24 Things That Matter More to Freelance Clients Than Saving Money
3 min. read
October 20, 2023
In a competitive marketplace there’s always someone who will sell a project for a stupid, unsustainable price. Or for free!
Oddly enough, free can be an excellent strategy if you play your cards right. Legendary identity designer Paul Rand gained international attention and acclaim for covers of Direction magazine that he created for free, the kicker being that he had full artistic freedom. Nicolas Cole would tell you the ROI is infinite.
Proceed with caution. Someone asking for free work (big red flag) is different from you offering because you see the opportunity to form important relationships and beef up your portfolio.
Back to the discussion at hand: There’s always someone who charges less. You can’t win the race to the bottom.
Have you ever gotten a spam text message offering a $9.99 logo offer? Yeah, that’s the pricing limbo game some freelancers are willing to play. “How low can you go?! How low can you go?!”
Smart freelancers stand up, dust off their hands, and say, “Nope. Not gonna.” We don’t try to compete based on price. We don’t try to turn our taste, talent, expertise, and problem-solving aptitude into a “good deal.”
And we certainly don’t let our own budget constraints lead us to believe that every potential client’s top priority is saving money.
What represents a significant sum for you may be a small line item for a value-conscious client, and many things are more important to some clients than saving money.
Here are 24 things of them:
Working with a subject matter expert who won’t have a learning curve
Working with a known authority with a proven track record
Achieving a very specific result in a predictable timeframe
Getting it done faster with minimal oversight required
Avoiding delays, embarrassment, and hassles
Clear, copious, consistent communication
Client education / training / resources
Personal responsibility for mistakes
Specialization / domain expertise
Promises kept & deadlines met
Creating clarity & confidence
Effective project management
Memorable client experience
Your network / relationships
Easier or better packaging
Personality & humor
Mitigation of risk
Your competitors are going to do whatever they’re going to do. Ignore their prices, and the rest of the freelance market doing the funky chicken limbo on stilts on ice. It’s crazy and unsustainable, and someone’s going to get hurt.
The true predictors of what you can charge are what you believe about money, your reputation or authority, the right niche, having the swagger to name the price that’s right for you, building the right offers around what your clients value beyond a lower price, and having the gumption to deliver.
Swagger matters more than “the competition,” my friends.
Your job isn’t to be competitive with your prices but to charge commensurate to the value you create, without lowering prices or piling on more stuff.
Your clients aren’t going to wake up one day, and say, “You know, I really ought to pay her more.” To get the audacious project fee, you must ask for it.
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
Freelance Fixes. This short guide walks you through 6 small but important “fixes” that you can make to raise your income without working longer hours. People really seem to like it.
Morning Marketing Habit. This course will help you build an “always be marketing” practice, become less dependent on referrals, and proactively build the business you want with the clients you want. My own morning marketing habit has enabled me to consistently make 6 figures as a freelancer.
Clarity Session. It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. I've done well over 100 of these 1:1 sessions with founders, solopreneurs, and freelancers who wanted guidance, a second opinion, or help creating a plan.
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About the Author, Austin L. Church
Austin L. Church is a writer, brand consultant, and freelance coach. He started freelancing in 2009 after finishing his M.A. in Literature and getting laid off from a marketing agency. Freelancing led to mobile apps (Bright Newt), a tech startup (Closeup.fm), a children's book (Grabbling), and a branding studio (Balernum). Austin loves teaching freelancers and consultants how to stack up specific advantages for more income, free time, and fun. He and his wife live with their three children in Knoxville, Tennessee.