We tackle that loaded question - how should you price your services?
When I decided to finally DO IT and start my business, happily, it felt like everything just kind of flowed. The words spilled out of me when writing my website copy, designing the site became my favourite thing to do when I had a spare minute, and while there were a LOT of long nights, there weren’t too many things I um’d and ah’d about.
Except the pricing. Oh, the number of hours I spent pondering, discussing and googling this one thing!
Having previously always worked in magazines, either for a company as an employee or as a freelancer where the publishing house set the rate they’d pay their freelancers, when I went out on my own with Little Birdie Copy, the whole ‘deciding how much to charge’ thing was very new - and very confusing.
Setting my pricing was made all the more tricky by virtue of two things: a) People don’t like to talk about money – which makes it tricky to get advice from your network (think asking friends/contacts how much they charge and/or gauging whether they think your rates sound appropriate) b) Many service-based creative businesses (such as copywriters, content producers and graphic designers) don’t list their pricing on their website, which makes it very tricky to find out what the standard rates are in your industry.
Does your head hurt just thinking about it?! On top of all this, there can be so many emotions tied into how we value ourselves and our work – and how confident we are in putting that out there. It's important to consider this - but also to be level-headed and practical!
“Pricing is an equation, it’s not an emotion. So often when we’re passionate about what we’re doing we get emotional about, it’s only natural. But that doesn’t come into play…when it comes to what you charge for your products or services…How much do you want or need to make for the year? How many hours are you committed to working towards that goal?...You have to run the numbers.” - Jenna Kutcher
It helped me to have a few parameters to guide the way when making this decision. SO, in case it may help you too, here's an insider look at the five questions I asked myself when setting my pricing for Little Birdie Copy:
1) How much do I want to earn?
Yep, this was the FIRST question I asked. In my experience, women (and especially those of us in creative fields) can get super awkward around this, feeling almost as though if we’re lucky enough to do something we love, it would just be too greedy to want to get paid well for it too. Personally, I resolved to ditch this angst and finally allocate myself a price tag that I thought accurately, and generously, represented my worth.
Next, I thought about all of the boring stuff - all our financial obligations, rent/mortgage, bills, etc; then thought about the fun stuff – what else would I like to add to our life in the way of travel, savings, etc. From here I decided on a weekly figure I was happy with.
Then, I thought about how many hours I want to/am able to work per week (I currently ‘officially’ work two full days during the week when my toddler is at kindy, plus many, many hours during the evenings and on weekends.) From there it was simple maths to come to a ballpark hourly rate!
But of course, when it comes to setting rates, there are a few more factors that come into it – so I also asked myself the following questions…
2) What’s a reasonable rate to charge in my industry?
Of course, pricing in any industry, from copywriting to coaching to styling, falls on a spectrum depending on factors like experience, skill, contacts and past clients/portfolio - but hunting around online (once I found enough people who listed pricing) gave me a general range of how much copywriters and content creators in Australia are charging for their services. By slotting myself into this scale based on where I sit according to the above factors, I could see if my pricing was wildly off, or about right.
3) What is my brand niche?
Then, I took into account what exactly my brand niche is, and who I’m targeting with my copywriting, content creation and branding services. Essentially, who is my ideal customer? The result: my pricing is on the higher end of average, but it’s definitely not at the very pointy end – because I choose to work with lifestyle brands, creative entrepreneurs and small businesses, rather than big corporates, so my pricing needs to be accessible to these people as my ideal clients.
4) How will I feel when a client pays me this much?
I visualised exactly how it will feel when I complete a client project and drop my pretty little invoice into their inbox. (Hint: hopefully you’ll feel proud, fulfilled and a little expansive. On the flipside, if you sense a tightening, angsty feeling in your chest, or any lingering sense of resentment toward the client, this is your clue that your current rate is not high enough.) I made sure my rate made me truly feel I’m being paid what I deserve.
5) Does listing my pricing on my website make me a little nervous?
Spoiler: The correct answer to this one is yes! The rates you set for yourself shouldn’t feel like you’re playing it safe - it should feel like you’re ever so slightly stepping out of your comfort zone. Again, as a generalisation, as women we can often steer away from asking for more, meaning our incomes can plateau. But if your skills and experience deserve more? Go out on a limb and ask for what you're worth (even if it's a little scarier than staying put).
6) Despite this, do I know deep down I’m worth it?
And now for a little disclaimer: I’m not saying you should just name any price with a lot of zeros on the end just because you’d quite fancy buying a new car. Being kind, honest and just a decent human goes a long way, so of course when setting my prices I wanted to make sure everyone would be happy at the end of the day. I fully believe that any resentment towards those you’re working with over what you are (or aren’t!) being paid/charged, creates a negative energy that seeps into the relationship. Every transaction and every project you take on is an energy exchange, so I aim to end each project with both the client and I feeling chuffed with what we each put into, and got out of, it. So, I made sure I ticked this one too!
And there you have it! An complete insider look at how I decided how much to charge in my business. Have you spent as much time overthinking this as I have? I'd love for you to share your experience!