One of the questions that I’ve heard from colleagues since I started working as a freelancer is: how much should I charge for X?

I have already talked about pricing services and products in this blog, so I want to talk about the question that comes after this one: but my client is going to say that that’s too expensive, what can I do?

And that’s one of the most common problems. When we’re elaborating a quote for a client, we tend to think: “I can’t charge this because they’re going to think that I’m too expensive. I’ll charge this instead”.

Wrong. Actually I always recommend overcharging first, so we can have a bigger margin if we need to negotiate later on.

And let me tell you a secret: your client is likely to afford your first offer.

Most of the times, when you get one of these you are too expensive emails, it’s because they try to negotiate to get an offer or a better deal. But it’s very likely that they can afford it.

I am going to analyse the three most common situations in which you can receive this type of emails and how you can act to get the most positive answer.

Let’s dive in!

1. When most of your clients say that you are too expensive

If that’s your case, you don’t have a problem with the price of your products/services; you have a problem in your brand positioning.

You’re doing a good marketing job, as you’re attracting clients asking for a quote. However, you’re not attracting the right clients.

In other words, you’re not attracting clients that are willing to pay your prices.

This can be very dangerous, because you could be investing in a marketing that isn’t working for you. And you’re wasting your time elaborating quotes for clients that will never hire your services.

If you think that this is your case, you should step back and analyse your ICA.

Then ask yourself what actions are you doing in terms of marketing. List them and analyse if it’s working or not and what you can do instead.

Make sure that you make the most of your efforts when you work on your marketing and brand positioning.

2. When your client is trying to negotiate

Another common situation.

A company contacts you and then says that you are too expensive.

Of course, you’re pretty sure that a company can afford your prices. Well, that’s because they’re trying to negotiate.

This type of clients can be easily identified.

That’s why I recommend overcharging in first place. You should also set a price limit for your negotiation. Any offer behind this price should be out of the question.

You shouldn’t negotiate only on the price of an assignment but also on extra services that you normally offer, deadlines, etc.

For example, when I translate websites, I normally offer SEO and keyword research services to complement my translation services and offer a better job overall. Of course, this increases the price that I charge to my clients.

Some clients are willing to pay more for a better service, some aren’t. So I can reduce the price of my services just providing translation services and not including extra services.

Don’t hesitate to work on your negotiating skills to get the most of your sales conversations.

Also, maybe your clients don’t understand why you charge X for your services. In that case, your marketing isn’t really reflecting the added value of your services.

Ask yourself: why am I charging X for?

Sometimes changing the approach of your marketing is enough.

Instead of saying “I prove the best website translation services” say “I provide website translation services that will increase your online visibility by 65%”.

Then your client will link your prices to the benefits that you’re offering and will value your work in a different way.

3. When your clients can’t actually afford your rates, but you’re interested in the assignment

This is normally the case of NGOs or business looking for volunteers or internship opportunities.

In these cases, employers can’t afford paying standard rates. However, you may be very interested in a particular project, maybe because you want to expand your experience in a particular field or maybe because it could be a good opportunity to get to know influential people in a particular field.

Well, in that case, you can negotiate the requirements of the assignment so that it doesn’t represent an obstacle for your daily workflow.

Maybe you can negotiate flexible working hours, or a flexible deadline, so you can work on this assignment in your spare time.

However, you should bear in mind that undertaking these opportunities will take you time that you can invest in promoting your business or working on another assignment for your standard rates. So be sure that what you’re going to get from it is worth it.

3 questions you should ask yourself to answer “you are too expensive” emails


  • Does your product provide the value for the price that you’re asking for? Why? How can you prove it?

And this should be the foundation of your pricing strategy. There should be a reason behind your prices and you should be able to justify your price at any time giving reasonable answer to convince your clients.

  • Does your marketing reflect this value?

Your marketing should reflect how expensive your products are.

I’m sure that when you see a luxury perfume ad on the TV you can recognise it straight away and you question the price of the brand. Am I wrong?

If your products are expensive, don’t be afraid to show that, but make sure that your prices go according to the value that you provide and not just because.

  • Is your marketing attracting the right people?

Every time that someone that isn’t a ICA contact you asking for a quote contact you, you should be asking yourself why and how this person contact you.

Are you using the wrong channels to reach your ICAs?

If you don’t position your brand correctly, you’ll end up spending too much money and time on your marketing to end up talking to people aren’t willing to pay your prices.


What about you? Have you ever get one of these “you are too expensive” emails? How did you answer them? I’d love to hear from you!

About David Miralles Perez

My name is David Miralles and I am aware of how languages can influence professional environments. Honing communication between two cultures has become crucial in today’s globalized world. And that is what I do by means of my translation and interpreting services. Small and medium enterprises and individuals can now spread their messages through cultural and linguistic barriers and make a big impact on an international scale.

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