The Danger of Underbidding Freelance

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In the early 1980s, a studio owner came to me and said, he had a guy on the phone who needed a recording engineer for some demos, he didn’t have much money, but I could talk to him if I wanted to. He put me on the phone with him, and everything was going well until he asked for my rate. I thought, it’s just demos, he doesn’t have much money, and I could use the job, so I quoted a low rate. As soon as I gave him my price the conversation changed. I felt it. I lost the job because of my low bid. He didn’t say it, but I knew what he thought; anyone who would work that cheap probably isn’t very good.

The lesson was clear; people judge quality by how much they pay. From then on, I quoted the highest rate engineers were charging at the time. Then I added, if I’m not busy, I might be able to work something out for you. I was surprised that most of the time, they paid my rate, and my career ratcheted up.