This question comes up way more often than it probably should in my industry. Almost every day, someone asks me “How much should you charge for your services?” And my answer is becoming more and more often the same thing…
“Take your most expensive product or service and DOUBLE the price. You’ll get rid of the lookie loos,
you’ll have your “pain in the butt” clients drop out and the ones left over won’t blink at the price.”
I frequently wish I’d take his advice more seriously.
When I do the work or consulting for a lower price than I should be doing it, the customer does one of two things… They either take advantage of my generosity, or they complain incessantly about the price.
When I follow Alex Mandossian’s advice, charge double the price, I get several much better things:
- customers that appreciate the effort I put in on their projects.
- satisfaction from the beginning, because the customer believes their project is worth paying for.
- payment right away, without any delays, and no excuses.
- repeat services. ALWAYS referrals and repeat callbacks to do more work for the customer.
- always, these customers add tips or bonuses to the payment.
And it makes you want to work for them more often, when they compliment your work, don’t haggle over the price, and appreciate what you’ve done for them.
Discussion of Service Prices
There were many views of pricing services in the discussion, one lady said, “Oh so true. We set the price low and then resent it like it’s the clients fault for taking it! I swear I won’t do it again, and then a good cause comes along…”
Another gentleman offered, ” I find it interesting some ask, “Do you have a sponsorship package?” Well, how about commission, sell some packages to some friends and I’ll let you in?” Most balk at even that idea.”
A woman suggested, “Turning this sideways, I think it’s a question I might ask myself before setting a price “how much service and time do I feel I must give to be worth the fee I’m asking.””
And there it was…
How much service and time do I feel I must give
to be worth the fee I’m asking?
Oh the struggle…
In a recent stretch of time, I had several jobs stacked up to complete. I was working extra weekend hours to complete the jobs, and the project had become a veritable nightmare… Not all the pieces were there, and I had reconfigured the process a time or two to get it done, satisfied that at least I’d charged full price for the job. I was at the very least being PAID for the extra work I was doing.
Mid job, I was interrupted by a friend who wanted advice about her business. Conversation while working is not a bad thing. I often work graphics when in a remote discussion. It’s easy to do with double monitors. So, I was randomly answering her questions.
An hour or so into the discussion, I realized we’ve had this discussion before, and mentioned that fact to her. She pulled her usual response that she knew all this stuff, but had trouble doing it. (I refer you to the my response to Alex Mandossian’s quote above… We’ve all been there, even me.) The lessons are hard to learn, even over and over again.
She’d hired me to write an article a few days earlier, and I wrote it. It was posted. And the traffic pattern on the article, including content, comments, and remarks had been good at that point…
Mid afternoon, as I was preparing to take a break from the graphics and go grab some lunch, she asked me to work on her front page content. I grabbed a protein bar, a bottle of water, and returned to my desk. The content created over the next hour and a half was el primo.
There’s never been a secret that I write most effectively, and get the best results from writing completed under pressure. I finished the writing, went back to review it, and found ONE misspelled word. ONE. There were a few incomplete sentences within the structure of the article, but they were intentionally incomplete and purposeful. I left them.
When I told her the page was done, she said, “Send me an invoice.”
Normal copy for a sales page is quite a lot more expensive, but I charged for an HOUR. One hour of writing time. Even though I’d spent more than an hour on the project, and quite a few hours interactively discussing her business. I still only charged her for an hour, after she’d said, “Send me an invoice.”
When Hell Rains Fire and Ice
So, after she got the billing… the one she requested I send… I guess she thought about it. She went in and edited all the value out of the update. She took out the keywords, the structure, removed the sub-headers and clarity of the content, and then started shooting me messages.
She went back to the post she’d asked me to write and started nit picking it. Then she sent me the message that finished off the discussion.
“Jan, I thought we were friends.”
Where is it that people get the idea that “if you’re my friend, you should give me everything you know for free. You should never charge me for your services, for your consulting, for your time. And you should always do everything I ask you to do – EVEN if I make unreasonable demands on your time.” Where does that idea come from?
Quite honestly, I’m a generous person, and I’ll always give you way more than you pay for. It’s just who I am… I will ALWAYS give you more.
But there’s a really dark line in the sand when you start demanding that I give you what you want, and then start telling me how to do my job. You don’t get to tell me how to do my job. And you don’t get to walk all over me when I’ve given you way more than you paid for, and even in many cases… More than I should have ever given you.
Don’t cross the line.
Setting boundaries is often difficult. When the boundary you’re setting is with a client who is paying you for your efforts on their behalf, you may believe they’re paying for it, so you give them what they ask for… In part, this is true.
By-in-large, there’s a bigger factor at play.
The customer hired you to do what YOU do, because they couldn’t, or didn’t want to do it. You meet the requirements of the contract, as per whatever your agreement is, but there’s another measure that you need to consider as well. They hired you by contract. This is YOUR business.
When clients demand more than they pay for, or make demands that are not part of your program, it’s time to strengthen your boundaries and set limits they can’t stretch.
Resenting yourself for giving the client more than was promised, or more than they’ve paid for, isn’t part of the game plan. And ultimately it takes away from your value.
Don’t allow yourself to be devalued.
“We’ve all been in a position of taking less than we thought we were worth because we wanted the client. Invariably, we end up resenting ourselves or the client for giving away more of ourselves than we really wanted.” ~Joel Comm
Set your price. Be happy with it. Some will buy, some won’t.
At the end of the day, you’ll probably be happier being paid more than less, and you’re worth it. Don’t sell yourself short. Take the high road, charge the higher price, and let go of those who imply they can get your services cheaper somewhere else. Fact is, they probably can hire someone to do what you do for less… But those good folks know what their work is worth!