Pricing and packaging are hard to nail down as a freelancer. No way around that.
Often when you start out freelancing, you don’t have the confidence yet to charge what your work is truly worth. We often set our rates too low and sell ourselves short.
This was true for Samantha and me when we first started freelancing. We were charging hourly and quickly realized that the value we offered was being lost as the hours were tallied up.
The good news is that while pricing and packaging your work appropriately and accurately is challenging, you are your own boss. You run your own business and you can shift things whenever you want to!
So if you don’t feel properly compensated for your work and you want to start charging more, it’s time to make a change. We’re going to guide you through how to reposition your packaging, and raise your rates confidently so you can get paid more.
And, we’re living, breathing proof that these steps work.
If you don’t feel properly compensated for your work, it’s time to make a change.
Shift your mindset from selling services, to selling outcomes.
Repeat after me: the work that you do is important. You don’t simply complete tasks, you help push businesses forward. For example, you’re not selling 3 blog posts for $1,000. You’re selling an outcome: content that’s going to increase traffic to your client’s site and ultimately lead to more revenue.
If you read that and are having a hard time figuring out the outcome and value you’re selling, try this:
Look back on your last five clients. What was the outcome of your work together? What value did they get from that work? It can even be helpful to look through past emails to see what exact words and phrases they used to describe your work.
Use this to build your outcome-based elevator pitch. The goal is to be able to explain the value you provide, in 2-3 sentences. Use this as the basis for sales calls, proposals, your website, and more.
For example, your elevator pitch might be: “I’m a content marketing and SEO expert with more than 2 years of experience working with early-stage startups. I help you scale organic traffic and revenue through optimized on and off-site content.”
From there you can detail exactly what the actual tasks and processes are to fulfill that outcome.
Position yourself as an expert partner.
It’s important that you not only think of what you offer this way but that you communicate it clearly to your potential client as well. When you start communicating the outcome and the actual value of your work (I.E. more website traffic, HR processes that impact the bottom line), it’s easier for you to charge a higher price and get paid what you deserve. It’s all about positioning!
That’s all well and good, but you may be wondering: what do you even mean by “positioning”? Great question! We’re talking about the way you refer and speak to your skill set and the overall value you’re bringing.
When you’re speaking to a new client, or putting together your proposal, be cognizant of the language you’re using.
For example, you might use language in your proposal like:
- Together we’ll build a paid marketing strategy to…
- Your in-house designers and I will partner on the creation of assets…
- As your social media strategist, I’ll work closely with your existing team…
Notice how this language alludes to you partnering, rather than simply doing.
Make the change from hourly to retainer- or project-based pricing.
While this isn’t the right move for everyone, for many freelancers retainer- or project-based pricing is a way to distance yourself from explaining what goes into every minute that you’re working. What you do is worth more than the hours you put into it.
As the popular saying goes, “I’m not charging for the 10 minutes it took me to do this, I’m charging for the 10 years of experience I brought to it!” This is another powerful shift that starts with you (knowing the value of your work!) so your clients can understand it too.
What’s more, clients may not understand how much work goes into something you’re creating (remember, they’re not the experts in this, you are!). Rather than justifying what you know to be a reasonable number of hours, you can wrap everything up into one lump sum. Don’t forget to still be detailed in documenting the work included in that retainer or project so they can still clearly see the magnitude of work being done.
Use your website, marketing, and proposals as a way to communicate value.
You should be using your website, social media presence, and proposals as a way to communicate the value of your work clearly. This can be hard to do—even a humblebrag can feel uncomfy, we know!
But once you shift your mindset, lock down your elevator pitch and positioning, and tie in your pricing, it’s time to share that with the world!
Putting that message out there not only helps to get you in front of the right potential clients, but it allows you to sell value before you even touch base with a client for the first time.
Get a gut check from your community.
If you’re feeling unsure of your new positioning and pricing, run it by someone! Even if you’re running your business on your own, there’s an entire community out there who wants to help—and can provide insights you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.
Find someone you admire and ask for their feedback. Don’t focus too much on whether you have competitive rates. Instead, get their opinion on whether they think a potential client could understand the value you’re trying to get across.
If you don’t have anyone in your back pocket to speak to already, start connecting with other freelancers through online and offline communities. Check out our list of freelance communities we love if you’re not sure where to get started!