“But we go way back! Can’t you give me a little discount?”
We’re going to address the very big elephant in the room. Mixing friendship with business. Establishing boundaries. “Mates Rates”. That really grey area that no one really seems to talk about, or tries to shove back under the carpet any time it resurfaces.
You may feel like creating something for your friends out of kindness, as a gesture, a gift or otherwise – which is totally fine. The problem becomes when these ‘friends’ stop appreciating, and start expecting you to give them things for free or at discounted rates on account of them being your friend. This can be quite a sensitive area and a tricky thing to deal with – but let’s tackle this and make some sense of it.
Your true friends will respect your craft.
You just so happen to provide a service that your friend needs. Your friend can see how talented you are, and wants to acquire your services. You feel funny about sending them a quote because...mates.
(Stay with me here)
You find yourself offering to do it for half the price you normally would, or even for free – as you worry that charging them full price (or at all) will impede your friendship in some way. You undervalue the work you’re capable of because it’s for your friend.
The bottom line is – your true friends will support you by paying the same rate as everyone else. They will respect you enough to want to compensate you justly for your craft and not expect preferential treatment. You’re putting the same amount of time into the work you’re doing for them as anyone else, so why are they expecting you to quote them half the price?
Setting rates and sticking to them, choosing to ignore any pressure from your friends to reduce rates for them specifically will set the tone and establish a clear boundary that needs to be respected and not crossed.
If it so happens that your friend believes your rates are too high and doesn’t have the means (or doesn’t want to) pay for your services – this is completely fine! If you are open to negotiations, go for it (as long as you are open to negotiating with other clients also).
As I say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with gifting or doing favours for your nearest and dearest – but draw the line when that kindness is taken advantage of. Don’t undercut yourself to hold onto friends who expect you use your time, energy and resources to give them what they want, with no regard, respect or consideration for your needs.
What are your thoughts on mates rates?