When going into a meeting with a potential graphic design client, negotiating cost will often be the most difficult part of the conversation. Talking about the design or technical side of a project is usually relatively easy. In a negotiation, both parties should be looking for a mutually beneficial relationship; the designer gets a price he or she sees as fair for the amount of work, and the client gets quality work within their budget.
A helpful method of handling negotiation is to go in knowing both your ideal rate and lowest possible rate for a project. If you are put in the position of quoting a job without knowledge of budget, or if the budget is somewhat lower than you can work for, start by quoting your desired rate. This should be a fair rate based on variables such as the hours needed to complete the project, the copyright use of the work, and time frame.
Ideally, the client will agree and you can continue with the project. However, you will often be told the budget is too high. It is in this case that it is helpful to have already determined the lowest price you are willing to take the job for. While you may not have to go to your lowest price immediately or at all, sticking to it will help avoid regretting the result of the negotiation.
In the end, it’s important to remember that it’s ok to not get every job, rather than take jobs that will leave you working too many hours for not enough pay. It’s also important to quote fairly based the job, rather than going high for clients that you think have the money, and low for lower-budget clients out of fear of losing the job. Of course other factors come into play, such as current workload and the need to pay the bills, but under regular circumstances sticking to your rates and keeping in mind an ideal and low price can help land jobs that are right for you.