Boss Responses

#33: Should You Compromise on Your Fees? with Eagranie Yu

May 29, 2024 Treasa Edmond
#33: Should You Compromise on Your Fees? with Eagranie Yu
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Boss Responses
#33: Should You Compromise on Your Fees? with Eagranie Yu
May 29, 2024
Treasa Edmond

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Have you ever felt trapped by the need to accept lower rates from clients just to stay afloat? Today on Boss Responses, we look at whether compromising on your rate is a savvy move or a slippery slope. Our insightful guest co-host Eagranie Yuh joins host Treasa Edmond in a close look into the nuances of negotiating rates without sacrificing your professional confidence or integrity. Today's episode takes a look at reducing the scope of work to align with a client's budget, the importance of maintaining a financial buffer, scheduling vacations, and leveraging proactive marketing to land higher-paying gigs. Don't let immediate financial pressures force you into less-than-ideal situations; instead, learn to preemptively market yourself and pursue work that genuinely aligns with your business aspirations.

Eagranie Yuh helps marketers in risk, insurance, and HR build brand authority with white papers and podcasts. She’s an award-winning writer and journalist, and she’s written for publications like The Washington Post, The South China Morning Post and Saveur. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing and has received several M.F.K. Fisher Awards. Prior to starting her own consultancy, Eagranie was the editorial director in a marketing communications agency, where she helped Fortune 500 companies conceptualize, develop and implement content marketing programs.

Connect with Eagranie on LinkedIn.

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

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Send us a Text Message.

Have you ever felt trapped by the need to accept lower rates from clients just to stay afloat? Today on Boss Responses, we look at whether compromising on your rate is a savvy move or a slippery slope. Our insightful guest co-host Eagranie Yuh joins host Treasa Edmond in a close look into the nuances of negotiating rates without sacrificing your professional confidence or integrity. Today's episode takes a look at reducing the scope of work to align with a client's budget, the importance of maintaining a financial buffer, scheduling vacations, and leveraging proactive marketing to land higher-paying gigs. Don't let immediate financial pressures force you into less-than-ideal situations; instead, learn to preemptively market yourself and pursue work that genuinely aligns with your business aspirations.

Eagranie Yuh helps marketers in risk, insurance, and HR build brand authority with white papers and podcasts. She’s an award-winning writer and journalist, and she’s written for publications like The Washington Post, The South China Morning Post and Saveur. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing and has received several M.F.K. Fisher Awards. Prior to starting her own consultancy, Eagranie was the editorial director in a marketing communications agency, where she helped Fortune 500 companies conceptualize, develop and implement content marketing programs.

Connect with Eagranie on LinkedIn.

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

Treasa Edmond:

Welcome back to the Boss Responses podcast and day three with our guest co-host, Eagranie Yuh. Have you ever had a client ask you to accept a lower rate? If you're in a position where you have a bill coming up or you need to meet your monthly cash flow goals, you may be tempted to do that. Today's question is all about that situation. Do you take the lower rate this one time to fill the gap? Let's talk about it. If you're a freelancer, business owner or anyone who deals with clients, you're in the right place.

Treasa Edmond:

I'm your host, Treasa Edmond. I've been dealing with clients and running my business for nearly two decades and in that time I've dealt with my share of doubt, imposter syndrome and not knowing what to say when a client asked a question I wasn't ready for. I created this podcast to empower you with the boss responses you need to grow your business. Each week, my guest co-host and I will bring you five episodes packed with practical insights. Monday through Thursday, we answer your questions, and Fridays we dive deep to explore how our co-hosts embrace their role as the boss of their business. Welcome to Boss Responses. We are back for day three with Eagranie Yuh. Eagranie, thank you so much. I'm really appreciating all of your input this week, but today I'm flipping the tables on you. I'm going to ask you the question.

Treasa Edmond:

All right, here it is. A potential client can't afford my rates, but I quite honestly need the work. I know my rates are fair and I do quality work. Normally I wouldn't consider offering a lower rate as it feels like taking a big step backward in my business. Do I take the lower rate this one time to fill the gap? Their budget would be about half of what my fee for the project would normally be if we've all been there.

