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Need a gut check on a fixed-price project

robin_hyman
Community Guru
Robin H Member Since: May 28, 2019
1 of 12

Hey guys,

 

Last week I started a fixed-price copywriting project.  Spoke to 3 people at the company before they offered me the job including Upwork communication, a phone call and a video conference.  After I provided my price quote they requested a $100 discount and I pushed back since my time and skills are valuable.  They obliged and sent me the contract with 1 milestone for the entire amount.  It took me about 2 days to submit (our agreement) via Upwork's submission tool. 

 

After the submission they started emailing about more projects.  I was open to discussing but was clear that I couldn't start until the previous milestone was released.  Fast foward to last night and after another call, the payment was released.  We started to review my process for the next project.  One of the contacts asked for a quick 10-minute video conference this morning to review the deliverables.  After about a 45-minute video conference this morning, I realized their ask was unreasonable (too much work due by 3:30pm Friday).  So I pushed back and guaranteed I could turn around about 1/2 of the project in that time and separated my pricing into 2 deliverables.  Now they've responded it is overpriced.  I very nicely tell them my price is based on the time it takes me to complete and my hourly rate plus the impact this may have on other clients.  I gave them a $100 discount but I feel icky about the whole thing. 

 

So my gut tells me I did the right thing and perhaps shouldn't have even given a discount.  If they come back to ask for more of a discount I'm going to have to decline the job.  I'm just concerned that they've paid me for the first milestone and of course may provide a poor feedback lowering my JSS.  

 

Any advice on how I've handled so far and how to manage moving forward?  Appreciate it. 

 

Robin

martina_plaschka
Community Guru
Martina P Member Since: Jul 11, 2018
2 of 12

Robin H wrote:

Hey guys,

 

Last week I started a fixed-price copywriting project.  Spoke to 3 people at the company before they offered me the job including Upwork communication, a phone call and a video conference.  After I provided my price quote they requested a $100 discount and I pushed back since my time and skills are valuable.  They obliged and sent me the contract with 1 milestone for the entire amount.  It took me about 2 days to submit (our agreement) via Upwork's submission tool. 

 

After the submission they started emailing about more projects.  I was open to discussing but was clear that I couldn't start until the previous milestone was released.  Fast foward to last night and after another call, the payment was released.  We started to review my process for the next project.  One of the contacts asked for a quick 10-minute video conference this morning to review the deliverables.  After about a 45-minute video conference this morning, I realized their ask was unreasonable (too much work due by 3:30pm Friday).  So I pushed back and guaranteed I could turn around about 1/2 of the project in that time and separated my pricing into 2 deliverables.  Now they've responded it is overpriced.  I very nicely tell them my price is based on the time it takes me to complete and my hourly rate plus the impact this may have on other clients.  I gave them a $100 discount but I feel icky about the whole thing. 

 

So my gut tells me I did the right thing and perhaps shouldn't have even given a discount.  If they come back to ask for more of a discount I'm going to have to decline the job.  I'm just concerned that they've paid me for the first milestone and of course may provide a poor feedback lowering my JSS.  

 

Any advice on how I've handled so far and how to manage moving forward?  Appreciate it. 

 

Robin


A client that constantly haggles on price will never be happy, because he never got it as cheap as he really wanted, and no matter how great your work is, they will not leave perfect feedback. I would back out of this thing as elegantly as you can. 

robin_hyman
Community Guru
Robin H Member Since: May 28, 2019
3 of 12

I appreciate the advice, Martina.  

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 12

If you ARE interested in working with a fixed-price client, but have concerns about the client's penchant for haggling, or for other reasons, then simply declining to work with that client is always a viable option.

 

Perhaps that is the best option.


HOWEVER, if you are interested in working with a fixed-price client, then another option is to simply state that you are willing to work with him, but for both of your sakes, let's start with just the first piece. Something that would take you about an hour. Maybe it is a relatively small amount of money. If the client is willing to do a fixed-price contract (ONE milestone in the contract) for that task, and for that amount, then go ahead and do it.

 

If the client proves to be professional and reliable, then you may continue to work on increasingly larger contracts.

 

If the client ends up being difficult, you can always decline further contracts. Or even walk away from the first one if necessary.

robin_hyman
Community Guru
Robin H Member Since: May 28, 2019
5 of 12

Thanks for your insights, Preston.  In this case I've already started a fixed-price project and completed the first milestone.  Payment has been released.  They haggled me on the first milestone and continue to haggle me on this next one.  Plus turnaround times are insane.  I'm willing to do the work but not willing to take the pay cut.  It's been an hour and they haven't gotten back to me.  I may have to decline this one and hope for the best.  

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 12

Robin,

You are not required to agree to future milestones.

 

You can close a contract YOURSELF at any time.


If you're working on something right now, then I would advice you to finish it, wait to receive the payment, and then immediately close the contract yourself.

 

Explain to the client that you are in the process of moving to hourly contracts for "this type" of work.

 

(You don't need to explain that "this type" means "work with unreasonable clients.")

 

Then the client may decide whether or not to continue working with you, using an hourly contract, or continue working with other freelancers.

poppyh
Ace Contributor
Carmela S Member Since: Sep 13, 2011
7 of 12

I would go with your gut. You have spent a lot of thought into your rate, based on your abilities and time. Every client has seen your profile. The quality of your work was obviously acceptable to the people who hired you, since they want to give you more work. Going forward, I think the best thing to do is to always be polite. Phrase it any way that feels comfortable to you, and say that you understand, the rate you quote is fair value, and you would love to work with them if their budget changes. Never deal out of fear; you will regret it. If they give you a bad review, that's on them and it can't be helped. Stay positive, keep it classy.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
8 of 12

I definitely wouldn't have given them a discount. It creates a bad situation (they haven't gotten as much off as they want, so they're expecting a lot from you, and you're getting paid less than the project is worth, so probably don't feel good about it) and sets a bad precedent (why would they accept your quoted price in the future if they've learned you can be bullied?)

 

In that circumstance, I just say "I understand if you need to find a less expensive freelancer" and leave it to them to make a decision.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 12

re: "I understand if you need to find a less expensive freelancer"

 

Or even: "a different freelancer"

 

joduxbury
Ace Contributor
Jo D Member Since: Jun 14, 2017
10 of 12

Regarding discounts, what helped me was to think about creating a policy. For example, clients get 5% off if they've given me over $xx,xxx worth of work over yy months.

 

Discounts should be rewards for loyalty and regular work, if at all. A good client will value you and will even accept regular (e.g. annual) rate increases. 

 

With a policy in place, you can easily respond to any random requests for discounts by saying 'I offer discounts to clients who... [ your terms ]. Should we reach that point, I'd be happy to discuss a discount with you.'

 

My favourite response to 'Can't you bring the cost down a bit?' is 'Sure. What would you like me to leave out?'

 

Don't let clients bully you. There are enough good ones out there. Good luck. 

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