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How to Re-Negotiate Your Freelance Rate

by Anna Wang, Legal Researcher at Shake

We’ve already talked about how to calculate your hourly rate, but what happens when the work changes and the rate you’ve negotiated no longer covers the work you’ll need to do? Let’s take a look at how to make your fee renegotiation as easy as possible for both you and your client.

Before beginning the project, you should have discussed the scope of the work with the client when negotiating your freelance rate. It is important to capture the agreed-upon scope in the contract, in as much detail as possible, so you and your client have a clear understanding of what your fees do and do not cover before you begin the project.

As the project evolves, there is always the possibility that the client will ask you to do work outside the original scope. In anticipation of this, the contract should indicate that additional work will mean additional fees. This isn’t because your negotiated fee wasn’t comprehensive of the anticipated work, but to acknowledge that situations sometimes change later down the line. You could accomplish this by setting out an hourly rate for time spent on the additional work or by stipulating that both parties will need to agree to an add-on to the original contract for the additional work.

When you clearly set out the scope of the work and how you and the client will handle your compensation for work outside the scope, you’ll both know what to expect if the scope changes. At the very least, the client will understand why you are renegotiating.

Tips when drawing up the contract:

  • Be clear and detailed in the contract in setting the scope of work. Ask your client questions, anticipate potential scenarios, and flesh out the specifics. Erring on the side of being more detailed may take a little bit more time, but doing so will save you and your client potential headaches.
  • Clearly state in the contract that there will be additional fees for work beyond the original scope. If you can, specify what those fees will be.
  • Make sure the client knows that you won’t begin (and bill for) additional work without prior approval.
  • Set dates for you to check in with your client on the progress of the work and whether you’re still on scope.

Tips to get the client to agree to a modified scope:

  • Approach the renegotiation of fees as a presentation you’re doing to get the client on your side. Set out what the fee had originally covered. Describe the work you’ve done within the original scope and describe the work you will need to do, or have already done, that is outside the original scope.
  • Remind the client of her goals. Explain how the work will need to do or have already done outside the original scope is essential to meeting those goals.