Special Considerations for Working with Clients New to Freelancing
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Experienced clients mostly know what to expect when it comes to rates and bids for projects on freelancing sites. New clients do not, but despite this, they are rarely open-minded on this subject: they frequently come to freelancing sites with preconceived notions about what work is going to cost. Ironically, it sometimes seem like these prejudices are weighted at both extremes of the cost spectrum, with relatively few clients in the middle.
On the one hand, many clients come to online freelancing primarily—or even solely—based on the idea that they’ll be able to get work done cheap. Many of these are drawn to the industry by promises from “gurus” who tell them they can get work done just as well as if they hired a local contractor, but at a fraction of the price. When a client shows up with this attitude, it can be very difficult to convince him or her that here, as in the “real world”, you generally only get what you pay for. Sometimes new clients will listen to reason, but many of them will only get the message after they get burned by a cheap provider who messes up a project.
At the other end of the scale are the clients who think that the online freelancing world is just an electronic extension of conventional freelancing. They expect to pay around the same rates for work done online that they would hiring someone local to them. This sounds great: after all, online freelancers often complain about clients who won’t pay what they consider to be “fair market rates”. New customers who are willing to do so are thus a valuable commodity. And in fact, these clients do represent the best potential for a viable, lucrative, long-term relationship.
However, even here there can be issues. One is that even if a client shows up willing to pay a good rate for work, he or she is likely to quickly be bombarded by proposals from providers willing to do the job for half, or even a quarter of the price. Some clients will react instinctively by assuming that these contractors cannot do quality work for that price. However, the allure of getting a “bargain” is a very powerful one, and you may find that even with a new client, you will have to be persuasive if your bid is towards the upper end of the range that the client has received. You’ll need to explain, patiently and professionally, why the client is better off in the long run paying more for someone who is qualified than just going with whatever the lowest bid is.
Sometimes you may even find yourself being dismissed over a bid that the client considers too cheap! I’ve had clients who showed up on a site expecting to pay, say, $200 to get a particular job done, when I was willing and able to do the work (properly) for half that amount. I actually had to convince the client that I was a quality bidder, and could indeed do the work for less than he expected, because it just wasn’t that much work.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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