In my experience as a consultant and freelancer—trying out different ways of handling new client inquiries—asking for the budget is one of the ways to weed out those who aren’t serious yet about hiring you. I make the intake question required, though people have filled it out before without actually putting in a number. I don’t ask for an exact amount; a range is fine. What I really want to know is whether you put a little thought into what a project might cost you.

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