In today's episode, Louise reveals the one piece of advice she really dislikes when it comes to pricing your freelance services. Can you guess what it is?
Listen up for Louise's step-by-step pricing process and three questions to consider when figuring your own pricing strategy, so you can sell your services without feeling awkward about the money question.
Louise Shanahan is a freelance health copywriter and content marketer. She's on a mission to help others build a business and life they love – in weekly snack-sized bites.
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LinkedIn: Louise Shanahan
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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host, Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind the scenes stories, and nuggets o' wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help me navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So, grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe!
Hello and welcome to episode 4 of 15 Minute Freelancer. How are you? As always, thank you for joining me.
In the last episode, I talked about how to find perfect-fit freelance clients. I know there was a lot of info in there about figuring out who your ideal clients are, where they are, the services they might need, figuring out pricing and so on, so do let me know if you have questions about any particular steps in that process. It was really an intro to the idea of figuring out how to match your services to the clients who need them in a way that works for you both. It’s a big topic! Let me know on Twitter which parts you might have more questions about.
Today I want to look at the pricing part of that process. Specifically, I want to talk about a piece of advice that always pops up whenever freelancers are talking about pricing their services, that I actually really dislike. It gives me the no feeling.
And that message is:
Charge your worth.
Honestly, I think this is terrible advice!
I know, you might not expect me to say that. "Louise, why wouldn’t you want to charge your worth? Are you gonna charge LESS than your worth?" Well no, of course not. But my problem is – what does it actually mean? What ARE you worth?!
It’s too personal. It’s vague, and it’s not always realistic. I think you’re all worth millions! But good luck putting that on your pricing page.
I think ‘charge your worth’ is a mindset message rather than a strategy. It’s about getting over the idea that you should feel awkward about selling. We all have stories about money that we’ve grown up with – maybe deep down you feel that you only deserve money if you’ve worked hard, that it has to be earned, that money should be hard to come by, that people who have lots of money are greedy and horrible. Maybe there’s an idea that freelancers, especially creative freelancers, should do the work out of love and passion rather than for money. I don’t know. So the ‘charge your worth’ message is really saying ‘don’t undersell yourself’. ‘Be confident in your prices’. ‘Don’t feel bad for asking for proper compensation for your work.’ ‘Examine your money mindset.’
Your personal worth is not tied to your work.
But it only gets us so far: ok, don’t undersell. But then what? How do we actually figure out a number we can put on our pricing page?
What we CAN do is value the WORK that we do. The effort we put in. The expertise and experience. The results our work gets for clients.
Some clients might not agree with the price you put on that value, or might not have the budget. That's fine. It's not personal. That’s where finding the service-market fit that I talked about in the last episode comes in. Not every client is for you.
Instead of thinking about charging your worth – we need to aim to charge an amount that reflects what our WORK is worth to our CLIENTS.
I promise you, plenty of clients are willing and eager to pay what your work is worth to them.
How do we do this?
Three things I’ve been thinking about:
- First - Understand the value you bring to your clients’ business/life
Sometimes we forget to think about what we’re really offering our clients. I know someone who is a property concierge. He does maintenance type work for people who are too busy to do it themselves. You might think WHAT – people pay hundreds of quid a month just to have someone change a lightbulb for them? But actually, they’re paying for peace of mind, knowing that someone will deal with building hassles, liaise with trades people for them, save them energy, time and brain space. Now that’s obviously not something everyone would or could pay for. But what matters is the framing of that value to the ideal client.
I have had family and friends raise an eyebrow at what copywriters get paid to write blog posts, for example. But I’m not just sitting down to bang out 600 words to fill a page, that anyone else could do if only they had the time. There’s a lot of research, skill and strategy that goes into it. For the client, they’re not just getting words on a page, they’re getting an asset that can position them as an authority in their industry, they’re building trust with their audience, they’re building a community of engaged leads and customers. And yes, it’s also saving them the time, energy and stress of trying to write it themselves. Ok sales pitch over!
