Cart 0

[Podcast HOWLive Ep. 35] What it Takes to Negotiate with Confidence

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Photo by Michael e. Stern of

Photo by Michael e. Stern of

I recently figured out why so many creative professionals don’t have contracts with their clients and other collaborators.

Because they avoid “the contract conversation” (a.k.a. negotiating)!

No negotiation, no contract!

This realization came out of my latest podcast with veteran creative professional and construction time-lapse filmmaker, Michael e. Stern.

That day, he happened to be right in the middle of a big negotiation with an unnamed multibillion dollar company, so he could speak literally from experience.

But our conversation goes beyond negotiating tips into:

  • how (and why you must!) price your services in a way that earns the respect of the big clients you are pursuing
  • how to develop the strength and self respect that prevents you from ignoring the red flags clients wave in front of you
  • how not to give in to a client that won’t sign a contract or pay a deposit

You’ll hear all of that in Michael’s words, but also in the sound of his voice.

More resources:





Blog post


I love his idea about submitting a proposal without pricing first.

This is a good strategy when what you’re proposal is complex and you need to find out what they’re after. Most have no idea what the work is all about, what’s involved, how complex it is.


A client lands on your site, doesn’t really read it, pick up the phone or send an email and expect you to submit a proposal or spit a number out within the first minute, without answering the important questions or giving you the information you need to come up with that number.


“They’re the client; they’re not supposed to be smart.”


Be sure to warn them, tell them ahead of time – this keeps the conversation going. Is the scope right? If so, I’ll start working on the budget.


What you want is to keep the conversation going. This is a good way to do it. “Anything you can do to extend the conversation…”


Submit numbers that earn their respect.

But if you’re in that haze of desperation, you won’t be able to see them clearly. What may be a huge number for you may be very low for them. You have to step out of your own little bubble and into the bigger bubble.




  • More in: Freelancing, Michael E. Stern, negotiate with confidence, negotiating, Posts by Ilise, Pricing, time-lapse photography

  • Share this post

    We also recommend for you...

    ← Older Post Newer Post →