Wudan Yan and how to negotiate in your freelance business

Wudan Yan trains us on how to flex your negotiation muscle as a business owner and what things you must have in any negotiation.
Wudan Yan and how to negotiate in your freelance business

Hero image by Devin Muñoz

A live look in at me when a client asks me for rates:
Client: What do you charge?
Me: Oh… uh… Here’s my rate.
Client: What about this rate (that is lower and a different structure)
Me: Oh yeah! Sure! That’s great too!

I’ve read the same blogs. I’ve seen the motivational LinkedIn posts. But in my brain, I can’t get over that I don’t have the right to demand more money from the other person. 

Maybe they need it more than I do.
Maybe they’re doing really great work and I believe in it.
Maybe I just… have never negotiated anything in this way before.

That’s Wudan Yan’s point - negotiation is a muscle you work to develop. Like weight training and marathon running, you don’t decide to do it one day and suddenly you’re breaking world records. In fact, just like a marathon, you shouldn’t decide to do it and then just go out and try to run 26.2 miles. It just won’t work. 

Instead, she encourages this:

Start negotiating for small things. Do it again and again and log your wins.

Until Wudan’s workshop, I had not considered there were other areas of freelancing that you could negotiate. Here are the must-haves as you begin training your negotiation muscle:

Get it in writing

Yes, an email will do here. But you absolutely should not close your negotiation over the phone and leave it at that. Ask for a follow-up email. Write a follow-up “as we discussed on the phone, please confirm via email” type email. Get it written so that if anything comes up later, you’ve got it on the record.

Itemize it

Like all great internet readers, you likely skimmed to the good bits of this article. Get your points clearly and concisely for your clients so there are no questions about what you’re asking for. They might say no, but you’ll know they read it and get their exact thoughts instead of wondering if they understood a long string of sentences like this one.

Highlight the change

If you’re negotiating a change in a contract, highlight (or bold or a different color, you do you) the changes so it’s easy for the client to see what changes they are agreeing to. No one really wants to read a contract and they definitely don’t want to read it twice to hunt for changes.

Don’t apologize

Wudan pointed out that you’re not seeing apologies on boxes of pasta that say “sorry this is $6.50 now even though it used to be $2.00.” The price is the price. Your price is your price. No apology necessary.

Know your walk away point

It’s pretty unlikely that your client will say yes to all of the points you’ve made (unless you’re only asking for one) so before you send the updates, know which are the most important. Know when to walk away from a client and go with confidence that it was the right decision for you. Wudan reminded us:

“It’s okay if a negotiation doesn’t work out. Not all clients are a good fit.”

This full workshop was packed with incredible information on taking your freelance business to the next level. If you’re looking for a coach who can help you with that 1:1, Wudan does that and you can find out more about her work on her website. Or you can see courses she’s created with The Writers’ Co-op.

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Michelle Lee
Michelle Lee
Michelle Lee worked in marketing and promotions for radio and event coordination for non-profits. Today, she uses those skills to sell the day’s schedule to three tiny humans. Michelle gets most excited about helping people reach their fullest potential and finding a G-2 .38 pen.
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