Freelancing is awesome, there’s no doubt about that. Freelancing also means that you will have to do all the work yourself, before you get to take amazing pictures for you clients you will have to obtain the job by negotiating all of the details (conditions, expenses, usage of your work, and compensation). The difference between knowing how to negotiate or just agreeing with your client could make for a completely different outcome of events. It could vary all the way from not getting the job to getting paid multiple times the initial amount and much more.
Just like most people, I used to think that negotiation was one of those skills that some have, and other's don't. But, like any other skill, it can be learned through practice and effort. I am far from being an expert in negotiation, but I now have a good idea of how negotiating works. Getting better at negotiating will require for you to know the process of negotiation, if the other party knows how to negotiate, and you don’t…you will most likely lose.
These are the things that I keep in mind when negotiating with a client:
Be confident. Don’t confuse confidence with being pushy, just make it clear that you need to be taken seriously. Make sure you are treating them the way they are treating you.
Be Flexible. By definition negotiating means “to come to terms or reach an agreement”. That doesn’t mean you have to automatically accept the other party's terms. It means that both parties should work together to get to an agreement.
Listen. Make sure to listen carefully, and try to understand the other side's perspective. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it, just make sure that you really know what they want, and why.
Follow through. Make sure to complete every little part of your deal. Create a plan that clearly states what is going to happen after you get to an agreement.
Brainstorm. If you can’t come to an agreement, brainstorm different solutions. Think of what else you can get out of the deal, or you can offer to your client.
Negotiation goes really deep, and we are going to give you some real examples in the next part. Meanwhile there’s great book that you can read that is specifically written for photographers and goes into the smallest details of negotiation.