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Community Member

Prospective Client wants to change contract type and lower rate offered.



I think this may also fall under the 'New to Upwork' category, but I'd appreciate guidance from seasoned freelancers.


I recently made a proposal for a writing job, which offered an attractive fee on an hourly rate. 

In my proposal, I specified the unique experience I have, which I believe would add value to my proposal and be of benefit to the client, should they decide to hire me.


The client responded positively - specifically mentioning how my unique experience would be 'a big plus' - and went on to ask if I had a rate per word.


I gave him what I termed a 'standard rate', highlighting that it was subject to change, depending on the volume/research/correspondence etc.  I should stipulate that I don't feel I offered to do the work for that rate.  I offered to do it for the rate that included in my proposal.


He also asked how long I estimate it would take, to which I replied between 3-6 hours per page (500 words)


In his reply, he said that he accepts my per word rate, and said he intends to change it to a fixed rate contract.


My rough calculations suggest, that if I were to accept the fixed contract at the rate he has now determined, I would stand to earn considerably less overall, than had he accepted my quoted hourly rate -- by about 40% or more!


My initial thought is to point him back to the original job posting (and the rate offered therein).


I am in a dilemma as to how I should respond and would appreciate any guidance on the matter.



Community Member

How are you in a dilema, is he holding a gun to your head? Simply reply with a counter-offer, or do the job at the rate offered and take the 40%+/- loss. If it were me I would make a counter-offer and mention the wide disparity between the original hourly proposal and the new fixed-rate one. Worst case scenario you don't get the job, which is not exactly the end of the world. 

Community Member

If you can't agree on rates then say thanks but no thanks and move on - 'dilemma' solved.

Steve B wrote:


He also asked how long I estimate it would take, to which I replied between 3-6 hours per page (500 words)



3-6 hours for 500 words?

I'm not surprised the client doesnt want to pay at hourly rates.

Community Member

Honestly, this sounds like a pricing issue on your part. You opened the door to the price/word when you gave it to him, and if that price per word doesn't match your hourly rate and your speed, then at least one of those three (price per word, hourly rate, or speed) needs to change. I totally get that's not always an easy formula to get right.


Does the offer he sent match the word rate times the time estimate you gave him? If not, definitely ask him to change it.


Otherwise, you've got three choices: take the fixed-price that matches what you told him, ask for a higher fixed price based on your new estimate, or ask for an hourly contract. The second option will make him not happy, and the third one will probably make him not happy when you exceed the fixed-price amount.


But again, this comes back to managing the client in your interview: if you want an hourly contract, steer the interview away from fixed-price, and vice versa.

Hello Wes,

Yeah, I guess it wasn't a great idea to respond to the $/word question -- lesson learned.  


I had hoped that he would take note of the fact that the $/word rate was conditional, but you know what they say about assumptions.


His offer comes in at the lower end of my time estimate, and it may take up to twice that time.


I'm almost inclined just to take it, as there is more work possible, once the first phase is completed.  


Thank you for your insights.

Community Member

Two things: It is very unwise to play with your hourly rate. Always charge your profile rate, not more, not less. This is what you advertise to the world you think an hour of your time is worth. It is not supposed to change depending on a specific contract. That is just basic marketing.

Charge per word or per 500 word article, this is the better option for that kind of work. 

Look for other clients, you burned this one with unneccessary discussions. This client will never be happy with your service. 

Thank you Martina.

I charge my posted hourly rate.


If a client wants to quibble about that, they are probably going to lose my attention entirely.

Community Member

There are some toxic clients like this, especially in the writing and marketing segment who are actually outsourcing works they got as outsourced and trying to keep their cut from there. 

In any situation, before accepting any contract, I would suggest clarifying everything before setting up the contract.

Negotiating after accepting a contract, is the worst idea.

To make things worse some clients would pay you first and then try to push your rates down by intimidating you about the reviews. In those cases, if you work on an hourly contract and use the UpWork team app to log your hours, you are covered by UpWork and will get the payments for the hours you have worked.

