Negotiating Tips for Creatives: Are You Afraid to Ask for More?

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I was in the audience at SparkNYC last month when Ted Leonhardt, author of Nail It: Stories for Designers on Negotiating with Confidence, gave a talk for creatives. The first thing he told the group was how nervous he was.

I must admit, I cringed to hear that. If he doesn’t present himself as confident, why should I trust his advice?

But then he went on to explain that it was done very strategically and intentionally to create empathy in his audience. This is one of his negotiating tips for creatives.

“Creatives are different,” Leonhardt explained to me in our podcast interview. “We wear our hearts on our sleeves and we’re very connected to our work. That’s why they [the clients] hire us. Our work is part of our self-definition. So in a stressful situation, we’re more vulnerable to succumb to those feelings and as a result, we roll over, give in and just don’t ask for what we would like.


Besides, most negotiations creatives find themselves in are friendly, not combative. And if it’s not, it’s good to know this before you sign the contract.”

You may or may not agree with him, but I have also observed many of my own coaching clients who struggle with issues related to talking money, from not asking for a budget to taking the first offer an employer makes.

One thing I know for sure: if you just accept the first number thrown out, your employer or client will have less respect for you than if you get into a dialogue about it.

But many creatives are afraid to push back, stand up for what they need or ask for more, even if “more” means more time, more clarification, more access, more credit or any other non-monetary but valuable item.

What kinds of things should you be asking for? That’s one of the many topics I discussed with Ted… listen to the podcast now.


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