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Do you struggle with pricing your creative work?
Well, you’re not the only one.
How to price your work has been a hot topic ever since I can remember.
As much as we would all want it, there isn’t really a simple answer to that question.
But don’t worry, my friend Jasmine aka @yourpricingqueen is here to clear the air and help you get a better understanding of how to price your artwork.
Enjoy the interview!
1. For those who don’t know you, who is the Pricing Queen?
Thanks so much for having me, Max!
Hi guys, I’m Jaz, Pricing Queen and 6 Figure Design Superwoman (My coach makes me say the 6-figure part). I’ve been in the design and creative industry now for 14 years, and as a result, I have seen just about every way that a business can charge for what they do.
I’m fortunate enough to say that I have learned a lot about pricing and building a successful business. The Design Superwoman is the one who knows how to run a creative studio, attract clients, create value, and charge well for it.
The Pricing Queen is the one who teaches it to those who need it most; freelancers, designers, and creatives who are frustrated with their pricing and need that extra serving to help them get where they need to be.
2. How much should I be charging?
Now that is a complex question!
The short answer is you should charge enough to make a living without sacrificing having a life.
The long answer is you need to make sure your pricing is doing these three things:
Is it covering your bills with the profit left over?
Is it communicating a level of value that you can justifiably serve?
Is it a cost that your target client can actually afford to pay?
That last one may feel weird, but it’s worth considering. And just to be clear, your pricing shouldn’t drop because your clients can’t afford you. In most cases, it just means the clients you are targeting and the value you are serving aren’t matched. Low prices attract cheap clients. It’s as simple and as complex as that.
3. How do I know if I’m pricing the right way?
It’s my strong opinion that there is no “right way” to price, that your pricing is unique to you, like your taste in music or food. Pricing is a personal thing, and it depends on what you are serving your clients, what kind of service they expect, and whether your target market is interested in what you offer and can see the value, it’s a complex balance.
But the start for me is asking, “what do I do well, who will it benefit most, and do they want to buy it from me?”. Start with skill, infused with passion, and check the market.
4. When should I use hourly pricing?
Hourly pricing as a structure for your business is fine when starting out, but it has some major drawbacks when you start getting better and gaining experience.
For example, when we work faster and we charge the same hourly rate, we actually end up making less as a result, even though our value has grown. So logically, our rate should grow with our value, right? But this has a ceiling. And if our hourly rate makes clients run for the hills, there is a fair chance that hourly isn’t right for that particular situation.
This is where the other drawback of hourly is, in the relationship between client and creative. When pricing hourly, you’re entering the arena with differing aims and intentions. The client wants it fast and as much under budget as possible, with the best result in the least amount of time. On the other hand, you want to do a good job, understanding that it takes time, and you don’t want to feel rushed. So straight away, you’re at odds with the client.
BUT the question was when SHOULD you use hourly? (Sorry, Max, a bit of a tangent there)
Use hourly when the scope is undefined like you, and the client knows what the result should be, but you have no idea how you are going to get there and how long it will take. You can also use hourly to test out projects to understand their time investment so that when you repeat the task, the value is set from the dollar result of the time invested. You’re naturally going to get better/faster/more efficient. Therefore this will be more profitable over time.
5. I’m scared I’m undercharging. How do I know, and how do I stop?
It’s kinda like when you discover you’re thirsty. If you’re worried you’re dehydrated and you’re feeling thirsty, chances are you’re already dehydrated. If you’re not sure if you’re undercharging, you probably are.
Indicators like you’re not making much profit at the end of a week where you’ve worked your butt off and not much to show for it. For example, you’re always busy but too busy to take time off for a hard-earned break. Or you feel like you’re stuck.
You stop by taking a step back and asking if the clients you have now are the clients you want in the future. If you do, can you see them accepting a rate raise? And if you can’t, refer to question one. Rate rises are common, normal business practices, so if your clients can’t see the value of what you are serving and the prices attached to that, then you don’t need better prices. You need better clients.
6. How do I handle clients who question my prices?
Clients who ask questions are a really good thing! Stick with me here.
If a client asks questions, they are trying to find a way to work with you. So it’s not a no. It’s a let’s try and make this work.
When clients ask questions, it means they are trying to negotiate. Definitely not saying that it’s time to drop the price because they said so, but start trying to understand why they are asking. Is it that they had a budget they were trying to fit within, or did they simply underestimate the cost? Are they trying to use tactics or trying to lowball you?
When dealing with these situations, listen to your gut. You can always walk away if a client is trying to haggle or devalue your skills. Or alternatively, you can alter the deliverables to reflect their new investment number.