But an intentional bad review is on the table in that case and this is the best way to ruin the Job Success Score of your UpWork profile. UpWork doesn't give a **bleep** about how skilled you are or how low you are getting paid. What matters to them is that clients pay money. Although you pay for the connects or buy the monthly Freelancer Plus package, you won't get any likely help from UpWork because the business model doesn't allow them to do so.

So, if you haven't charged your client yet, I suggest negotiating everything by starting the conversation and ending the contract if you find it isn't a good match. In the long run, a toxic client will do you a lot of harm which is very hard to tackle. 

If you are serious about your UpWork Freelancer Profile, be very wary about picking up the clients. It's not about getting offers. It's about saying no to offers that you shouldn't have said yes to.

I dropped to 47% right from the Top Rated Plus tier. Have a look at my profile and decide for yourself if I really uphold that quality. A couple of desperate contracts pushed me at the brink of destruction and I don't want this to happen to any of my fellow freelancers. 

Hope this helps.

Sahan (Unofficial Nickname)

Thank you.

Community Member

Steve B wrote:

He also asked how long I estimate it would take, to which I replied between 3-6 hours per page (500 words)

What are you writing about? Quantum Physics?
I suspect the client felt taken advantage of considering your profile shows that you've just written 750 words (50% MORE) for an hour's worth of a fixed rate.


Community Member

Hello Petra,


No, not quantum physics.  Ha ha.


However, the project will require a considerable amount of research (probably several days), involve corresponding with the client and other sources on specifics  (again, taking up time), necessitating consumption of various resources  (incurring costs to myself), collating, organizing and structuring the research etc.


It is not simply a matter of sitting down and writing - and since all of these require my time, energy, experience, expertise, and a skill-set unique to the particulars of the brief, which he has not been able to find elsewhere, I bid at what I thought was a fair rate, factoring in all of the above.  


Furthermore, if a client advertises their willingness to pay a specified range, I expect them to be willing to pay said rate.  Or at least have the common decency to ask whether I would be prepared to negotiate and/or consider a fixed rate over an hourly rate. 


He has completely ignored my stipulation (as mentioned above) that the rate was subject to criteria, and yet unilaterally decided to move the goalposts.


He is, of course, completely entitled to change his mind, but not to assume that I will agree to his new terms, or have bid in the first place for a project that is not worth my while.


Also please bear in mind that an Upwork profile is not a complete career history of a freelancer, but a snapshot of their work since they joined the platform.  I am looking for assistance in resolving an issue, not unwarranted sarcasm, nor a forensic critique of my profile.

Community Member

My suggestion is to LEAVE a client like that ALONE.   If they advertised ONE thing in the job and then tried to change the 'rules' afterwards, that's often nothing but trouble.  Also, you mentioned possible needing to do 'research' and 'correspondence' as part of the writing:  Those are things that are kind of difficult to 'scope' out and 'quantify' because you have no idea how much 'research' you may be required to do.  If you accept a fixed rate price, the client can end up asking for 4-5x more work than you expected.  I NEVER accept a 'fixed rate' unless the deliverable  need and amount of work required (and expected) to produce that deliverable  is CRYSTAL clear.   Once you start throwing in things like 'research' that can take variable amounts of time, you can end up getting ripped off by accepting a 'fixed price'.  


One of the services I offer is technical writing: If I see an hourly job to write a 20-page requirements document, then find out the client wants a "fixed rate" and then mentions I would also need to GATHER the requirements through an unknown number of interviews and an unknown number of hours of 'research', I say "Sorry, I can't help you."  The amount of work required is not FIXED so I cannot offer a FIXED rate.  That's a client trying to "low ball" you and rip you off by getting an "unlimited" amount of work for a cheap price.  Treat it like drugs and "just say NO" is my suggestion

Nailed it!


Sahan (Unofficial Nickname)
Community Member

For the sake of closure:  I wrote to the client and explained the situation from my side.  He apologized for the misunderstanding and took on board everything I had to say.  Turns out he is new to the platform and appreciated the guidance  We have now come to a point where he is prepared to pay the rate at which I bid, and agrees that it is a fair price.  We have also created a template for future projects that we plan to do together.  So much for burning clients, sarky comments about work speed etc.  I feel by being upfront and direct with the client - you may lose some but you'll keep the ones worth keeping.

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