Know Your Value: 5 Tips to Master Your Pricing Strategy

Have you ever suffered from what I call price-o-phobia? It’s that moment when you’re dealing with a client who wants to know your fees. And, though you know you could — or should — be quoting higher rates, you name a low number? Then, if you hear silence on the other end of the phone, you spurt out an extra discount or throw in another perk?

I must confess … I’ve done that before.

If you’re new to copywriting, pricing is a real challenge. How can you be picky about your fees when clients are slim-to-none?

Sure, low prices and specs can get you started and help build your portfolio. But, at some point, you have to start increasing your prices. Because, no matter what level of copywriting you’re at, you shouldn’t short-change yourself. You’re not just pricing words, you’re pricing value.

So, here are five tips to help you stay strong and stick to your guns when naming a price for your writing services.

  1. Get your mindset straight: You bring great value to clients, and you know a lot more than you think you do.

    Think you’re not seasoned enough as a writer to charge substantial fees? You may be more humble than you should be.

    If you’re truly a beginner, it’s in your interest to price on the lower end of the scale, but be careful not to price too low.

    Why?

    You’re offering a professional service that brings great value to your client. With or without years of experience, you probably already know more about writing effective web copy than any potential client.

    The time you’ve put into learning and sharpening your writing skills is all part of the process of providing expert knowledge.

    Doctors make a whole lot of money with every appointment. But, they’re not getting paid just for spending time with patients. They’re factoring in their expert status attained through years and years in med school.

    You, too, should factor in your hard-earned knowledge and regular efforts to improve your writing and excel at your craft.

  2. Give yourself time to assess the project scope before naming a number.

    You’re likely to find clients who want to know your fees from the get-go. Some might even seem agitated if you don’t want to share your fees right away.

    Don’t let them rush you. You shouldn’t name a solid number until you’ve given yourself time to think about the overall project and let it sink in.

    Every project is different. Before naming a fee, consider variables like the size of the company, its budget, the word count of the project, and the estimated amount of time it’ll take to research and write.

    If a client insists on knowing what you charge, it’s fair to offer her a fees sheet. A fees sheet lists a price range of your basic services. Make sure you include a broad range of prices rather than any set numbers. This will allow you flexibility with the final price.

    A fees sheet is not just a good guideline for your clients — it’s a good guideline for you. It’s a reminder that you should never price projects lower than the lowest part of your ‘published’ fees range.

    When you get to the point where you want to earn a higher range of fees, it’s time to draft a new fees sheet. Adding an expiration date to each sheet will allow you leeway to raise prices later on.

  3. Price what you feel comfortable with.

    Perhaps you’re new to copywriting and you don’t feel bold enough to price your first e-letter at $1,000. That’s okay! Plus, it may be a challenge finding a client willing to pay that much for a basic e-letter.

    First, get an idea of common industry prices. The Pricing Guide for Web Copywriters is a good starting point. Feel free to ask for pricing tips in the Wealthy Web Writer forum as well.

    If you know a regular e-letter is normally priced between $50 and $200, pick a number in this range that makes you happy. If you’re a new copywriter and feel like you’ll scare your client away by naming $200, start at $50. Or, if you feel the client will go for a price like $100, go for that.

    Then, you could always work your way up to charging $200 or more when you gain experience and feel confident your clients will pay higher fees.

  4. Raise your rates regularly.

    The more you write, the better you become. The better you become, the more you deserve higher fees.

    If you were employed at a company, you’d want to receive regular raises. So, don’t forget when you’re commanding your own prices, you need to give yourself plenty of financial boosts. After all, you’ve earned them with your dedication and hard work!

    Schedule a reminder every six months, year, or whatever you feel works well. Then, raise your rates anywhere from 10% – 30% each time.

  5. Avoid pricing hourly work.

    The number one reason to avoid hourly pricing is because the more you write for a client, the less time you need to complete a task. If you get a weekly assignment for $50/hour, you’ll gradually start working quicker when you get the hang of things. That means you’d start earning less money for each project.

    Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?

    However, let’s say you set a project fee of $200 for an article that might initially take four hours. When you get used to the job and figure out what the client wants, you can cut your writing time down to two hours.

    At two hours a pop, you’ve just given yourself an hourly raise from $50 to $100 per hour! But, your client doesn’t need to know this. He just needs to see that your finished product is stellar.

    In sum, always stick with a project fee.

Pricing can be tricky — especially because every client and every project is different. Whether you price a project at $50 or $5,000, you’ll find clients who can pay, and clients who can’t pay.

Just remember to stand firm on the prices that seem fair to you. You play an important role for online businesses, whether it’s writing to make sales, build email lists, boost click-through-rates … whatever the case, you help them. In exchange, you deserve a quality professional payment.

This article, Know Your Value: 5 Tips to Master Your Pricing Strategy, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: July 13, 2011

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