Working out your fee can be an awkward process, you’re never sure if you’re setting it too low or high and there are no real guidelines to help you.

Should you ask your clients what their budget is

One way to get around this is to ask your clients what their budget is first. This will give you more insight into whether your rates are going to be met well and allows you to alter them if you need to. But is it always a good idea?

Here are some pros and cons:

Pros

They go first

You might find in a lot of cases that their budget is higher than you think or would have asked for. So if you’re telling them your fees and they’re presently surprised, you might want to try this approach in future so you’re not shooting yourself in the foot by getting a lower rate than you can get.

You know where you stand

Knowing their budget early on could ensure that neither of you is wasting the other person’s time. If your rate is way too high for their budget then you can politely decline the work without spending so much time discussing and mentally planning the work.

This saves you time in negotiations that end up going nowhere. That’s time you can then spend on clients who can pay your rates.

Room for flexibility

Too often freelancers will send over their rates only to have “it’s out of our budget” response or simply no response at all. This cuts the conversation dead in a lot of cases. If you find out what their budget is, providing it’s more than £0, this gives you room to think of compromises and solutions for both of you.

 

Cons

You may look unsure

If a client asks what your rate is and you reply with “how much can you pay?” this might come across as uncertain. That lack of confidence may make them think twice about hiring you.

It might look bad to them

Asking for a client’s budget is one way to ensure that you’re not going to be undercharging them. So this can come across as if you’re just hunting for more money. While that may be technically true, it could give some clients a bad impression. However, most will understand, especially if they’re in business themselves.

It tells them your rates are flexible

This can work to your advantage but also leave room for the client to talk your price down because they know it’s going to be flexible. They may end up saying a budget which is fairly low to see how you will react. Some freelancers will just accept the low rate, so you’re going to have to persuade them that you’re worth the extra money that you want.

 

Whatever you end up doing, there’s nothing stopping you from testing this approach out to see how you find it. It won’t require a lot of change on your part, just an altered conversation.

This approach largely depends on how flexible you are with your rates. If you’re willing to help out a client who can’t afford the high rate you would normally charge, that’s up to you. Just don’t feel like you have to do this, it’s your business and your rates. Too many freelancers back down over rates because they’re scared of losing clients. All this does is continue the cycle of low rates and slows your business growth.

 

Would you ever ask your clients about their budget before telling them your rates? If so why? Let us know what you think.