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Tips for Offering Deals and Discounts as a Freelancer

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One of the most common struggles in freelancing is making sure that you get paid enough for your time and effort for every project. Determining the right price for the job can be a difficult assessment to make. As a result, we freelancers have to be stingy in offering discount prices.

In fact, you may be wondering why you would ever want to offer discount pricing, and you may be right.

If you are backed up for months on projects to complete, then you probably do not need to offer a price discount. And sometimes being too quick to take up a project for a lower price can hurt the perceived quality of your work. Some clients would rather go with a higher priced freelancer than a lower priced one simply because they believe the quality of work to be better.

Yet, there are times when you may need to turn to discounts to bring in more work. When you do offer discounts, you want to make sure your approach benefits your freelance business.

Why Discount Your Freelance Services?

Some freelancers might consider offering cheaper prices because of one of the following scenarios:

  • You are fairly new in your industry, and many are not willing to try your services simply because of your lack of experience.
  • You've found yourself in between clients without a new client in sight, and bills are looming.
  • You have a good amount of clients but would like to expand your freelancing business.
  • You would like to break into a new area of expertise and want to offer promotional pricing to your clients just to build up your portfolio.
  • You know that a certain month is always your slowest time of the year and would like to prevent resorting to PB&J for every meal during this season.

With any one of these scenarios, discount prices can bring in clients to solve your dilemma. Sometimes, freelancers find their best freelance jobs through competition based pricing simply because a client is drawn in by the lower cost but then continues to work with you in future projects. Usually once they are impressed with your work, they will be more willing to pay for future projects at your normal pricing.

But there is a catch. You have to be careful in how you offer a price discount, otherwise you may appear desperate and, therefore, undesirable. You also risk not getting paid enough for your time, which is not the trap you want to fall into.

The following freelance tips include two sections. The first section of tips is for a promotional pricing campaign you plan and implement. The second section deals with clients who ask you for a discount price after you have submitted your quote.

Pre-planned Discounts

First let's discuss pre-planned discount pricing, as in, a campaign to promote your business. This is an excellent way to grow your business whether you are just starting out or if you are trying to expand. Use these coupon tips so that you appear a savvy marketer, not a freelancer that clients avoid.

Timing is Everything

One way to make your discount pricing appear legitimate is by tying it to an event, for instance, Christmas, Easter, or the Fourth of July. Don't worry if the month you are offering a deal doesn't have a major holiday. Every month has at least one small calendar event.

Or you can make up your own event. Let's say you want to offer a discount in January, but you don't want to go with a President's Day campaign. Just create your own "holiday". Offer an "After the Holidays" coupon or simply a "January Special" to give clients a "little something to brighten cold, winter days". Be creative with your tagline and your discount campaign will look even more appealing.

Limited Time

If you have already tied your campaign to an event, then clients will more than likely gather that the discount is only for a limited time. However, you still want to tag on a phrase that makes this clear, such as "limited offer" or "for a limited time only".

Putting a limit on your discount prices puts pressure on clients to take advantage of your deal when you need them to.

Putting a limit on your discount prices puts pressure on clients to take advantage of your deal when you need them to. It also makes sure that once your need for a promotion is over, you can easily go back to your normal prices.

Also, do make sure you specify the exact dates of your promotion. This prevents misunderstanding on the part of the client. You can make an exception and allow a client to tag along if they are only a few days late on responding to your offer, but setting specific dates gives clients a clear time frame for following-through on your discount and will improve your results.

Specific Parameters

Don't just offer a blanket discount price on all of your services. This looks too desperate. Instead, make your logo services 30% off or your brochure design 10% off. Or create a bundle deal, such as, a logo, business card, and brochure designs for half off.

Make sure, too, that the discount is still worth your time by limiting what the offer includes. For instance, if your logo services are 30% off, limit the deal to only two designs from which to choose, one change, and no effects. If the client wants to go outside of these parameters, make sure they know you will have to adjust their cost accordingly. This is where a solid contract comes in handy.

Client Requests for a Deal

Sometimes a client will ask you for a discount price after you submit your bid, which can be very frustrating. You have probably at some point in time in your freelancing career agreed to a lower payment and then put in way more work than what you got paid. However, you can get back to the place where you happily agree to discounts, if you make sure to always follow three tips:

1. Give and Take

One way to make a lower price worth your time is to ask for something extra in return, such as an exchange of services. This can be a great deal if they can provide you with something you've been needing for your own business or even for your personal use. For instance, you could exchange some SEO work to a photographer for a free photography session and rights to the photos.

If an exchange of services is not desirable, you could also ask them to refer you to many of their colleagues or friends. This can be an excellent deal if your client has some hefty connections, such as CEOs of businesses that could use your services or products. Or you could ask your client to do so many tweets, Facebook posts, etc. to help promote your freelance business. You may want to ask them to do this before you finish your work, otherwise they may never follow through with their end of the deal.

2. More Work

If a client is requesting an exorbitant amount of work, this may be an excellent reason to provide discount pricing. What makes lots of work so beneficial is the possibility of saving yourself some time by getting the projects done in bulk. Your client may not need it all right away, but at least you got it all done on the front end and also cut down on your time by organizing and consolidating.

Just make sure that the discount you provide is still worth your time, even if you can consolidate.

Just make sure that the discount you provide is still worth your time, even if you can consolidate. And be sure to have your client sign a contract that explains clearly how much work they requested and that they agree to pay the work in full, even if they change their mind and decide not to use it all.

3. Limit the Amount of Work

Another reason you may allow for discount prices per client request is if you limit the parameters. Just because a client can't pay for the entire package doesn't mean that they aren't a valuable customer to have. It is still money that will help pay bills; you just have to limit what you can do. Break up the bundle, in other words.

For instance, let's say you normally charge a certain amount for writing, editing, and submitting a guest post to a blog. A client then asks if you would come down 25% on your price. Don't outright reject the client. Instead, tell them you can provide writing and editing of the article, but not the submission. You may have to provide some tips on contacting blogs, but at least you don't have that time commitment of finding the right blog, getting approval, and making final preparations.

Providing discount prices can be an excellent way for you to fill in the blanks, bring in some quick cash, or promote your business. Do it wrong and you will hurt the perceived quality of your services. Do it right and your freelance business will thrive on discount pricing.

Do you have any more tips on providing deals or discounts to clients? Feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comments below!

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by stuartdune.

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