You’re in talks with a prospective client that you’re really excited about working with. So far, they’ve been super communicative, and the project they want you to work on sounds like it’s right up your alley.
Before long, you see that inevitable question appear in your inbox: “So, what’s your rate?”
You take one more look at the project requirements and deadline, and then send back a friendly, “I would charge $800 for the entire project, including a one-week revision period!”
Sooner than you expected (you’ve grown used to the freelance waiting game by now), you receive a reply. “We’d really love to work with you,” that email explains, “But, our budget for this project is only $500.”
You feel like you’ve been punched in the gut—that price is significantly lower than what you were hoping for, but you were really excited about this gig. So, what do you do? You have no choice but to write them off with a friendly note and then go your separate ways, right? After all, money talks and you’ve got bills to pay.
Hey, not so fast! Listen, I get where you’re coming from. You freelance because you love it, but you also do it to put food on the table. It’s your livelihood, which means it’s far too easy to become focused solely on the paycheck you’ll receive, and nothing else.
Paycheck aside, there's more to consider when evaluating #freelance gigs. Click To Tweet
However, evaluating projects and clients isn’t always quite that black and white. In fact, there are some other non-monetary things you’ll want to consider before officially kicking that lower-paying client to the curb.
1. Major exposure
Did you just cringe at the sight of the word “exposure”? I don’t blame you. Any freelancer is all too familiar with those gigs that offer zero pay—but promise tons of exposure. Ugh, gag.
But, when there really is some money on the table (albeit, a smaller chunk than you were anticipating), exposure really is something worth giving some thought to.
Would taking on this project allow you to put your name on something big? Would it be shared with a large audience, expand your reach, and increase your chances of taking your freelance business to the next level?
Income is important. But, so is your reputation—and, if accepting this project at a slightly lower rate is going to give you major credibility, it’s definitely worth considering.
2. Entry to a new field
Up until now, your workload has been somewhat random. For example, you’ve done websites for everything from dentist offices to credit unions. In a dream world, you’d focus solely on developing sites for creative entrepreneurs—but, you’ve struggled to land just one client in that niche.
This lower-rate project would allow you to gain entry to that field and get your foot in the door with more of your ideal clients. As you know too well, if you do great work, that client will be all the more willing to recommend you to the people in their own network.
So, don’t neglect to think about whether or not accepting this gig would be a step in the right direction for you and your portfolio—even if the paycheck isn’t quite what you were hoping for.
3. Beneficial relationships
Similarly, you should consider the relationship that accepting this project would grant you. Is the person you would be working for a real influencer or go-getter? Could they be a great mentor or advocate for you?
I’ll spare you the old cliché, “Your network is your net worth,” sentiment. But, really, it holds some water.
If you could walk away from this gig with an awesome new connection in your back pocket, what you’d receive might far outweigh the extra bucks you’d lose.
4. New challenges
It can be easy to get stuck in a freelance rut. You crank out project after project, and you get comfortable with the tasks you do on a daily basis.
However, in order to stay relevant—not to mention engaged and fulfilled by your work—you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone every now and then and see what new directions you can take your skills.
Does this gig present a challenge that would force you to try new things? Does it involve subject matter you’re not exactly an expert in? Would the skills you’d need to refine in order to complete this project strengthen your overall reputation as a freelancer?
I know, taking on something that intimidates you can be, well, intimidating. But, you want to be moving forward as a freelancer—not backwards. And, that rule doesn’t just apply to your income. It applies to your skillset too!
5. Growth opportunities
Freelancing can differ pretty greatly from a traditional career. However, this one thing typically holds true for both: If you can do great work and prove your value, you’re bound to climb the ladder.
It’s worth doing some digging to figure out if this project is just a starting point that could lead to more regular work, higher pay, and an overall opportunity to grow with that client.
Regular, consistent, and predictable work is the dream for nearly every freelancer (buh bye, feast or famine stress!). And, if there’s opportunity for something like that with this client? It’s definitely worth a second look.
If you can do great work and prove your value, you’re bound to climb the ladder. Click To Tweet
Over to you
No, I’m by no means advocating that you should constantly sell yourself short and bend on your rates—you know what you’re worth. However, I do think it’s worth taking a step back to look at the entire picture.
Think about it this way: When considering a full-time job, you don’t just look at the offered salary. You ask about the perks and benefits. You consider the location and commute, the schedule and hours, and the daily tasks and responsibilities.
Freelancing should work that very same way. Yes, your rate is important. But, there are other elements you should be sure to consider before deciding whether or not to take on that new project.