In Episode #11 of my podcast, Misses Ambitious, my co-host, Blaine, and I discussed how we struggled (heck, still struggle) with charging what we are worth in the beginning stages of our businesses.
Because, let's be real here, at the beginning, we are all "thirsty." Thirsty for clients or customers, thirsty for commissioned work we can show off on social media or in an online portfolio, thirsty for opportunity...and thirsty for money! Yes, I said it. We are pretty much all thirsty for money, because money is what pays those bills, and money is how you will be able to take your creative dream full-time. And this is totally me admitting that I was oh-so thirsty for money in the beginning. And I still am, because of those aforementioned bills.
It's no secret that we need to make an income to support ourselves and our dream. Now, let's ask the hard question: why is it so dang hard to charge what we're worth?! It should be EASY, right? We know how much money we 'need' to survive, and I think it's safe to say most of us have an idea of that dream number we'd like to make. So, charging a solid price for our products and services should be a piece of cake with those numbers in mind...why are we always undercharging ourselves?
Lack of confidence in our skills?
Lack of faith in ourselves to meet the customer or clients needs?
Lack of customers or clients with the proper budget to spend on your products or services?
All of these things play into that paralyzing fear we have of deciding on a number to charge that is A) fair to ourselves B) works for us financially and C) shows our true value to the customer or client. I don't have the magic answers for everyone, but I can share with you the magic answer for ME, in hopes that it will work for you too.
In my specific business, there are three different things I need to charge for:
1. Products and/or services listed on my website (logo design, prints, etc)
-these are either pre-made products or pre-priced services
2. Online Courses
-I'm new to this world, but a course requires SO much more time and energy and nurturing than a product, and also comes with an entirely new set of challenges and obstacles, different value to the customer, etc.
3. Collaborations, sponsored blog or social media posts, or any other potential opportunity that is not listed on my website, and pops up randomly from time to time.
These are case-by-case basis, and should be priced according to the specific situation.
You may have experience with none or all three of those. But, no matter what your situation is, there is one thing that has worked for me in all three of these situations:
Asking myself: "what do I need to charge to ENJOY this process, and keep resentment at bay?"
I'll dissect that question, just in case you're like "heck no, I love what I do! I enjoy this, and I would never be resentful."
What do I need to charge to ENJOY this process?
This is different than what I need to charge to live. This is not charging to pay the bills...this is charging to pay the bills and then some. It's charging to pay myself for this time spent creating, and to fully enjoy the creative process and feel fulfilled in creating for a living, because the income I'll receive from the commission (project, collaboration, etc) is really contributing to my livelihood.
What do I need to charge to keep resentment at bay?
I don't know about you, but I've had some difficult clients. Sometimes it was partly my fault, and sometimes it wasn't (and that's when you have to refund, and say a very cordial goodbye), but this was all back in the beginning when I didn't have firm processes in place to make my life easier, and for the client to understand the ins and outs of working with me. So, when you have those difficult clients, OR those difficult projects (you know, the ones where you're all like 'why the heck did I do this to myself'), you'll rest assured knowing you are being paid a legitimate wage for the work, which keeps you from resenting the client and/or resenting yourself for taking the job. It's not a very fun, glamorous thing to talk about, but truly--if you've ever been in this situation, the whole 'seething with resentment' thing is just not fun.
For creating courses, or pricing products, there are some other things to take into account before asking yourself the magic question. Only you know how much money you've put into your product or service as far as materials and hours of labor go. After that, you need to make a profit, and that's when 'the question' comes into play. Lately, I've been using this method most with collaborations or other random requests I get. If it's something I'm interested in pursuing, I'll ask myself 'the question' and, because I've been burned before and have learned my lesson (eek!), I know a ballpark number.
Now, presenting that number with confidence is something entirely different.
Even to this day, after being in business full-time for an entire year, I am worried and scared every single time I throw my number out there. But, as time goes on, it gets easier to remind myself of my worth.
In the small business world, we have to remember that our clients and customers are coming to us because they want to work with us. Either they like our style, they identify with our story, they are attracted to our brand...no matter what it is, they're coming to us because something in them has been drawn to our work. If they don't already know what kind of investment it's going to be, it can be scary to present a number. But, before I explain some tips for presenting your number, please remember this: if it's too much for them, do not take it personally. Either they aren't your ideal client and it works out for the best, or they will come back to you when they can.
Tips for Presenting Your Number With Confidence:
1. Be professional!
Well duh! But I mean, if it compliments your product or service, create a branded pricing or investment guide that breaks down the cost of the product/service and explains the value in a clear, concise manner. Use example photos, use bullet points, use helpful graphics to show the client/customer what they're getting when they invest with you. If you've done this before, maybe include a review or a testimonial at the bottom of the guide to show your client/customer what others have said about working with you in the past.
2. Be open and inviting to questions, and use positive language
Y'all, don't apologize for your number. Don't ever say "I know it's a lot," or "Don't get sticker shock," or anything of that nature prior to presenting the number. If you're speaking in person, don't hesitate to say it, and don't look scared or nervous when you say it. In e-mail, always use open and positive language, and leave the door open for questions or clarifications on the process or the value of the product.
3. Confidence builds over time
The more opportunities you have, the more products you sell, the more services or courses you provide, the easier it will be to price yourself fairly, and the easier it will be to let go of those opportunities that didn't come your way because of your number.
4. If they see your worth, they'll stick around.
I'm going to use myself as an example. There are so many business courses I want to take online, but I can't always afford them. However, that doesn't turn me off forever. Instead, it gives me something to work for, and I love following along with some of my favorite gurus on social media, and getting even more excited about the day when I can join their community. It doesn't hurt me or upset me that it's not in the cards right now...I see the value in their services enough, that I know they're worth the wait. And it doesn't help that THEY know they're worth the wait as well.
I hope this blog post has given you some insight into what my processes are, and how I like to run my business! The numbers are important, but we have to think about ourselves--the human running the show--and what we deserve as individuals. Use your gut, run the numbers, and be confident in yourself. I promise, those three things combined will make a world of difference!