Discounts? On Freelance Work?

1565109194Just like most writers, I often struggle to put a price on my words. I try to set prices that I feel are fair and that can keep me in the style I’ve become accustomed to — that is to say, able to eat.

So, when a freelance client asks me for a discount, I have a consistently hard time deciding how to respond. Sure, there are certain situations in which I’ll give a discount — nonprofits, companies guaranteeing me long-term work, etc. — but that’s not why clients ask for discounts.

Honestly, it isn’t because they don’t value your work, either. It’s a matter of business: a good business owner always tries to minimize expenses, and one of the best techniques is asking for a discount. I’ve asked for discounts myself (and even gotten a few).

But just because a potential client asks for a discount doesn’t mean that you have to offer one. Some writers refuse to negotiate on their rates — and there are many situations where negotiations can only lose you money. Remember, most business owners are asking just to ask: the worst that can happen is that you might say no. Odds are they aren’t even really expecting a discount and as long as you stay polite, refusing won’t lose you a client


  1. Joe Ferry   •  

    I’m curious about how you set your rates. Do you have a set for for certain project i.e. a tri-fold brochure, web site copy, newsletter, etc.? Or do you charge per hour?
    Many of my clients are small businesses that have to be convinced they need to do marketing and PR. As a result, if I charge too much they’ll probably say no. If I charge too little, I screw myself.
    I tend to underprice the value of my work for the simple reason that I need to keep the cash flowing. I can’t afford to lose a job because my price is too high. I know that is contrary to what a lot of the experts say, but that is the reality for me.

  2. thursday   •     Author

    It entirely depends on the type of project. If it’s just straight writing (think articles for magazines) I’m comfortable with a per word rate. For a marketing piece, like a brochure or a website, I will offer an hourly estimate and price, although I prefer setting a price for the whole project just so that clients don’t dream up wild scenarios with hundreds of hours of work.

    I do agree with you that it’s a fine line. I’ve quoted a lowball price more than once because I need the work more than I need to set a firm price. And even then a client will try to find a way to get a lower rate. Unfortunately, not every client is a dream to work with.

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