One of the hardest things I do on a daily basis with my business is pricing. I hate pricing. Honestly, if I could just do everything for free and not have any finances to worry about, I totally would, just to avoid that dreaded thing. Inevitably, we always get the question about it and I always feel so awkward talking about it. So much so that instead of having the confidence to just say my quote or price in person or over the phone, I tell them I will email them a formal quote later. In some respects, this works great. It is always good to have a paper trail when money is involved. But sometimes it would be nice to have more confidence to just say it over the phone and follow it up with a formal quote.
One of the biggest things I took away from the Creative at Heart Conference was my chat with Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company. I had an amazing chance to talk with her a bit one on one at the cupcake social and what she said about pricing really stuck with. "If you don't take yourself seriously, who else will?"
That totally stuck with me, and it's something I won't forget. It's what really encouraged me to not just set my pricing, but also be clear about what's included and set those expectations.
There are a few key things that have really helped me through the process of determining my pricing and standing behind.
Account For It
When I mean account for it, I mean it all. When figuring out my pricing, I made spreadsheets of how long things took me and how much things costs: how long it took me to answer emails, create quotes, meeting time, and actual project time and then how much it cost for client gifts, test prints, or any other items included in that package. I know it seems silly, to even account for the time it takes to email back and forth or create a quote, but if you were working at a 9-5 job, don't you get paid to check and respond to your emails?
This is a 'REAL JOB'
Sometimes it can be hard to remember that running a small business is a real job, especially when people don't always treat like such. I can't tell you how many people think this is more of a 'hobby' than it is a real job. But, we have all of the major components of working for a larger company, except instead of having different departments, we do it all ourselves. Instead of a big corporate credit card, all expenses come directly out of our paychecks. So if you question whether or not you should charge for something or take certain time into account, try to think of it as, would be paid for if you worked at a larger company. (Except Facebook. Facebook time doesn't count:) )
Hold Out For Your Ideal Client
At first, I took offense to people who didn't want to work with me or didn't think I was worth what I was charging. But as I've grown, I've come to realize that by charging a little bit more, people not only take me seriously, but those who do sign on, sign on because they sincerely want to work with ME, and in the end those are the clients that are fun to work with, that I understand better, and in the end provide a much better product and service because I am happy and excited to be working with them.
A lot of times, it feels like our clients/customers become our friends and it's so easy to forget that we are still running a business. And that's okay! That's one of the HUGE benefits of small businesses. But don't be afraid to speak up if there's something you need to talk about that isn't necessarily fun. What happens if the scope of the project changes? What if your client doesn't pay on time? What if that colored envelope they absolutely LOVED is no longer in stock and you can't find it? It is okay to put on your 'professional pants' and be honest.
Communication is SO huge that this is the one of the first things I lay out before even starting a project. And I talk about it in regards to both sides, myself and my client. I tell the client that I want them to be honest with me about the work I'm providing and that I want to be honest with them in how I'm feeling about the work load. I know it's the tough part, but don't be afraid to communicate how you are feeling. There's nothing worse than finishing a job and never wanting to work with that person again because it was a terrible experience. Sometimes a little honesty and communication can change EVERYTHING.
You Are Worth It
Here's the most important part: YOU ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY AND EVERY MINUTE OF WHAT YOU DO FOR YOUR CLIENTS. You are amazing, talented and offer something that only you can offer: YOURSELF. You have so much to give your clients, and if they have signed up with you, it's because they want YOU and are willing to pay whatever that cost.
So TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY. If you don't, no one else will.