7. What if the client says I’m too expensive?
That’s 100% ok! In fact, this is probably more valuable to you working out your prices than if they said yes. So when the client comes back and says this, I want you to ask yourself these questions in order.
- Is this the right job/client/project for me right now?
- When you provided the quote, is there a chance the client didn’t understand the value you were proposing and do they need that level?
- If I go back to the client to negotiate, will this be a fair negotiation?
I’ll admit I’ve had clients tell me this many, many times before. It’s important that if you do decide to go back to the client and negotiate if you do need to drop the dollars, make sure to drop the deliverables at the same time. They’re both linked to each other in value, so it makes sense to keep them even.
In fact, I generally say if you are getting more than 50% yes responses to your quotes, you’re probably too cheap. Not every client will be your problem to solve.
8. How do I get more confident in my pricing?
Confidence in your prices is something that we all crave. So I made this acronym.
C, Calculate the numbers that represent your own unique situation. This way, you can be confident that you are making enough to make ends meet.
R, Research what your market needs and find the solution. By being solution-based, you can be confident that you are solving a valuable problem.
A, Ask all the questions. The more questions you ask, the closer to the answer you get, and the more confident you can be in the solution.
V, value what you are creating. While we may think what we do is easy, it’s only easy for us because we have developed that valuable skill. Therefore, we must value ourselves to be confident that what we provide is valuable.
E. Evaluate and adjust as you go. You aren’t going to get it right the first time. Confidence is a muscle that you exercise. The more you alter and try things, you find out what works and what to avoid.
9. How do I charge clients?
Depending on where you are in the world, this will be different for everyone. There are plenty of options, from free to paid and premium options, depending on your situation.
I personally use Freshbooks to process any quotes, invoices, or payments, as well as track my income and expenses and prepare my books for my taxes and accountant.
Other options might include setting up PayPal invoices, using a system like Wave, Xero, or Quickbooks, or simply sending the client an invoice prepared in word that lists the details of the transaction, what they are expected to pay, and details on how to pay like bank details.
Remember, unless you send them the invoice, they aren’t going to pay.
10. Do I put my prices on my website?
This one is a bit of a personal preference and depends on how you have positioned yourself, whether you want to attract clients that favor that sort of access (sometimes they are price shopping) and if you have services that can be listed.
Just keep in mind that when you list your prices, you are locking yourself into that price for as long as it is live. So say you wanted to raise your rates or change what you offer, you would need to make sure that you update or change that when you do.
I’ve seen it work for some and not work for others, but one way you can get around this in a way is by listing your prices as starting prices. So, for example, instead of saying Branding Packages are $3,000, you would say Branding Packages start from $3000. This also means that when you’re in negotiations, you have more wiggle room and can offer more value easily.
11. My friends and family always ask for freebies, what do I do?
There’s a good chance that they are trying to do two things here. One would hopefully support you with work. The other is to reap the benefit of the relationship.
In all cases, whether family, friends or someone who thinks they are entitled to a lower cost, it’s important to understand why they believe they deserve it. I’m not saying don’t, because I personally don’t charge my immediate family, but have boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable and communicate that.
For example, if I had a friend or family member ask me to do a job for them, I would communicate the value it would usually be charged at so they understand what they are actually asking for. I would then also set boundaries like I won’t be doing the work as a priority. That space is left for paying clients.
At the end of the day, if you don’t want to do freebies, you need to learn to say no. One of my favorite resources is http://shouldiworkforfree.com/ from Jessica Hische, which gives you a really good chart idea on if you should work for free.
12. How do I determine my prices?
Firstly, your prices should always start from your own recipe.
What I mean by this is that you need to cover your own situation, what expenses you have, what hours you can work, and what salary number would suit your skills. A common mistake is basing your prices on what others charge, which often ends up costing you in the long run because you don’t know your own numbers. You know someone else’s and will have trouble adjusting when the time comes.
Just to be clear, you’re definitely fine to ask what others charge, but let it guide you, not define your rates. This is called a market rate.
Running your own numbers and calculations to work out what your time is worth is literally the first step I recommend any creative or any business owner, in fact, should do. Knowing the value of your time will help start you thinking about what you can do with that time and how to charge for your skills.
I actually have a FREE Billable Hour Calculator that does this calculation for you, where you start with your salary, stir in your expenses, portion into your working hours, and your rate will be served up for you. It has helped over 500 people so far charge their worth and help them work out the value of their time. So let’s help you too!
About the author
Lettering Daily is an online community that provides educational and inspirational content for hand lettering and calligraphy beginners. Our mission is to help artists and enthusiasts from all around the world to learn and improve their hand lettering and calligraphy skills.