To make a good living from writing, you must (must MUST) charge a rate that you can live on. Years ago, when I first started freelance writing, I routinely accepted jobs for just one or two cents per word. I had a full-time job that paid handsomely, I was just happy to be paid to write, and I didn't know better. Now, I wouldn’t dream of writing for such a wage and you shouldn’t either, even if you’re not totally dependent on your writing income.
Don’t be desperate enough to accept anything.
You might be tempted to accept a lower rate if you’re short on work and you need money quickly. Knowing that type of situation makes you vulnerable, try to avoid reaching the point of financial desperation. Market your writing services even when you don’t need to and money set aside during your good months to fill in future income gaps. Slumps are often a good time to work on your own projects.
Don’t let clients bully you into a lower rate.
Clients may try to negotiate lower rates by quoting a price from another freelance writer. “Don’t you think $450 is a little steep? I have an offer from someone who’d accept $45 for this project.” I always find it amusing when these clients try to haggle instead of just taking the lower rate offer. There must be a reason they haven't hired the other writer - perhaps because they realize the end-product may lack quality?
Try to work within the client’s budget.
If you’re truly interested in a project, leave room for negotiations. Clients may walk away when they receive a quote outside their budget if they don't realize you're willing to work with them. Let the client know that you can better accommodate their budget if you know what they’re willing to spend. For example, the client may want 20 articles but only has $500 to spend. Instead of lowering your rate, you could offer the client 10 articles for $500, for example, if your rate is $50 per article.
Make sure your rates make sense.
When your rates make sense to you, you’ll have an easier time explaining them to potential clients. Experience, education, credentials, and attention to detail are all reasons why you charge what you do. Helping your client understand this may encourage them to hire you for your rate. If clients aren't willing to pay your rates, it's a sign that you've either priced too high or targeting the wrong customers.
Know when to walk away.
Sometimes I have a hard time turning down projects; I guess it's the Samaritan in me. But, it’s ok to turn down a project especially if it’s going to cost you, but don’t do it prematurely. Make sure you’ve taken time to understand what the client is looking for and confirmed you can’t work within their budget. It doesn’t hurt to follow up in a few weeks to be sure the client’s needs have been met. There’s a chance they went the cheaper route, were unsatisfied, and are now willing to pay your rate.
How do you handle clients who want you to change your rates?