Business Marketing Random Thoughts

Why haggling for pricing is bad karma for you

Don’t let them haggle

I hate to argue. Particularly, over price as I don’t think it’s worth my time or energy to argue over a few dollars when my work’s at stake. Although I’m aware that some people derive absolute pleasure haggling their way to saving a few dollars (pennies, in some cases). I can’t explain the psychology behind that because that’s the kind of client I simply wouldn’t want to work with.

If you’re a freelancer or a service provider, you’ve got to have standards so you know when to put your foot down. That’s the reason it helps to be either black or white when it comes to what you can deliver, what you can not, and most importantly at what price. Compromising on any of these parameters might drive you to make “adjustments” in other areas that you don’t want to.

I can’t help but laugh out loud when someone proposes a gig they would like me to work on for free in lieu of endless opportunities if “all things go well” or if I can reduce the price by 25% because of their limited budget. Most folks on the other end get offended and take their work elsewhere, while others are genuinely curious to know if I have superpower to smell BS from miles away. I do.

See, quality comes at a price. If your clients aren’t willing to accept that, it’s time you seriously think about getting better clients. Even if you’re struggling to make it in the cutthroat world of independent contractors. Yes, I know, it sounds contradictory but the absolute worst thing a professional can do is under-price themselves only to lose to someone else who’s cheaper.

Instead of trying to position yourself in a marketplace (which sets the wrong precedent), go truly exclusive and independent. Showcase your work, create authority content, and share it online. The idea is to create free valuable content that is super-useful and compels people to seek you out. That’s exactly what gives you, the professional, a leverage over the ones selling services at a marketplace. It just takes a little more time and patience but it sure does work.

I’m suggesting the following:

  1. Don’t all into content marketing — that’s for corporates or entrepreneurs who have the budget and money to do it at scale. As a freelancer or a bootstrapper, you choices are highly limited. Focus on creating the biggest bang for the buck valuable content. That could be a case study, white paper, a cheat-sheet, a daily/weekly blog, or a podcast. Choose one or a combination of these. Not all. You need to make a living doing your craft not creating free content.
  2. Don’t ditch marketplaces completely. They can be useful initially but you can’t expect to make a living staying there. You’ve got to come out and sell your services to other professionals who understand the value you create.
  3. Don’t assume people aren’t going to haggle for pricing outside of the marketplaces either. As I mentioned above, some people derive “pleasure” from it. Your responsibility as a professional is to stay put with your pricing and instead of a discount give them alternatives. For example: including a case-study in the pricing you quoted for 10 blog posts, or perhaps, creating an infographic users manual along with the software package you will be developing.

The alternative is to let the market use you like a commodity instead of a professional. While some professionals are okay with it, most aren’t. One wouldn’t haggle with your doctors, dentists, lawyers, or accountants. Would they? Why do then people argue with consultants, copywriters, software developers, design agencies, or your fruit & vegetable vendors for price? If you’ve been haggled often, it’s time to level-up your game and be okay with walking away.