Negotiating for a fee or a raise is one of the most challenging issues for a creative person. We consider it a validation of our worth and we know that we want more of it and that hirers will always want to pay us less – that is the natural tension of the marketplace. But we are often at a loss as to how to talk about the value we place on our own talent. We never really know how much our efforts will be worth to the employer and indeed they are not probably thinking like that – their negotiator probably has a budget for you which may have nothing at all to do with what return they expect from your efforts.
You probably have a feeling – that you are worth half again what you have been making, or you twice that – but you have no real evidence and don’t even know how to talk about it. The problem is that for you it is personal. It is a measure of how much they like you. For the hirer it is how much they can or will afford.
For you to be effective at the negotiation, it should be removed as much as possible from the realm of the personal. There are a number of tactics that can help. Having all your eggs in one basket is not a strong position – so work hard to give yourself some other possibilities so that it is easier to walk away – or better yet create a bidding situation. This is after all the tried and true method of the souk and bazaar. It’s how I bought my first house – I got up from the table and headed for the door – to be called back with acceptance of the offer I had made.
Be clear – at least with yourself – about the number you’d like to hit. The number you present or counter with should be a clear number – not a fluffy range but a confidently presented number that sounds like it means something and is not just a kinda-would-like-to-have, that you have pulled out of thin air.
But now I would like to refer you to a very nice little book on exactly this topic. Called Nail It, Stories for Designers on Negotiating with Confidence, it’s a collection of real life examples collected by Ted Leonhart. You will find inspiration and confidence in these true stories. I recommend it.