I had a weird email exchange earlier this year with a brand I’ve worked with before that left me well and truly stumped. They were back in touch asking for some rates for a few pieces of content they wanted me to make. I emailed back with my rate card which, is a standard set of base rates that I share with brands who don’t initially share budgets or briefs but want to know prices for things. I made sure, as always, to caveat that all these prices are base rates and subject to change based on receipt of full scope of work. So far, so normal…
I received a response a few days later saying that they wouldn’t be able to work with me because my rates were “out of their budget” and they can “see from my content there is no room for negotiation”. WAIT WHAT?! ✋
No doubt whilst perusing my Instagram account they had consumed much of my Influencer focused content, designed with the intention of empowering and inspiring women in their line of work. To assume that because I encourage you to not settle for less that you’re worth does not mean that the rates I sent are set in stone. They are base rates and they are designed to kick start a conversation about working together when a brand has given me little to no information on what the collaboration might look like.
Here’s how opening rates work…
In my experience most brands don’t want to disclose what budgets they have from the beginning – wrong, but ok. So tactically, the rates you send a prospective client who has not shared a brief, list of deliverables or budget with you are your “base rates” and can also be classed as opening rates.
Often you’ll hear people advise when a brand enquires about your rates with little to no brief, that you should go back and ask what their budget is, but I find this to be a bit of a playground tactic for those who aren’t very confident in negotiation. I also believe you run the risk of “painting yourself into a corner” as the client will tactically come back with a low ball number so as not to give away too much budget from the beginning and then it’s all uphill work from there.
Opening rates are designed to protect you against underpricing yourself when you’ve not been given all the details of the job ie: usage terms, which brands rarely disclose without a being probed during negotiations (again, wrong) or the scope of work… Maybe you’ll be asked to shoot in a location far from you and/or need help from a photographer which, means additional overheads that you might not have factored into your fee.
Base rates are designed to look like nice, middle ground and are not designed to “scare off” clients but set a precedent for the negotiations and the value of your work. My base rates are on the higher end of what an influencer of my following should be charging but I do that because I expect a negotiation amongst other reasons.
Use this tactic to avoid under selling yourself
Your base rates along with a simple caveat that I’ve outlined in my email example below will protect you from working for the original fees you shared should there be an increase in scope of work, usage or exclusivity add ons. This is my secret sauce! Also, these can always be revised based on the client your are speaking to.
And someone has to roll the first dice right, so why not you + they asked first.
Here’s what I do…
This little sentence leaves no room for misinterpretations and is my secret sauce whilst negotiating.
Over to you!
Keep that the front of your mind when you next send your base rates. Weigh up each email and reply carefully. Be flexible and clear to show you’re easy to work with. Politely sticking to your guns and walking away when something isn’t right for you is a good thing but it comes after all of the above 👆 unless you’re Beyoncé, in which case Cough up or move along 😂
To have a client shut down a conversation because they assumed I wasn’t open to negotiate BLEW my mind because that’s exactly what my job is, to negotiate a deal that works for everyone but not forgetting this 👉 if I don’t look after ME then no one else will. When you enter a negotiation I would always encourage you to have your opening rates, the rate you’d be willing to accept and be prepared to walk away from anything less than that.
I’d love to know if you found this helpful? Did you put this template to the test? Let me know how you got on in teh comments.
Fancy even more tips and advice on becoming a Content Creator. Check out more of my creator blogs here.