Congratulations! A prospective client has been discussing with you a potential collaboration and they are seriously interested in working with you. Be careful of premature celebration though: now you have to navigate one of the most sensitive aspects of building a relationship with a client: negotiating a fair price for services rendered.
Many Adalo Experts are wanting a best practice for how to negotiate pricing. Before anything, negotiate in a way that you feel fits your own personality and style of professionalism. However, for those who are scratching their heads for where to start the Adalo Experts team has collected a few common-sense insights on negotiating fair payment for working with Adalo Expert clients collected from Adalo Experts themselves.
Note that this guide is focused on Experts who are building apps on Adalo for clients, however, these lessons also have merit for other product offerings like coaching or component design.
Reflect on what your skills are worth
An obvious starting point is to reflect with yourself what your skill set and monetary worth is. Clients may come to you asking for a piece of enterprise software that has a large budget associated with it, but may demand specialties outside of your skillset. This is not a good fit. Some clients may be asking for you to build a purely digital Tesla. If it’s not something that you feel confident you can build, then you should not take the client on. Finally, a client may ask you to rebuild AirBnB for a handful of coins. While this could be useful for beginner freelancers seeking to build their portfolio and profile (especially if the client is a potential super spreader like a high profile non-profit) Experts should value their time, be clear eyed about the low hourly earnings they will be paid, and should be unafraid to negotiate and walk away.
It’s better to search for new prospective clients where there is an obvious great fit, rather than trying to hope an unnatural fit will work.
Remember: word of mouth is the number one most cited source of new clients for Adalo Experts, so leaving clients feeling warm, fuzzy and wanting to share with their friends, family and colleagues the amazing experience they had with you is not just professional, it’s a strategic investment into your Adalo Expert future. You want to under promise and over deliver. Deliver delight.
Hourly versus project billing
Among Adalo Experts there is a debate on the merits and drawbacks between hourly billing and project billing. As Erik Goins from the Adalo Expert agency Flywheel says, “both have some pros and cons.”
Hourly billing has the merit, as Erik says, that “You don't have to scope out the project. Just track your hours and build.” This can be easy logistically for the Expert, yet gives ambiguity to the client who will have uncertainty if this project will be on budget. It’s not all blue skies for the Expert either, since hourly building doesn’t reward the Experts preparation. For example, if an Adalo Expert has gotten themselves organized with design libraries and templates that perhaps took one hundred hours to perfect, then it would be undervaluing the Experts’ work if they rapidly build an app for a client in a handful of hours that may have taken far more work if starting from scratch. As Erik reflects, hourly billing often “Doesn't highlight the value you bring. You don't get appreciation for your speed and past preparation.” These downsides could be upsides for new Adalo Experts.
On the other hand fixed price means right from the outset Adalo Experts and their clients know exactly what they are walking into regarding cost and profit. This can allow for a deep win/win, where an Expert may have prior work they can leverage, allowing them to offer a competitive price with a good profit. However, as Erik notes fixed price “Can bring risk. For example if you think a project will take four hours and then it takes eight hours. It's a risk for the Expert.” Fixed pricing can favor more established Experts, who have enough projects under their belt that they can leverage existing project assets while having experience at project scoping.
Note that doing a hybrid of hourly and fixed is quite common. For example building an app for a fixed price, then having the Expert be available after the fixed contract on an hourly basis for product revisions.
Good project scoping makes everyone happy
Let’s say that again: good project scoping makes everyone happy. As Adalo Expert Connor Cedro from Ordech states, "Nailing down the scope is number one. Feature by feature. Price per feature or time per feature. There should be no surprises for anyone.” Freelancing forums are full of stories of products that took an hour or two to build but took twenty hours of meetings and discussions that weren’t built into the freelancer's price, while many clients may expect a product that has functionality that they assumed the Expert would include but was never discussed. Miscommunication is a common cause of friction between Adalo Experts and their clients.
Good scoping creates a project road map and clear set of deliverables where, if structured correctly, leaves the Expert and the client clear on mutual expectations. Experts should research project scoping, it’s a skill that’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. But for a clean starting point an Expert might start with a template (example) that clearly stipulates breakdown of all the services that the are to be expected of the Expert. Scopes with clear deliverables are best, ideally in a checkbox style framework where it is obvious that when all the checkboxes have been completed a milestone has been reached and payment is due.
Be aware of mission creep. Apps need to be ideated, designed, built, quality assurance tested, released, iterated, marketed and analyzed. While it can be lucrative for the Expert to offer add-on services, if an Adalo Experts job is to build an app then the design should already be completed and the Expert should not be onboarding users. If a scope is already agreed and deliverables set then additional features should expand the scope and could increase the price. If a client is wanting to pay an Expert for a service outside of the Experts specialty, like for example wanting an Adalo Maker with little design experience to design the app, then the Expert should clearly communicate that design is outside of their skillset and that this part of the job could be better served by a different Expert. Remember again: under promise, over deliver.
Often clients want jobs to be completed in a very short time period, or with a high number of revisions, or having an extended maintenance period, etc. These are usually reasonable requests, but Experts should make sure that project scope and price is holistic of all client expectations.
Feeling intimidated and want a clear starting point for negotiation? Try inputting a client’s project specifications into Adalo’s app calculator to give you a ballpark on what a project should cost.
The art of the deal
Now you should be fairly confident on the price that you are needing for this project. You know what you are worth and have a clear scope that gives you an expectation of the amount of work involved. Your price should reflect your value multiplied by your time expectation of how long this project will take.
If you have scoped effectively and the client knows your price bracket, then there shouldn’t be sticker shock.
A great question to ask as early as possible, as Adalo Expert Shantanu Srivastava pointedly states, is “how much is your budget.” If you can create a scope of work that fits within the client’s budget, then the client will feel that their expectations have been respected. If the Expert can’t create a scope aligned with the clients budget then it may not be a good fit for the client or the Expert.
Clients often want to negotiate, much to the joy or frustration of the Adalo Expert. While taking a free online course on negotiation can be a very valuable use of the Expert’s time, a quick checklist to keep in mind when negotiating is the following:
- Don’t assume that you are negotiating over a fixed pie
- Use anchoring in developing a first offer strategy
- Avoid overconfidence when making negotiation decisions
- Frame the other side’s choices to your advantage
- Look beyond easily available information
- Look at all negotiations from the other side’s perspective
- Encourage reciprocity from the other side
- Use the contrast principle
- Don’t lose sight of the big picture
Remember once an Expert gets a client to a clean yes the Expert should stop talking! You’ve closed the deal, it’s now time to make a payment schedule, get a contract signed and get to work.