Price & Package Your Services
In this track our main task is to come up with rates for the services you want to offer. We’ll keep it simple and start with the 3 core services you identified earlier, but feel free to price all your services if you want.
Activity 1: Brainstorm prices for core services
Pricing is an area that most new writers and business owners struggle with, though even experienced writers and business owners will suddenly get asked for a service and have no idea how to price it. So let’s dive in.
First, some reading material. Here are several articles written by Dan Smith for Get Paid to Write Online. Some of the internal links are broken, so I’m posting the whole series here. It’s called How to Charge More than $10 an Article:
Start by thinking about the prices you’d like to charge for those three core services you identified earlier.
Over the next few days, we’ll break this down a bit and see if you’re really getting what you deserve.
Activity 2: How do you value your writing or services?
When you’re talking about setting rates for your services, there are a few things to take into account.
If you’re a writer, there’s the actual time you spend on each piece of writing.
- research time
- writing time
- misc tasks time (additional tasks like finding pictures, taking screenshots, writing SEO descriptions)
The truth is, you do more than you think you do, and it has value for your clients. Here’s my list for clients of 21 Things You Get When You Hire a Professional Writer.
And for business owners, whatever service you’re offering, there will be other tasks that help you do the final job – add those to your list.
But pricing your work is not just about the hours you spend. I saw a joke a while back where someone called a carpenter to fix a loose floorboard. He walked in, checked for a minute, then put a nail in. He then presented a bill for $100. When the client protested, he itemized the bill.
- Nail: $1
- Knowing where to put the nail: $99.
In other words, the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired have value for your clients. In many cases, they use your writing as part of a marketing plan to attract clients paying them thousands of dollars.
Here’s my take on focusing on value.
Think about the value you bring, and see if those rates you started with still look good to you.
Now answer these questions:
- What additional tasks do you do as part of a service or a writing job do you NOT take into account when pricing?
- What would your rate look like if you accounted for the time you spend on those tasks?
By the time you’ve done that, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to raise those rates.
Activity 3: Hourly rate or project rate?
Today’s question: should you set an hourly rate or a project rate?
Now, you should always know the minimum hourly rate you need to pay your bills, and meet all your commitments. A good tool to use to work out what you need to earn is Jenn Mattern’s freelance hourly rate calculator.
But that doesn’t mean your client needs to know that.
My tip: always charge a project rate. I believe you shouldn’t be penalized for being good at your job. In other words, if it takes you less time because you’re more experienced, you shouldn’t earn less. In fact, the more experience you have, the greater your earning potential.
When you set rates for a service, be sure you can articulate why you’re worth it. Remember that your services have a value to your potential clients, either in subject knowledge, industry experience, or the ability to create content that helps them win business. Look back at what clients have said about you in testimonials as a starting point for this.
And remember, sh*t happens, so make sure your project rate includes a buffer (10% or so) for unexpected overruns or last minute client requests.
- How do you currently charge for your services?
- Do you always feel you are earning the right amount?
Activity 4: How to price for something completely new
It happens to every writer and business owner – you get a last minute request to quote for a job you’ve never done. You know you can do it, but you’re not sure how to price it. There are a couple of ways to handle this.
First, you can wing it. Fall back on your target hourly rate and multiply by the hours a project normally takes you. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up getting well paid, but it could backfire if the project takes longer than you think.
Second, use the wisdom of the crowds or, in this case, the people who have already done this type of job and who post their rates online.
If you’re a writer, you can also use the AWAI price guide which is a free download on their site. Or you can use the pricing guidelines suggested by your industry association.
Today’s task: check the rates you started with. Adjust them if needed based on what we’ve covered this week.
Activity 5: How to raise your rates
We’re almost at the end. By now you should know who your clients are, what you’re offering, have a portfolio, and have some idea about rates.
One question people often ask is about raising their rates. I get that it can be scary, especially if you don’t yet have the confidence to charge what you’re worth. So today, I want to share a couple of strategies I’ve used for raising my rates.
- The end of year notice. When I started out, I’d send an email to all current clients in November, telling them my rate would be rising in January. I urged them to book before the rise. Believe it or not, nobody minded, and I got work to help me ride out a January slump.
- New price for new work. If someone has seen my prices, or even been referred by someone, that doesn’t tie me to that. As long as I can justify the value – there’s that word again – I can justify the price.
- Raise prices when you’re busy. If your work calendar is fairly full, there’s nothing to lose by adding on a few dollars to the next quote you make. As we know, scarcity creates demand. So if you’re too busy to take an immediate job, and you charge a little bit more, psychologically that means you must be good and worth waiting for. I’ve tested this a few times. Do that often enough and your current maximum could well become your minimum.
- Upsell – let clients know the additional services you offer and create a package. I haven’t been that good at doing this, but when it works, it works really well.
Here’s some reading on that from Listiller.
Remember, it’s important to focus on value when marketing your services.
Finally, I want to leave you with some inspiration. Lori Widmer used to run a Writer’s Worth Month on her blog, and there’s a bunch of great advice on valuing yourself. Here’s the category link as it’s worth going back and reading some of the older posts.