Working with friends can be a potentially touchy situation. There’s temptation to compromise your process and your rates “because they’re a friend.”

If you’re going to work with friends at all, it’s important that you charge full price. A good friend will pay full price and not try take advantage of you. When you discount your rate, you invite compromise of all kinds.

When work is done for free or at a discount, neither party feels invested. The project is less important to the client because they’re not paying for it, and you as the professional feel under compensated. As a result, the final product suffers.

What’s the Best Way to Tell the Client My Price?

Cory shares his most recent dilemma: what to charge a client to film a wedding for a friend. He’s got some great plans in store for this project but he’s also concerned about communicating them to the client. Cory wonders how to convey his price to the client in a way that sounds confident while also conveying his excitement for the project.

He asks, “Do you think I should tell the client that I’ve been thinking of a ton of ideas, I’m really excited about it, throw my price in there, and then explain all of the other things I could do for them? What’s the best way to let the client know all of these things?”

Quote your price with confidence and lay out your process.

Tell the client everything you’ll be doing, how you’re going to do it, and how you’ll approach it.

“How do I tell the client I’m going to have a second camera man?”

Convey this in the process. When you indicate that you’ll have multiple cameras setup with a partner to capture Angle 1 and Angle 2 of a certain part of the event, the client will intuit that the quoted amount is going towards paying multiple people. It will help it be seen as a serious production that’s being thought through.

How Should I Portray My Excitement About This Project?

You might be tempted to say, “I’m really excited about this! I’d love to work with you! I hope I get this opportunity!” It’s understandable that you’re trying to convey excitement, the problem is this will come across as desperation to the client if you say it in so many words.

If you sound too eager, they might take it as you being willing to come down in price. It’s a fine balance between passion and desperation. Bake that excitement into the thoroughness of your proposal.

Channel your excitement into the process you outline.

When you convey your vision for the project through the process, it instills confidence in the client. It shows that you’ve given the story-telling process some thought.

In your initial proposal, make sure to outline both what you expect of the client and what they can expect of you.

Tell the client everything that they’re responsible for up front. Tell them what they need to do, when they need to do it, and what you’re going to handle—leave nothing left to wonder. You can even list out what the client isn’t responsible for to further instill confidence.

If you’re vague, the client will worry.

“When giving the quote, should I say, ‘Looking forward to working with you,’ or, ‘Looking forward to hearing back from you?'”

Definitely be personable, but don’t sound overly enthusiastic so it’s not interpreted as desperation.

In what order should I give the process?

Your proposal should break down like this:

  • A creative brief.
    • This is an overview of the project and what they’re going to get.
  • An overview of the process.
    • Let the client know exactly what they can expect from you as well as what you expect from them.
  • Project time frame.
  • When are they going to hear from you?
  • How long are you going to work on it?
  • When will they get the final product?
  • Quoted amount and how you’ll be invoicing them.
    • Project price and payment terms (e.g. 50% up front, 50% upon completion).
  • Don’t Give Friend Discounts

    You need to feel so well compensated that you don’t even have to think about money during a project. Your focus should be on telling the best story and capturing everything you need. You’re doing them a disservice if you undercharge.

    If you hire a friend, for cheap or for free, neither party will take the project seriously.

    Ultimately, you get what you pay for. I’m not saying not to hire friends. I’m wanting to stress the importance of setting a project’s expectations, time frame, and communicating clearly about money.

    Not setting expectations is what makes projects fall through and friendships go bad.

    Price Using Tiered Packages

    Take the proposal you would provide if you were only giving a single option and create a tier above that. Add value to a higher option. If you also add a tier below your main option, make sure you’re not arbitrarily discounting your rates.

    Only do a project for less if you’re removing features.

    Don’t take away so many features that the end product suffers.

    Give a higher-tier option for these reasons:

    1. They may be able to afford more value than you think. You could be surprised.
    2. It serves as a price anchor. This gives the perception that the lower tiers aren’t very expensive.

    Restaurants use price anchoring by placing items on the menu that they don’t necessarily expect people to buy but makes other items look less expensive. If you only give one price, the client will try to take a bargaining angle. They’ll think you will go cheaper if they only want part of the package. Instead of having one package with optional add-ons, create all-inclusive packages in ideally 3 separate tiers.