I wasn’t always good at negotiating. As a writer, I was usually just delighted to be getting paid anything at all, so if I was told a freelance rate or a starting salary was standard or set in stone, I took it and I liked it, with the kind of deranged enthusiasm that you only have at the beginning — until a few years ago, when I walked into my boss’ office and quit my job. I didn’t have another full time job lined up; I quit so I could freelance full time.
Suddenly, I had to hustle. I was pitching stories sometimes multiple times a week, and negotiating a rate for each and every one. I wasn’t great at it at first—it was scary to ask for more money even when an assignment clearly called for it. But I did, again and again. Soon, I had it down—I was successfully negotiating for a higher rate more often than I wasn’t, I found a steady freelance gig I could count on for steady cash-flow, and by the end of my second year freelancing, I was raking in more than I had ever made when I had a full time job.
Anyway, so just wanted to share all my good fortune. Hope you guys are good, we should totes get together for a drink sometime, byeeeee.
Oh, wait, you wanted some advice for how you can become a better negotiator too? Sure, I’ve got that.
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One of my favorite coats is a gorgeous knee-length number that coordinates with almost anything. The best thing about this coat is that I paid the criminal price of $10 for it. I found it on a clearance rack. It was the only coat of its kind and happened to be in my size; our relationship was obviously meant to be. It lacked a price tag, however, and I was scared this meant it would be expensive. When I asked the cost, the manager pulled a jacket of lesser quality from the same rack and said she’d give me my coat for the same insanely low price. Delighted, I showed her where the coat was missing a button, thinking she would have a suggestion for replacing it. Instead she shrugged and offered to knock off an additional 10 percent. I couldn’t hand over my debit card fast enough, and when I got home? The missing button was tucked in the pocket.
As adorable as the coat is, the amazing bargain makes me love it more. While my steal was more the result of a tired manager than my intense negotiating skills, it definitely whet my appetite for wheeling a good deal. Knowing how to ask for one can be intimidating, though. Jim Camp, negotiation skills trainer and coach, and author of Start with No, offered this advice for the negotiating novice. Keep reading »