Having The Money Talk With Freelancers

It’s inevitable in business to make money decisions. You have a responsibility to stay in business so you can provide opportunities for others. This goes well beyond money, but money does help all this happen. That’s just the foundation of life itself. It is a constant battle for balance and fairness, but one that you do not have to fear.

Money decisions = valueThe hardest part is having a money talk with freelancers. They are a business onto themselves, so they can charge what they like, take the jobs they see fit, and pass over the ones they don’t want. They can, and should, be asking their worth. You, as a person seeking their services, often want to maximise value.

Notice, I said value, not pay the least price. Keep that in mind for every money decision because it’s important as you get what you pay for. And when you are cheap, the services you get reflect that.

If value is the capacity to serve, then it should serve your company, but also your clients.

The foundation lies in good people, transparency, and integrity.

It starts with integrity and you. No one business starts out as a mass of people without a direction. It starts with intentionally building in systems that weaves integrity into the very fibre of the business. This should be reflected in the services and products, customer service, financial realms, and even how supplies are used. The best way to earn trust is to provide some transparency in how your operations are run.

When every aspect of your company are built with integrity woven in, people believe in your mission a lot more. It naturally attracts good people to work with. They see that you are real, and that’s something that gives them the confidence to work with you ─ even if the price is lower than what they would normally take.

For every money decision you make in your company, it’ll be backed up automatically by this foundation you’ve put down. Transparency in policies help earn trust, which can amazingly help you build a network of people willing to help. And this network is just as valuable as the liquidity you would pay the freelancers with.

You have more to trade than just money.

Barter value for each party.A lot of times freelancers seek more than money. They need money to pay the bills, sure, but they also need referrals, reviews, network connections, supplies, training, etc. As you’re making money decisions, think about if what you’re investing in can also be offered as a payment.

For example, when we bought the new printer for Insanitek, we offered free, unlimited use of for any local Insanitekian. For our long-term freelancers, they know they can find a list of contacts in Asana that they can reach out to as part of their extended network. We also give these long-term contacts the possibility of being reimbursed on a conference/meeting/other personal development event.

Whatever you have for trade, you need to make sure it has an equivalent value for the freelancer. Not all people would think that a trade of an e-course on leadership would be valuable for their time and hard work. Remember that value equals service? Something that serves them, but also their company and clients is of high value for them.

Negotiate the values as a money decision, too.

Before you talk to a prospective freelancer, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What can you trade that goes above and beyond to the people who help you?
  • How much money can you afford to pay them for the project?
  • What values do you place on the things you can offer them? What value would THEY place on it?

Then, as you have this list off to the side, you write the advert for them. When you state how much you’re willing to pay, offer a moderate amount, somewhere between really too cheap and your max. Make sure you put in the advert somewhere that the payments are negotiable. This will set the stage.

Then, as the freelancers write in, be prepared to be honest. You have your notes about how much you can afford, and you have your notes about what else you can offer. Try to keep the monetary cost similar to your moderate quote, but tell them what else you can offer in exchange.

Don’t knock down their value. Instead, decrease the scope you’re asking for. 

Example: We hire freelance writers, graphic designers, and researchers all the time. These jobs take time, resources, and if you want them to do a good job, you need to make sure they understand their own value. If a researcher promises to give you three full pages of summarised papers with their citations in a week on a specific topic, then you could reduce the scope by asking for only one page for a third of the cost. It’s not decreasing their value for the time they spent on it, so they have more time to do a better job reading and summarising clearly.

But, if you really need those extra papers, see what else you can offer them. Maybe you can come to an agreement for two pages if you send them 5 referrals at the beginning of the project they can reach out to or find another project so they don’t have to invest time and effort into convincing another client.


How can you help the freelancers you work with?

Freelancers, how would you like to negotiate and what would you find valuable?