A friend received a text message from a strange number. The message read: “Hello, friend. I’m Lawson and I’d like to hire you to take pictures for my mother’s birthday party. Please let me know your rate.”
Never assuming anything strange, my friend wrote back and asked a few details about the birthday party — like date and location. Turns out, the party would be in Michigan in mid-July.
My friend was flabbergasted! How had Lawson found him online? Lawson revealed he saw his work on Facebook and wanted to hire him. My friend lives in Southern California! His fees would be outrageous to work a birthday party in Michigan! He gave a quote and Lawson immediately agreed. Lawson wanted to pay right away.
My friend realized he was being contacted by a scammer and had quoted too little! Naturally, my friend did not give Lawson his bank account number so he could make a payment.
My friend has admitted that he has trouble assessing his fees or what his services are worth. We joked that even with an internet scammer, he underpriced himself!
So many of us who work for ourselves or have a side hustle don’t know how to price our goods or services. We don’t want to appear greedy but we also must earn a living. The internal conflict occurs when we have to ask or tell someone how much we charge. It’s easy when someone offers up their budget and we either agree and can price ourselves accordingly.
Expertise may have a hefty price tag because masters put in tons of work (they are experiencde), effort (they are willing and determined) and have some sort of education. Hence, graphic designers charge a lot of money for logos and websites or hair stylists can have steep fees for cuts, colors and blowouts.
Clearly money is always a hot topic that causes us to feel proud, uncomfortable, indifferent, ashamed, sad, worried, and many other emotions. In the US, money is all around us — highlighting what we need, what we don’t have and what we should be spending and saving.
I’ve been working with a bunch of clients who are under earning. Some clients tell me about their mantra that goes like this, “I can’t afford it.” They don’t have proof that they can’t afford something, just a sense, usually since childhood and hearing their parents utter these same words, that they should not spend money. People who say this truly may not be able to afford something — but they may also surprise themselves.
I notice many of my clients devoting hours and energy to hard work. I see people with high overhead costs of living (cable and tons of subscriptions they don’t use or need). They are devoting hours of time and energy to putting themselves out there, but are not requesting enough compensation for their expertise.
Asking for the appropriate fees, whether in salary or in freelance gigs, can be challenging. How do you decide how much to charge? How can you get paid what you’re worth? Who decides what something is worth?
When I was assessing my fees, my coach recommended that I say it aloud to myself at least 100 times a day — until I could say the number without flinching or laughing — or worst of all, apologizing. I notice many of my female clients speaking sheepishly when they have to discuss fees. And I see male clients who can utter the fee without embarrassment, but start too low.
There are tons of financial appraisers who know how to value antiques or other tangible items and estimate their worth. But the majority of my clients find it challenging when they’re trying to identify an appropriate fee for their service: photography, web design, personal training and private yoga instruction.
Here is how we work through this:
- Do comparison and market research. It’s important to find out how similar services are priced — both in your immediate location and in comparable markets.
- Price yourself in such a way that allows you to not be “broke” or resentful. If this means you’re a little higher, how can you go above and beyond and do more for your clients? Remember, this is ultimately about service, not money.
- Give great quality. Be proud of your work and make your clients feel confident in their decision to choose YOU.
- Learn how to say your fees without apology or embarrassment. Practice, practice, practice saying your fees aloud.
- Trust your instinct and know that you will get clients who value your work.
It was challenging to start charging enough for my coaching practice. I didn’t take my education and experience into account at first. Rather, I felt badly for having fees at all. But I noticed myself going broke by undercharging. When I began taking myself more seriously, so did all of my potential and current clients.
I work with clients in need of business and professional coaching. Please contact me to schedule a conversation.