointing as that is, not every professional relationship works out. 

If you are a social media marketer, digital consultant, or content writer, remember it’s okay to say ‘no.’ You cannot have conversations that go like this:

Potential Client: We pay INR 2000 per blog post
You: My base rate is INR 6000 per blog post
Potential Client: We’re so sorry. We cannot afford more than INR 2000 per post
You: Okay then! Let’s go with INR 2000!


Tip 4: Get it all on Paper

Negotiating freelance rates is a skill, not many possess. You must remember that this is a business agreement and having every conversation written down is essential. While clients sometimes sound enthusiastic on the phone, they might back down when it comes to a contract.

You don’t always have to have every conversation over email, but sending minutes of a call over email always help. Even if a potential client reverts to you after 25 days, you both know what the last discussion was once you see the written word.

Tip 5: Patience and persistence is key

Patience is a virtue few people possess, but when negotiating freelance rates, that is the one thing you need the most. Negotiations can sometimes be painstakingly slow, especially if it’s a new client. 

Give your potential client the benefit of the doubt. Days at work are long and hard – sometimes meetings come up, or there is an unexpected work emergency. A long period of silence doesn’t mean you didn’t secure the project. Don’t lower your guard or price just because someone didn’t revert for 24 hours.

Let’s negotiate?

Now that we’ve summed up our tips on how to negotiate freelance rates – here’s an extra one for you to know.

Our biggest guideline: Learn the art of negotiating the scope of work, not the price.

Simply put, no freelancer wants to feel undervalued or underpriced.

If a client is willing to pay a certain price, tweak your offerings as per their needs. Flexibility is key when it comes to freelancing. Have some ideas in mind as to how you will be able to best fit your client’s needs and pricing to create the perfect match. Remember, it is your service, and you are in control.


1. How do I negotiate an hourly rate as a freelancer?

When it comes to negotiating freelance rates, there is no one-size-fits-all theory. You must calculate your hourly rate based on:
1. Your experience as a freelancer
2. The effort you will spend per hour
3. Your overhead costs 
4. The profit you are looking to earn
5. The deadline and deliverables expected from you

2. How do I ask for a higher rate as a freelancer?

Here are some guidelines on how you can ask for a higher rate from a client as a freelancer:
1. Prove your mettle with consistently good work or with your updated portfolio
2. Give a valid reason for increasing your cost
3. Instead of asking for a higher rate, inform the client that your rates have changed
4. Send an official email with the details

3. How do I get more projects as a freelancer?

As a freelancer, you must understand where your strength lies. Define your scope of work and target a potential client accordingly. Build your portfolio and create a profile that is accessible. Market your offerings on social media or networking sites. Be flexible and open to changes as the market needs to change. 

4. How to negotiate freelance rates respectfully?

1. Be confident in your approach 
2. Study the client and their needs
3. Be polite and aware of your tone and body language
4. Buy more time when it comes to negotiation 
5. Draw attention to your strengths
6. Ask the right questions