How to Get Your Freelance Clients to Talk About Their Budget

Plain and simple – you can’t do business without talking about money.  If you don’t initiate the topic of a budget for the project, you risk coming off as amateurish and may leave the impression that you can’t be taken seriously. If your clients are hiring you as a professional, obviously they should have a vague number in mind as to how much they would like to spend on the project. Talking about a budget might make you uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page. It gets easier with practice, and you’ll find that when you begin working with higher quality clients, it will become a lot less stressful to discuss financial requirements. 

Talking About Money is Necessary

Talking about a clients budget doesn’t have to be confrontational. If your client has a budget in mind, they should be happy to tell you how much they would like to spend. Talking about money should be one of the clearest planes to speak on because there are no blurry lines when it comes to hard numbers. Your clients either have the money, or they don’t.

Assess Their Needs

Ideally, clients will know how much your services generally cost. Talking about money with these clients should be relatively easy because they are familiar with how the process works, how to accommodate budgets and are accustomed to investing in designers. These are your most desirable clients, and dealing with them makes talking about money a breeze.

Many times, your clients might have a general idea, but you have no idea if they can afford it or not. Asking about a clients budget will immediately confirm whether or not you are wasting your time. If your client has $500 stuck in their mind, you need to be on the same page. You can then assess if you can help them out within their budget, or move onto other clients who are have appropriate budgets. 

  • Get as much information as you can about the project. The more details you have, the better you can estimate how long it will take and how much it will cost. Some websites can range from $1,000 to $20,000 in price because of complexity and the clients needs. Money should be a priority, but you need information first so you don’t have to give an estimate based on assumptions.
  • If the main purpose of a client getting in touch with you is to get your rates, this should throw up a red flag. If money is a big issue, they will bring up cost without much conversation beforehand. This could also mean they are price-shopping around with many other designers and will simply pick the designer that gives them the lowest rate.  

For example, you could say something like:

“I just want to make sure we are on the same page with your budget before we get ahead of ourselves. A typical website can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000. Is this within your budget?”

You should be able to tell right away if these were the types of numbers they were expecting. If they don’t have the budget, conversation usually dies pretty quickly. 

When They Won’t Give You a Budget

No Idea

You will get some clients who have absolutely no idea how much a website costs. For these clients, give them a range (like above) for different types of websites. “This will cost X, this will cost Y and this will cost Z. How much are you willing to spend?”Again, clients will usually have a budget, even if they don’t realize it and once they see numbers in front of them, it will be easier for them to determine a solid number. 

Ask What They Spent Last Time

If your client is redesigning, ask them what they spend on their last website. They might be more inclined to talk about what they spent on the previous project and their expectations going into this project in regards to budget. 

They Insist on Knowing Your Cost Upfront

Some clients will be stubborn about giving you a number before you do. These clients most likely have a budget in mind, but if you lowball them a cheaper deal, they will go with that number. If they say things like: “Just give me an estimate”,“Tell me your hourly rate and how many hours this will take” or “Why do you need my budget? I just want to know how much it costs,” be persistent that they give you more details. Tell them you produce results that are tailored to your clients needs and the cost of a website can range from one to the next.