Eagranie Yuh:

I've certainly been here. So I let's look at both sides of it, right? So let's say, okay, so you take the work and you take the lower rate, first question, and we can talk about ways to take a lower rate without fully compromising in the business. But I think my first question would be can you compartmentalize it? So the question is do I take the lower rate this one time? Right? So can you in your brain do this one time, because some people can't? Some people will say listen, I got to pay my bills, you know, I got to buy dog food, whatever the thing is, and I'm going to take this rate this one time.

Eagranie Yuh:

This does not impinge me as a person, it does not speak to the quality, it does not speak to the state of my business. I'm making a decision because I need the money right now. So if you can do that, I think that's one route forward. But if you're the kind of person who and I'm gonna, I think this is a lot of writers who will kind of take it a little bit personally, who might take this as a knock to confidence, who might imposter syndrome might creep in, you're like oh no, what if this is. What if my rates were too high? What if this is actually where? What if this is actually what I can command in the market? What if? What if, what? If you have to know yourself right, can you compartmentalize this decision and own it? Because if you can, awesome. That's one path for you, and if you're going to have trouble with that, you should really think twice, because you don't want this decision to affect downstream all the other decisions you're going to make in a business that has probably run pretty well up until this point. So that'd be the first thing you've got to know yourself and whether or not you can make this decision and have it not affect the rest of your life in a negative way.

Eagranie Yuh:

I think the other thing is taking a lower rate. We look down on this like you're not supposed to do this. If you've set a fair rate, then your rate should match the client, this being a specific situation, right, and can you reduce the scope? So, if you're working on a project and you typically offer let's say you're doing SEO, blog writing, typically you offer three versions of the headline and two meta descriptions and six socials and two levels of revision Can you reduce that? So, if you're going to do half, if you're going to do this for half the money.

Eagranie Yuh:

Could you give them one title? Could you give them one meta description? Could you give them two socials? Could you do one or no revisions? Is there? Do you do one or no revisions? Do you do a lot of back-end research? Could you say, okay, well, I'm just going to take the brief. You've got to give me the research. Do you do a lot of the audience analysis? Okay, I'm not going to do that. I need you to give me that, and there are certain compromises that we feel more or less comfortable with whether we feel comfortable doing the work without having done those pieces ourselves. But certainly reducing the scope would be one way to do it and another way to approach this. This happened to me when I was starting out my business. I had a client come to me who I'd worked with before and so we'd worked together when he was at a much larger company and he had much bigger budgets and I had really focused my offering.

Eagranie Yuh:

So I had raised my rates and because we'd worked together, we actually didn't discuss pricing until quite late in the process and we realized that we had very different expectations of what this project was going to cost. So we had this discussion how do we reduce the scope? Okay, normally I would do a lot of research for this. Let's cut some of that. Normally I would give you two revisions, let's just do one revision, okay. Even then, I felt like the price was much lower than what I was comfortable with. So I said to this person who I had a good relationship with, and I said listen, I'm thinking about offering a class in blah. Could I use this project as a workshopping tool? Could?

Eagranie Yuh:

I workshop it in the class in exchange for what you understand is a much lower rate than I would normally be charging right now. And it was a bit of a gutsy move and I knew that he would probably be quite open to it because we'd worked together. And I just asked. I said listen, here's what I'm planning to do. This rate is much lower than what I would normally do, even with the reduced scope. Would you be willing to consider blah? And he said yes and, to be perfectly honest, I haven't done anything with it. It's perpetually on my to-do list. But in principle, I have this piece of client work that I can go into in quite a bit of detail if I were to offer a class on this topic, which was white paper writing. I think there are ways to do it and I think it starts with can you make this decision in good faith with yourself? And if you can, then let's look at some ways where you're not just discounting your rate, you are actually having a consultative conversation with your client.

Treasa Edmond:

That's brilliant. I love that, and I'm trying to think if I've ever bargained with a client to be able to use something. I think I have a couple of times. I am with you on scope. I have a hard and fast rule now about reducing my rate, because when I have reduced my rates for people in the past because I really wanted to do the project or I really wanted the brand name, if I reduced my rate, I ended up with a level of resentment for the fact that I was working just as hard as I would for any other client and not getting paid what I knew I was worth by that point. So it was almost a reverse mindset thing in the fact that I did it because I really, really wanted to, and then I ended up resenting that fact.

