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Freelancers Doing free work and sub charging

I was chatting with a client who had a budget of 120$. We agreed for the project, suddenly he chatted me up saying another person is proposing 70$. I guess he wanted a cheap work, but I still insisted, that I wasn’t going to compromise quality. He came back and told me the same person has made a free 30 seconds video without asking him for money, and also he even reduced the price to 50$. Are we supposed to do free work to get clients? I think we have a lot of bad eggs here, who would do anything to get a job, and maybe mess it up when they figure out the price is way low than the job. Have you encountered this problem? How do we compete with people selling very cheap and doing free work before you could even type a letter? Suggestions please.


Have you read this thread yet?


Bear in mind too that the client said he was offered all this :wink:


Nowadays, this is one of the big problem we faced. I think It can be the buyers tricks, and some new seller offer less budget for a big project.

That same methodology led to the closure of my newspaper in 2016.

My competitor undercut my rates to where I lost more business than I made.

It was a slow, painful death.

Now, years later, my competitor is struggling to survive in a digital world and I’m thriving.

My point?

Don’t cheapen your product.

It may reduce your business for a while but those who recognize the value of what you do will be what keeps you alive.

Or something like that.


Whenever a client comes and tells me this (happens I would say once a month), I always say, “If you’re on a budget I highly encourage you to book that photographer.” And leave it that. Most of the time they come back, but I don’t want to work with a client who does not see my worth anyway. They always turn out to be problematic or have outrageous demands in the end. Let them go, it will save you the headache.


You don’t compete with them :wink:
First of all you don’t know if what your buyer said was true.
Secondly he received all that cheap and free stuff however he still wanted your services.
What does it tell you? That he wasn’t satisfied with that cheap option quality. That’s why he is trying to negotiate with you.

Just keep strong and keep saying no and keeping your prices.


The moment a prospective buyer mentions anything like this to me I tell them I’m out.

It’s not a bidding war. It’s not a race to the bottom. If the client wants quality, they pay for quality. However, even more important is the approach a buyer takes. I’m just not comfortable working for anyone who tries this cheap and nasty tactic. Have some pride.


Funny story. Got a prospective buyer asking for a free sample recently. I simply and politely stated I do not do bespoke trials and samples, and that my past work is available to read on two links that can be found in my FAQ section. They said no problem and never spoke to me again.

This type of response speaks volumes about what type of arrangement it could have been. For one, they may have been looking for free samples to use without ever intending on ordering. It was also possible that they may start asking for added work without paying a dime extra. Or even have incredibly unreasonable expectations that they conveniently trickled down over time. Or worse, they could have been the type of client that would treat me like an employee.

Bottom line for me is that free sample request = red flag. We have portfolios, websites and other ways to demo our skills and services. I can’t think of a good reason whatsoever to ask for bespoke trials.

Never had anyone place me in a bidding war but if it were ever to happen, like @english_voice said, I’d be instantly out. There are three parts to any project: time, money and quality. One can typically have any combination of two of these factors. Expecting a low price, done fast and at a high quality is a fool’s errand at best. Trying to get someone who shoots for quality at a high price to cut down the price doesn’t mean you get the same high quality.