I dug this email exchange out from my archives years ago; it illustrates a great point to keep in mind in negotiating with a company or agency that's feeding you work. This is personally a pet-peeve of mine, and in speaking to other hiring agents, I know it's one of there's as well.
Here's what I sent out to a freelancer:
Right now I do have a logo project I am working on, which I think might be right up your alley. If you’re interested in doing a little extra work I’d be happy to send it your way, the budget is $XXX, would you be interested?"
Lisa's response, "I'm interested! Thanks for thinking of me Jeremy. The budget is very low. I usually charge about $1500 for a logo with 7 options for client review, but let me hear what the details are and we can talk."
Lisa walks a fine line here telling me how much she normally charges, as a hiring company or agency I don't care how much she charges, in fact, I find it almost insulting that she feels she needs to tell me. After all, if she was able to get clients to pay $1500 for a logo, why does she need to work with me another other hiring companies/agencies? If you try this approach you may find that you bidded yourself right out of a project - not a good idea if you need work.
As an interesting final point, I found it funny that even though Lisa tells me that the project is way under budget, she's interested and willing to talk to me about it - odd.
Lisa, and a lot of freelancers forget that when they work with a company that feeds them work, they aren't paying for any marketing or sales costs, and they aren't investing any time or energy either - they're essentially getting work delivered to them on a silver platter, so what they normally receive in terms of revenue is not only immaterial, it's inaccurate.
I know this all may sound harsh, but if you're sub-contracting I want you to be able to see things from the other perspective so you can make better decisions.
If you feel what you're receiving isn't fair, you have the following options:
- Indicate the rate is a little low, formally pass on the project but stick with the company or agency.
- Focus your time and energy on bringing on your own clients, so you don't have to pay someone else.
- Walk...decide to work with someone else.
Personally, I suggest option 2 - it's the only one that you'll make any money. If you think you're going to become rich or charge full-rate as a sub-contractor, you're in for a rude surprise. The freelancers who make the most are the ones that know how to bring on and manage clients. Sub-contracting isn't a bad idea when work is slow, but something you don't want to do on a consistent basis.
If you're not finding business out there, maybe it's not because you're not talented or there isn't any business to be found...maybe it's that you were never taught how to effectively market and sell your services. I certainly can offer help in this area, and there are other business mentors out there that can help as well.
No one ever got rich off of sub-contracting...you have to develop your own clients.