I came across an article from webdesignerdepot.com titled “6 steps to charging what you’re really worth.” I really related to the article because I have come to similar conclusions about what I’m worth and how to conduct myself in a business environment. While the article does a great job describing each of the six points, I decided not to read them (until I finished writing this article) and give my own perspective of the six steps. So, make sure you go back and read what they have to say too! Here’s the six steps that they go through:
Focus On Value Not Hours
I’ve always had a problem with charging people what I’m worth. I remember years ago filling out a form (that one’s not the one I used, but I couldn’t find itto see what I should be charging clients per hour (as a freelancer) and the number was outrageous (at least at the time.) After I actually started working for myself I realized why that number was so big (and it’s actually gone up since then.) I’ve given proposals to clients and found out that I low-balled it. In my mind I just thought I was charging them what I was worth, per hour…but then I started thinking…
If you decide to invent something awesome that everyone wants, like sliced bread or the mousetrap, does that mean that you shouldn’t make money off that product after you ‘feel’ like you’ve gotten back what you put into it? Absolutely not! It was your idea, your investment and your time! Now think about going to college and graduating. You go to college for an education in your field. You also go to college so that you can make more money because you have that ‘higher‘ education. Does that mean that you should take a pay-cut after you’ve paid back your student loans (and then some?) Absolutely not! The same applies for your business. You’re charging someone based on your skill level, problem-solving skills and knowledge. That should determine what you charge per hour, not just charging based on how much money you need to pay your rent.
Probe For Serious Pain Points
Often times, there can be one part of a proposal that can take half of the time of the whole project. If you don’t ask a lot of questions in the beginning you may get stuck going back to ask for more money…or even worse, spending the time (or money) on it yourself. When I’m talking to a potential client about a website for the first time, I get a lot of information. Why? Well, there’s really two reasons:
I Want To Get A Mental Visualization Of The Work To Be Done
When you present your proposal you want to impress your potential client with your knowledge, listening skills and your skill set. If you’re not paying attention and don’t ask a lot of questions about what the client wants then you will not be able to present them with a logical, reasonable solution. You also want to ask a lot of questions about what exactly their looking to accomplish. With both differences the addition of one element to ‘the job’ can be hours of extra work. If you don’t ask those questions up front then you will run into problems later.
I’m the Professional
Just like any profession, you should be the master of your domain! That means that you have the skill set to navigate through any situation (in your industry) and problem solve it. When someone tells me they want a donation form on their website, I know exactly what the options are and how much time each option will take. This helps me to determine how much to charge them. This is important to your potential clients because you let them know that you know what you’re doing!
Position Your Services As An Investment, Not An Expense
To me, this point is simply ‘Sales 101‘ rather than how you might position yourself. Usually when you’re selling something you’re either offering to save them time, or to (potentially) make them money. That’s where the ‘investment‘ part comes in. An investment is something that will pay off in dividends…at least eventually. When you present your proposal with the solutions that your potential client wants then you actually are offering them an investment rather than an expense.
Don’t Present Your Pricing Upfront
This ‘step‘ can be difficult if you’re dealing with a Type-A personality that just wants to know what it’s going to cost them. When I get asked about price a lot, I explain that I need to gather information about then (see “Probe For Serious Pain Points.“) If someone insists I give them a ’roundabout’ number I usually widen the gap of my guestimate.
Another great reason you should never present your pricing up-front is because you might be waaaayyyy off. This can potentially mean that you can lose the sale. How can you give a proper estimate of price if you don’t know what your client needs or wants!
Offer Clients More Than One Option
This is usually a must. When I worked for the radio station we always gave options. One higher, one lower and one right in the middle. It’s like porridge! It’s often hard to get an honest ‘price range’ from a client, and they usually go lower than what they can actually spend. What clients often don’t realize is that you get what you pay for. That’s why you go a little lower and a little higher.
Another solution I often do is add a section of ‘Additional (Optional) Services‘ to my proposals. This is a more casual way to give clients more than one option. Optional Services for the web design I do, it often includes monthly up-keep services, social media packages or ‘additional’ SEO work.
I also, as a general warning, put the following on all my proposal so the client knows exactly what the scope of work is:
*Be aware that the proposal below is based on the information provided. I Heart Blank, LLC is responsible only for the information below. If there is there is something missing please contact us as the price may change.
Focus On ‘Good’ Clients
This might be one of the most important points. When I first started my business I ran into the problem of needing to pay rent. Yeah, it’s a hell of a thing. I would take on any job I could find so that I could…live! Some of my clients in the beginning were…a little difficult to deal with.
I would have great ‘business conversations‘ with one of my ‘mentors’ asking people if I should even take on these clients. He brought up an excellent point. That if someone was being difficult to work with then they’re actually costing you money. If you’re working for pennies and a client is driving you crazy, then they’re actually taking money out of your pocket! How? The simple answer is that the time your wasting on them could be spent finding ‘quality’ clients that both pay you what you’re worth and also don’t waste your time. Make sense? Don’t take that ‘bad’ client and spend the time you would be working for them, finding a ‘good’ client!
I do understand that many businesses go through tough times when they do need to take on the ‘less than favorable’ clients, but my main point is that you should be working towards only having good clients. Every time you get a good client you should be filtering out one bad one. Eventually, what you’re hoping for, is that your reputation precedes you and you’ll only have time to take on quality clients.
You’re worth it and you should believe in yourself. If you need some more motivation; read this article again!