Thinking about
Dormammu, I've come to bargain!
Today, I want to talk with you about how to negotiate with a client. It’s important to keep in mind, that we are negotiating. The important point here is to agree: not defeat the client, not to cheat, but to come to a compromise and a profit agreement. I don’t particularly share the "client = enemy" approach, and I don’t know how to manipulate and deceive. Karma is a bitch.
This does not mean that I do not know my rights and obligations and will not stand up for myself. But sometimes my work will include an explanation and make some controversial points more simple because the client does not need to know all my rights and obligations.
So, let’s start with simple things, what in fact, a designer can sell:
Design work
Source files
Licences (terms, geography, circulation)
Qualifications, knowledge and time
Design Work
Direct work is understandable, this is what they came to you for, and further in the discussion, you can bargain for bonuses. And most importantly, you need to understand what exactly you are selling.
Source Files
You don’t usually need them. Well, they will help with the work if the client comes again. BUT! If you transfer the sources, the client can give them to his niece, who recently installed Photoshop for herself, and according to these sources, as a template, she can draw new layouts by herself (not always as good as you), and you will be left without a project and money. How much does the lost profit cost?
Thank God the illustrator community has started a conversation on this topic, but not all designers and their clients have applied it yet. When you sell exclusive rights to a design (corporate style, logo, website, exhibition style, catalogue) — this is all your profit from the project. But you can set limits. For example, by time or by geographic location. Or by the number of copies.

Most often, no one needs exclusive rights. The magazine will be printed in 2000 copies only in one country, although, of course, it’s nice to think that it will be sold in New York and Milan, the probability is usually small. And it’s rare that later it will be reprinted as a bestseller many times — it’s little to do with the magazine. But let’s pretend it did happen. Making the second circulation, the client doubles his profit. And you? You are left with a nose. I feel bad, you know.
Qualification, knowledge and time
This is something that everyone always forgets about. Set up a meeting — at least an hour there and back and grab a coffee. Calculate the price.

Your qualifications may already allow you to reduce the time for the project because you already know the "do and don't's" of similar projects. Why should you be paid less if you make the work quicker?

And my favourite thing is to consult a client, spending 2 hours of my time on it for free, and then he will go to another designer, having your knowledge and project pipeline. Again the question of lost profits. Maybe you should start making consultations?
But all this is a subject of discussion.
All clients and projects are different, sometimes you can give the source materials and improve relations with the client. Sometimes you can transfer the rights and stroke the client’s vanity with this (at the same time explain to him exactly where you made a favour to him). And sometimes, well you can ride to the millionth meeting because the client appreciates your contribution to the overall project.
But what is the subject of discussion? What is your selling point?
The most important thing in negotiations is the starting point.
For example, laying out a book layout costs 2'000 euros and takes a month. This price includes 2 options of master layouts to choose from, light edits from the proofreader, and circulation of 1000 copies in one country. You will also need two meetings, the initial one to set up a brief, and the final one to sign the documents. You prepare the documents, and all correspondence is conducted remotely. The source materials remain with you, and you do the prepress. This is the starting point.
In an ideal world of butterflies and unicorns, the client says yes, let’s go. But, you know, this is not always like that. The main rule — is not just to agree on every client’s suggestion. This will lead to the fact that the client may take advantage of your weakness (this is very tempting) and in the future, you will have to abandon the project, because the client will do whatever he wants. And you will still be named guilty. Keep your balance. If somewhere it decreased, somewhere it should increase. It’s just the law of balance.
Points of negotiation
Too expensive. The budget is only 1'500 euros.

If we lessen the budget, how can we keep the balance? You extend time: you will stretch the project for 2 months and will do it together with other projects. OR. You do not make changes after the proofreader, but the client’s proofreader does this. OR. You sell a license for 500 copies, and let the client buy the rest, when he has additional 500 euros. OR. The client undertakes all documents, including the preparation of a brief and the collection of materials.

You can mix it all for a proper combination.

Think about what you could lay out from the initial basket for 500 euros. Alternatively, you can even subcontract with your art direction. Most likely it will be longer, but the client will save money.
It’s too long. We have only 2 weeks.

First of all, you need to understand whether it is realistic to make such an amount of work in two weeks. If it’s not realistic, count the shortest amount of time you need and tell the client. And then, understand what will it cost you to finish the project twice as fast. You may have to pay a penalty to other customers (usually from 0.1 to 10% per day of delay). Or you will have to stay awake or miss the birthday of a loved one, and then be sure to take a vacation for a few days to restore the resources.

Therefore, the easiest way is to increase the budget for the cost of penalties and vacations after the project and/or reduce edits and options. For example, in 2 weeks you will make only one version of the master layouts. And if you still need two, then you will have to refuse two other clients and pay them a fine of 500 euros. This is how much you need to increase your budget.
I want other licences, 3000 copies and all over the world

Everything is simple here — multiply the increase according to the circulation and geographical distribution.
I don’t want to do paperwork

It’s also simple. Calculate how much time will it take you to complete the paperwork and add that to the price.
I want the source files

Think about the lost profit here. The client can make the edits and make another book design based on your style and you will not get a penny. So how much does it cost?
Remember, a decreasing economy will kill you as a freelancer. If you earn less than your living wage, you will not be able to continue doing this.
It is also important to remember that many clients are not bad guys who want to make money on you. They just don’t know the details of your work. Try to tell them what you mean and why you are making such demands. And if the client does not want to listen to your words in any way, leave. Slavery was abolished a long time ago.
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