Freelancing is the most sought-after remote job that is a trend for those who want to work everywhere and at any time. There’s no bar to the amount of money you can earn because you are the decision-maker. Everything depends on your capacity to take on projects, skills, and experience.
Becoming a freelancer means you choose your personal work hours, handpick your own clients, and set your pay rates. Well, talking about pay rates, many animators have a hard time deciding their prices while complaining when their clients pay them poorly; this is also why many freelancers struggle with signing high-paying projects. A freelance animator is one of them.
You know, a must-have skill that you need to learn before you choose freelancer as your path in life is negotiating. There’s a common myth among freelancers that qualified leads don’t negotiate. That is totally wrong because everyone has a budget based on where they are in their business. Dealing is not a bad thing. It is a must at some point!
Here, take the wheel of your freelance animator career and learn how to set your price and negotiate properly.
Have a business mindset
Before you really step into an industry, this is the crucial step to survive in any industry. Most animation schools don’t prepare you for the real world. After you sharpen your artistic skills in college, you realize that you absolutely have no idea about the business side of being a creative worker.
Not only animators, but even I am the marketing gal, relate to this situation. You may not learn it in school, but you can begin to learn it today, right? Just read books, listen to podcasts, and watch youtube videos related to the business of animation. You can learn day by day as you start your freelance career.
I’ll drop my favorite ted Talk video titled “The Power of an Entrepreneurial Mindset” by Bill Roche.
Let the client know the value you bring to the table
Remember that you shouldn’t focus on yourself and your animation skills whenever you negotiate. Indeed it can make you look good. However, some animation clients won’t be convinced to pay you at a higher rate by just hearing your background.
Your prospects may not know about the behind-the-scenes action that leads to the outcome. This can be one reason they’re unwilling to pay what you quote and want to negotiate. Once you involve them in the process and communicate the value you’re providing, they may understand and justify your prices better. You can explain them through case studies on your blog or a client testimonial. Understandably not everyone knows the work you do and the results it brings.
Focus on your potential client and their needs. Ask them about their goals and objectives for the project. Then let them know how you can meet their needs and your service’s impact on their business. You aren’t simply selling your skill sets. You are selling a service that will impact the future of your animation client’s business.
Set minimum acceptable rate by doing research on other animators’ rates
Your minimum fair rate is a price quotient you should never go below while negotiating with your prospects. Your expenses, taxes, and years of experience determine the minimum rate you must charge.
You will calculate your MAR based on other animators’ rates or your current life situation. Over time, this will increase as you move ahead, and your quality of life or circumstances requires higher expenses. Always calculate your MAR so you’re not going below it even after negotiating.
Quote a little bit higher than your standard rate
As a freelancer animator, having a rate card is one of the most possible things for a freelancer. It prevents constant back and forth when someone asks you for your rate. When talking to a prospect, quote a higher price than your standard rate.
When you do, even if they negotiate, they’ll come back to your standard rate, which is fair pricing for you. This is a win-win situation because your prospect will feel that they’ve achieved something by negotiating and bringing down the price while you’ll be working at your standard rate.
However, remember not to quote an unrealistic price. You can go 10% higher (I usually do 20% to 30%). If they reject you at this rate, they would probably not go ahead with you, even at your standard price.
The idea is to give yourself some wiggle room so you can negotiate and still have the pricing in your favor. Dealing too much or working below your standard rate is not fair. It takes away all the motivation to work and is not healthy for long-term professional relationships.
Offer a small discount.
Another way to close a deal is to offer a small discount. I usually give a 30% discount for a test project. Offering a discount can help you to build trust with the client, where they can see how you work and the assistance you provide throughout the project.
This is great for projects which have the potential to turn into long-term retainers. It’s beneficial for the client to get an exclusive discounted rate and for you, as you’ll sign a long-term contract at an original price.
This way, they’ll see what you’re truly worth, and if they like your work in the 1st test project, they can take it forward at the original price from the following projects onwards.
Ensure you mention the original price in your contract and invoice and offer a discount. This will remind them of your pricing and help in contract management.
Say no, don’t feel guilty.
Lastly, remember to not compromise on your value as a freelancer and service provider for a project. Charging lower than what you’re worth is much worse than not working on projects. Because this way, you’re not getting paid properly but are investing your time and energy into working for them.
Instead, have patience, and work towards improving your skills and getting more clients. Time spent working on projects that don’t pay you accurately can be used effectively to enhance your skills to get high-ticket clients who pay you for what you’re worth.
And this is the ads part, hehe. In Mocca Studio, we have Mocci (Mocca Internship). This program teaches how to create animation from scratch and how the industry works. You can check it out on our website at mocci. id.
Back to the topic, as a freelancer, you can work with as many clients as you want, but you can negotiate only to an extent. Beyond that, you must draw a line and be firm about your pricing.
You will only get past clients who don’t value you to reach clients who can’t wait to start working with you.