Ask yourself, what value does your work bring to your clients’ business/life? Do you believe your work is worth your current rates? Do you believe your work makes your client’s life easier in some way? How? Do you know what results your work gets for clients? What would they do without you?
As I say, we have to be realistic. If you’re just starting out, maybe you can’t charge the same prices as more experienced freelancers yet. Maybe you need to prove yourself, build credibility and demand, and figure out the value you bring. That might sound a bit harsh, but it’s just how it is. It’s a process and you can raise your rates quickly as the value you bring increases.
So think about what your work means to your clients. When you can articulate the value you add, you’ll feel much more confident about charging more.
- Second - Understand what makes you different from competitors
What’s your USP? What’s different about your background, your experience, your specialist skills, your process that differentiates you from everyone else. I don’t think about other freelancers as ‘the competition’ – because clients are hiring us as individuals. If someone chooses to work with you instead of me, then I guess I wasn’t the right fit. I mean, I might think they’re wrong! But I want people to want to work with ME.
That said, when it comes to pricing, you need to understand WHY they would choose you. If your processes are more in-depth or slicker than others that do what you do – factor that in. If you have qualifications or experience that others don’t have – factor that in. If it’s your personality or personal values that make you different – factor that in. Show clients why your work is worth your rates and why they should hire you.
And if you’re not sure about what makes you stand out – just ask your current and previous clients. Why did they hire you? What made them choose you? Might not be what you expect. You can use that to inform the way you position your pricing to future clients.
- Third - Understand what the market can bear
Again, we’ve got to be realistic. The advice to charge what your worth is useless if you think your work is worth tens of thousands of pounds and your target market includes people who boak at the idea of paying for pro Zoom.
As a rule, bigger businesses have bigger budgets. But their expectations may be different too. That might involve working with a big team, whereas you may prefer to work one on one – working with solo business owners may mean a more modest price point. Don’t have to undercharge, but maybe not charging thousands of pounds a day. Just got to be realistic and find the right balance for you.
Then, you can get practical and start to figure out the actual numbers.
People do this in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to price your services.
You might consider
- how much you want to make each year/quarter
- how many days a week you want to work
- the type of projects you want to work on – shorter ad hoc projects or longer contracts
Divide the number of hours/days you want to work by the number of projects or hours you want to do, and get a benchmark day rate. Then you can use that to create a rate per project.
Consider what others are charging and see where you sit alongside that – does it feel right?
Consider how you feel about saying those rates out loud. It should be a wee bit scary! An amount that doesn’t feel like you’re taking the piss, but that makes you excited to get started.
Make sure you factor in your costs/overheads (don’t forget all the time you spend doing non-client facing work, such as admin, marketing and finance).
Now, I prefer to price by project rather than by day rate most of the time, but you can have a day rate in mind to help you figure out the overall rate. It’s up to you.
Hopefully after all that – you have a price that reflects what your work is worth to you AND your client. Happy days!
And you can be flexible if you want. Sometimes you might charge less and that’s fine. I sometimes do this with charities, or I might give a discount to clients who want to pay a whole year’s retainer up front. You don’t have to offer discounts, but if you want to that’s up to you. Just something to consider.
So, your 15-minute task for this week is to look at your pricing and really ask yourself if it feels right. Do your prices reflect the value you bring to your clients? Are your selling yourself short? Can you articulate what makes you different, and why clients should choose you? Do you feel like your rates are realistic, but still make you feel excited?!
This is all based on my experience. Some industries may do it differently. You may have more specific costs to factor in. But my main message for your today is to realise how much your work is valued by your clients, and be confident in setting rates that reflect that.
Ok! that’s all for today. I would be so grateful if you could subscribe, leave a review, or share with a freelance friend if you found this helpful. And if you have any questions or comments, find me on Twitter - @louiseShanahan_ and let me know. Thanks for listening and see you next time!
You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me, Louise Shanahan, freelance health copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want answered on the podcast find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing!