The "Free to Shining Fee" Strategy

Want to boost your project income?

Take a look at those little — and sometimes not so little — extras you do for clients for no charge. One or more of those freebies could potentially be converted into a service that clients would be happy to pay you for.

I call this the "Free to Shining Fee" Strategy, and I discovered it almost by accident just a few years ago.

At the time, I was doing a booming business writing case studies; a type of project that, as you may know, requires someone to interview a client's customer to flesh out the story and garner testimonials. Sometimes the client would handle this in-house and just send me the recording or transcript. Other times, however, I would be required do the interview myself. Regardless, I always charged the same fee for the project.

Then, one day, I realized that doing that customer interview was additional work I was essentially doing for free. So I decided to package that activity as a separate consulting service. My plan was this: My fee to write a case study would still be $1,250. But if the client wanted me to handle the customer interview as well, that would cost an additional $500.

Frankly, I was a little nervous about introducing this separate consulting service, based on something most freelance writers still did for no charge. But to my pleasant surprise, clients were fine with it. In fact, many appreciated and valued my "Success Story & Testimonial Development" service — as I now called it — simply because I made it distinct, gave it a name, clearly communicated its value to clients, and charged accordingly.

Overall, my average income from case study work increased by about 25%. And I didn't have to work additional hours to earn it.

Can this strategy work for you and the kind of projects you handle? Just off the top of my head, I know:

  • A PR writer who now gets a separate consulting fee to submit press releases to media release companies and monitor results.
  • A grant writer who has developed a separate consulting service that involves finding prospective grant programs for her nonprofit clients. (That service, which she used to do for no charge, now represents the majority of her income!)
  • An SEO copywriter and consultant who used to research keywords for free but now charges a modest fee for that service.
  • A medical copywriter who charges a fee to develop the key messages for a product or service before he writes the copy for a specific project.

The trick is to package the service in such a way that clients understand the full value and don't see it as just an expensive add-on. For my Success Story & Testimonial Development service, my package includes the customer interview, an mp3 recording, a transcript, a short synopsis of the success story, and a list of customer quotes that can be used as testimonials. To most clients, the $500 price tag is a deal!

So look closely at those little extras you do for clients. Yes, I'm sure they appreciate them. But, chances are, you're not going to lose any goodwill by converting some of those freebies into attractive service packages that you can — and perhaps should — be getting paid to do.

This article, The "Free to Shining Fee" Strategy, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: June 25, 2015

1 Response to “The "Free to Shining Fee" Strategy”

  1. Steve, you never cease to amaze me. George Carlin would be proud."From Free to Shining Fee" I love it! Just wondering if you're on any kind of medicine? Can I get some too?

    It's a tough job to raise prices. And it's not something to do just for the halibut. If it's fair and justified I'm more than on-board ... I'm an advocate!

    As a newbie to the copy writing game it's not on my immediate "to-do" list but for those of you in the same class as Steve I say think it over and act accordingly!


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