A huge factor in a freelancer's success is how good they are at advocating for themselves financially. Getting a great rate or being fairly compensated for extra work almost always requires speaking up, but many of us have grown up learning that it's impolite to talk about money. But according to financial coach and "Money Whisperer" Olga Kirshenbaum, it's so important to be comfortable bringing up money, even if, yes, things get awkward for a second.
Here are three tips on how to do it:
Prepare for financial conversations
Inevitably, you'll have clients who don't pay you on time or offer a really low rate. Before you start the money talk, Kirshenbaum suggests planning what you'll say to different potential scenarios.
If you're asking when you'll get paid, do you know when they're legally obligated to process your invoice or what your deadline is? If they can't pay you now, do you have backup ideas (such as a payment plan?) Knowing this ahead of time makes it easier to respond to any potential surprises along the way.
One more thing: In following up, make sure to not go in expecting the worst intentions, especially considering the current state of the world. Kirshenbaum urges a compassionate approach, opening your emails with something like "I hope you're doing well and staying safe right now."
Explore your money boundaries
If you're self-employed, it's a good idea to know how much financial flexibility you actually have, according to Kirshenbaum. Are you a spender or saver? If you theoretically got no extra income for the next month, how ok would you be, rent-wise? Knowing these things helps dictate whether you can afford to take on lesser-paying passion projects, for instance.
Take charge of negotiation talks
It's really hard to negotiate when you don't know your "hard-no", says Kirshenbuam. It's also difficult to start that conversation in the first place if you don't have the confidence to walk away, and you can't have that confidence if you haven't set a personal limit for yourself.
Taking the time to know what you want financially—and what you can realistically ask for—sets you up for a career of higher payments and success.
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