Treasa Edmond:

And resentment happens. Folks, we're all human. It's not an evil thing, but I did. And when that happens it's just like any relationship. You start looking at the client a little differently and you're like, did they do this on purpose? And you put those malicious thoughts in there, and that's something we have to remember.

Treasa Edmond:

Our clients are making business decisions. It's very rarely about us. So for them it truly was about budget. For me it was all about. They don't understand what I'm worth.

Treasa Edmond:

So I'm lucky in the fact that by that point, I worked out all of those sticky widgets and my own issues with imposter syndrome. I still have imposter syndrome on every project over a certain dollar amount, but I don't question my worth anymore. The imposter syndrome is are these people really going to pay this, even though I know it's worth it? With the lowering the scope, though, I do that all the time and I do it very deliberately and I tell people normally I would not do this, but I like this project and I believe in what you're doing, and I'm willing to work with you to reduce the scope of the project to meet your budget, and most of them will do that because they want to work with me or with a writer of my caliber, and that really does make a difference.

Treasa Edmond:

Other than that, though, seriously, I have to integrate this bargaining thing, because there are a couple of situations. Remember that, folks remember it. There might be a situation where, if you are going to offer a course, you could use it, and yeah, white paper writing is such a complex topic anyway. That's. That was brilliant. I'm so happy you did that.

Treasa Edmond:

I can't wait to see what you do with it.

Eagranie Yuh:

I've just got to do something with it. Oh, I do want to mention one more thing, Teresa, and this goes back to what we talked about on day two is that it's a really good idea to have a buffer as a freelancer because cash flow is so tricky to manage.

Eagranie Yuh:

And so rule of thumb somebody told me very early on is every invoice that gets paid, one third for taxes, one third for later, one third for now. So if you don't have a buffer, that's okay, but start now so that you do have that buffer, so that you are in a situation where you can evaluate projects based on their fit, based on whether or not you can make a contribution, whether or not you like the client rather than I really need this work, but you can totally fix it.

Treasa Edmond:

Yeah, and that buffer matters for other things as well. When are you going to take vacation? You need to have saved up money to allow yourself to do that, so that you can still pay your bills on those months, and hopefully you are taking more than a week a year. If you're not scheduling vacation in, do it. The other thing I would recommend is, if it's a potential client that you really want to work with, then discuss scope. If not, let it go. Pull on your work hat and scramble. Go out there and ask for referrals. Go to old clients and say I have an opening in my schedule. Do you have any projects I can work with you on right now? Sometimes you can spend the same amount of time in marketing that you would working on the lower priced project and you'll get three times as much work at your normal rate.

Treasa Edmond:

So don't fall into the trap of oh my gosh, I need this money next week. Spend a little bit of time marketing. Let them know I need to consider this. I'll send a proposal and then spend a couple of hours really reaching out to people and you might drum up a project that is worth more than twice as much. That actually mitigates the whole issue, and then all you have to do is reach out to this client and say this just doesn't fit with my business goals right now. I'm happy to refer you to another writer or another designer or another whatever, but don't underestimate the power of. I need this to help your marketing take hold, Because you're more confident reaching out whenever you're in a situation where you really need to bring in the income.

Eagranie Yuh:

Absolutely. It's the opportunity cost right the time that you're spending. It's not, as you say, like the kick in the pants. To do your marketing is probably a couple of hours and you also have to consider the time that you'd be spending on this project, probably resenting the client, and what you could be doing instead. Is there a better fit project for you that could be gotten through a little bit of panic marketing, through just a different approach than should I take this project?

Treasa Edmond:

So, to wrap all of this up, the question is do I take the lower rate this one time? It's not a yes or no answer, it's a maybe but answer. So look at all of the possibilities. Do a little bit of marketing before you do the call. See where you can land. You might land up and not even have to take this call. So it all depends.

Eagranie Yuh:

All right.

Treasa Edmond:

come back tomorrow for our last question with Eagranie, and then on day five of this week, we're going to learn more about her and her business.

Accepting Lower Rates for Clients
Negotiating Rates and Managing Finances
Marketing Strategies and Decision Making

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