How to discover your pricing sweet spot as a freelancer
Every freelancer and small business has one thing in common: they each price their services differently. Many factors contribute to pricing; from self-worth and mindset to experience and quality of work. But there is another universal truth, one that doesn’t get spoken of very often, and that is that every freelancer eventually finds their own way of pricing their service. They discover their sweet spot.
What is a pricing sweet spot?
Pricing is really tricky, especially in the creative services industry where each job is unique. But the fact is that you can undervalue your services, and turn off clients who want to invest more heavily, or you can overprice your offering and make clients think you’re ripping them off. Somewhere in that chaos is the “Goldilocks zone”. If you’re yet to discover your pricing sweet spot, allow me to run you through a few ideas for figuring it out. Once you do, you’ll be able to more confidently quote your clients and turn away projects that aren’t right. You’ll have greater control over your business. Let’s dig in:
Tip #1 – Understand how much you currently charge
Many freelancers take each project at a time, licking their finger and waving it in the air to feel which way the wind is blowing. This can work quite well because it means you’re not getting bogged down in feeling like you should be charging a fixed fee, but it isn’t a particularly mindful or sustainable way of pricing your projects.
In most cases, price quotes that vary wildly indicate a poor sense of positioning on the part of the freelancer. A lack of consistency is a sign that you’re not in control. Start by asking how you came to your current rates. Did you want to undercut the competition? Do you not believe you can charge more? Spend some time dwelling on what brought you to where you are, and use this as your starting point to figuring out the sweet spot.
Tip #2 – Know that the client sets the price, not you
This is an important realisation, and one that many freelancers never really come to terms with: it doesn’t really matter what you think of your work, it is ultimately the client who decides whether or not they’re going to buy. The trick, then, is in helping them to see what you can see. Here is how to do that:
-Invest heavily in your proposal process and put yourself in their shoes at all times. What questions might they have? What do they really want? Connect with this and you’ll be able to command whatever rate you want.
-Position yourself with authority by speaking in person (or video chat), not hiding behind email. Get a formal contract. Talk clients through your proposals. This sets you apart from the cheaper providers.
-Value your own work. If you don’t, why would a client?
These practices can help you level up your thinking about your freelance work. They can really help in uncovering your best pricing zone.
Tip #3 – Don’t fear rejection
One of the main reasons that freelancers undercharge for their work, or agree to ludicrous terms, is because they deeply believe that there is not enough work to go around. They feel lucky to be given an opportunity. Whilst gratitude is important, it is vital to understand there are opportunities everywhere. Internalise this fact, because you’re going to need it; when testing out your pricing to find your sweet spot, you might be rejected because you’ve overshot the mark. It is better to overprice and lose out (though frankly, this is unlikely) than to continue to undercharge for your work and never grow. Don’t fear being rejected – it is a learning experience.
Getting close to perfect takes practice
Perfect does not exist, but you can get close. Once you put some of the ideas explored here into practice, your confidence will grow and you’ll find that, almost automatically, your prices will rise. What’s more, you’ll enjoy greater respect from your clients and more enjoyable projects to boot. And all because one day you decided to take a closer look at what you charge. Good luck!
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Matt Saunders is a freelancer coach. He helps freelance web developers and graphic designers build better businesses. You can find out more on his coaching website, and if you’re struggling to manage client expectations check out his book Thriving in the Face of Danger.
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