How To Negotiate Your Salary: 6 Phrases To Use

I used to hate talking about money. But when I started my own business, I had to learn to how to ask for more money and the exact phrases to use when I was negotiating.

Over the past year, I’ve landed 5-figure contracts and contracts with Fortune 500 companies.

It’s not smooth talking or even confidence, it’s a formula. Often, it just starts with a simple thank you + no + but.

Negotiation formula drawing thank you + no + but with arrows pointing to examples.
The method to my pricing madness.

Acknowledge the offer. Politely decline it. And offer a new solution.

It’s a method I’ve been using for the last 2 years, and my prices have consistently increased with it.

Most of us know we need to negotiate, but how do we actually negotiate salaries or wages? How do we ask for more money from a prospective client or customer?

Over time, I found key phrases that helped me to increase my pricing with clients.

So I made them into a list of negotiation phrases. If you’re not sure what to say or you’re afraid you’ll be too flustered when the time comes, write these down. Insert your prices and use them as a script.

And no matter what you say, remember the golden rule of negotiating: Always, ALWAYS, ask for more money. 

6 phrases on how to negotiate salaries or wages:

*Note: I wrote this geared towards copywriters, but these phrases are universal. Use them with your own customers if you’re a business owner, with job offers from hiring managers or with clients in whatever industry you’re in.

“Thank you for the offer, but my usual rate is closer to $X. How can we find a number that works for both of us?”

My negotiation formula in action!

This statement shows two important things:

  1. That you’re still interested and
  2. This is a conversation between both of you.

There’s no reason to get defensive, everyone involved in this discussion is trying to make or save more money. It’s a give and take, and their offer was a jumping off point.

Remember: A negotiation is always a collaboration, not an argument. This keeps things positive and friendly.

“At that price point, I wouldn’t be able to offer what we originally discussed. Here’s what I can offer instead:”

This usually comes later in the conversation. Maybe they don’t have the budget to pay more, but you still have something to offer for a lesser value.

For example, someone wants to re-write their website. But they’re a solopreneur just starting out and they can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars to hire a copywriter.

For these clients, I offer a DIY option: strategy sessions. For a set hourly fee, they get me on a zoom call where we review the in’s and out’s of their website. I make real time suggestions on the call and we brainstorm solutions. Then, they take this information and write their own website.

They might not get the same level as someone writing their site professionally, but it will be better than if they had done it on their own.

An added bonus to this? If and when their business blows up and they need to hire a copywriter, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be first on their list.

“For what you’re asking, I would charge closer to $X. This might not be a good fit.”

Sometimes the price is too low. If they are starting at 1/10 of the price you expect, this partnership probably won’t work out. Even if they do come up to the number you want, you might have to deal with slow payments or unreasonable expectations. In my experience, people who low ball tend to be crappy clients long term.

Respect it, and know when to walk away. 

“What budget did you have in mind for this work?”

The old switch-a-roo. If a client or hiring manager asks you how much you charge or your salary requirements, flip it.

Ask them. This is their job and they know how much they want to spend. 

If you spit out a number under pressure, at least make sure it’s a high one.

“What are your expectations for this price point?” 

This is a clarifying question. What exactly do they think that amount of money can buy? 

Some clients need a bit of a reality check when it comes to their numbers. Maybe they don’t even know what a copywriter is or how much it costs to hire a copywriter in this day and age, so tell them.

You can spend $X, but this is what that gets you. Get real clear on what they want from you before coming to terms on a price.

“I normally charge $X for each page/post/article. For 20 pages at that rate, the price would be $Y. However I’d be happy to charge $Z since this is a larger project.”

This is a line I use for larger clients who are asking for more deliverables. They often don’t need much convincing and are too busy to have lengthy conversations, so I just break down the math for them. 

It’s a play on a buy more get more model, but I find that it’s one of the clearest ways to explain a rate for larger projects.

That sums it up! Stand your ground, my writing and business ninjas. You are worth every penny.

I’d love to hear from you, what lines have you used to land your favorite clients or jobs? How much more money have you secured just by asking for it?

Drop a note in the comments and let me know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *