Do you want to know the thinking behind how I came to charge for my services?
It's been years of trial and error and what seemed like fumbling around in the dark for the most part. I never went to business school or graphic school (I actually dropped out of university) so I had no one to program my brain as to what to charge from the start (thankfully). I feel that I came into the game open minded and ready just to 'have a go'.
The major thought I'd like to convey prior to any specifics is this:
Something is only worth, what someone is willing to pay for it.
If you've ever sold a car, you know that your car has a 'market value'. For example your model of car may be selling between $8000 - $12,000. You have a choice at this point to price your car on the low end of the 'market value', in the middle or at the high end. Let's say you place your car on the market above 'market value' for $20,000 and there's none other like it for sale for that price. You may have to wait a while, BUT if you happen to sell it, your car is now worth $20,000 to you no matter what anyone tries to tell you.
This idea is one that I realised holds true to just about any product or service on the planet and if you can get a hold of it yourself it'll set you up with an open mind moving forward.
Challenge #1: Double what you’re charging currently
Early on in my career when I was trying to figure everything out for myself I was Googling around as you do and came across Sean McCabe. At the time I remember reading an article or blog he wrote that challenged me. He challenged me as the reader to 'Double What I Was Charging'!! My first thought was 'is my work worth double?' quickly followed by 'what if people said yes?'. It instantly helped expand my thinking by realising that there was no harm in trialling this idea. I was my own boss and realised there's only a handful of answers people can respond with. Either:
- Yes (win)
- Not quite but how about $X (if more than what you'd usually quote - win)
- No (which you could then respond by asking 'within reason what would work with your budget?'
OR they don't respond at all... And if this happens 3-5 times in a row or more, you're probably aiming a little too high for your service. Remember it's all trial and error and something's only worth what someone's willing to pay for it. If everything goes pear shaped you can always return to what you were charging initially. BUT even if only HALF of your prospects choose to work with you, then you’re earning the same amount but in half the time. Pretty cool huh?
Challenge #2: Contact other creatives and ask what they charge.
The second thing that helped shape the way I charge for my services was from a simple suggestion by my mentor Rowan. He suggested I jump on the phone with a friend of his who owns a design studio in Sydney and ask him about his process of quoting and what the going rate is in a capital city. At the time I was maybe charging my time out at $20-30 p/hr and Luke told me upfront that the going rate in Sydney was $80 p/hr... At the time that blew my mind! What had I been doing this whole time?! No wonder people loved hiring my services, I was practically giving my skills away.
Gaining a new perspective by simply asking someone what they charge will help you in so many ways. You don’t have to take on their pricing strategy at all if you don’t like it, but it may help you set a foundation or encourage you to go to the next level.
Challenge #3: What do you value your time to be worth?
In deciding where to price your service ask yourself this:
What is my time worth?
How much do you value your time to be worth? I think that’s a continual question to ask yourself. Once you answer this, then it’s just a matter of providing the equivalent value (and some), to your clients. Remember you are your own boss for a reason, you make the rules.
Quoting & Email Psychology:
I’ll quickly touch on this before I wrap up. (I’m planning for this to be another blog/video post all to itself in future) When a prospect reaches out to me via email/FB/Insta whatever it is, the most common question I get is: ‘How much do you charge?’
When you receive this question, you have to understand that your prospect isn’t invested in their email yet. They've potentially sent out 5, 10, 15 emails to different creatives. Therefore if you respond ‘$500’ there’s absolutely no reason for your prospect to reply or choose to work with you. You need to invite them to invest in the conversation which will build relationship and increase the chances of them choosing to work with you.
I will always respond to the question ‘how much do you charge’ by asking for them to explain a little bit about what they’re wanting to create (basically a design brief) and mentioning that then I’ll be able to quote them accurately. I find this small dialogue builds relationship and invites your prospect to invest in your services. Try it!
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Hopefully some of these ideas help pave the way or broaden your thinking around where you might start to price your service or even re-evaluate what you currently charge.
Remember, from my experience it’s all trial and error, there’s no right or wrong and something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
Let me know if you're gaining value from the content I'm putting out into the world! If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions please reach out to me. I'd love to hear from you.
Keep growing, keep hustling!