Having Pricing Challenges? 8 Things to Try
If you’re running into pricing challenges, no need to stress. I’ve got some ideas for you to try.
First, it’s important to understand that there’s no right way to “do” your pricing, and that can be a challenge in and of itself, especially if you’re a new copywriter with no idea at all of how you should price your services.
That’s why you have to start with the right mindset; you need a mindset of experimentation, so you will be open to trying multiple approaches until you find the one(s) that works best for you.
If nothing else, this leaves you with a variety of pricing strategies in your “pricing toolbox” to choose from when you make a proposal to a client — and that’s just a smart way to do business!
So when you’re having pricing challenges, here are eight pricing “experiments” you can test in real life:
- Try a different pricing strategy. If you give an hourly rate and your prospect balks at it, propose a fixed fee instead. With a fixed or project-based fee, you give a price for the project that is valid no matter how long it takes you. Likewise, if they object when you propose a fixed fee, try a “package price,” where you package up a few services for a combo price. And if you’re really daring, you can try a “value-based” pricing strategy, where they pay for what the project is worth to them based on the results they are aiming for, which usually is far greater than what it would cost you to do.
- Try offering a price range, rather than one price. Proposing to do a project for $1,500-$2,000, for example, gives you some cushion and space for the inevitable unknowns that arise with every project, especially when you’re working with a brand-new client. If things go smoothly, you can charge on the low end of the range. If things get complicated, you’ve already built in a cushion and won’t (or at least shouldn’t) resent the extra time it takes.
- Try offering two or three options, otherwise known as “tiered pricing.” For example, you could propose a “Basic” option, an “Enhanced” option, and a “Premium” option, giving your prospect more than one option to choose from. When you give only one option, it’s easier for them to say no than when they have a couple or a few to choose from. In other words, you essentially increase your odds of getting the project simply by offering more than one option.
- Try presenting your proposal or pricing in real time (on the phone or via video chat), rather than sending it via email. When you discuss it with them in real time, you will basically avoid the deafening silence that very often follows when you submit your pricing via email.
- Try getting their budget first. If you are afraid your price might be too high (or even too low), don’t give it until you find out what they have available to spend. Don’t ask “What’s your budget?” — they may not know. Instead, my favorite question to ask is, “Are you thinking $500, $5,000, or $50,000?” They usually know which of these numbers their non-existent budget is closest to, revealing that they do in fact know their budget. Plus, this wide and almost absurd price spectrum makes it clear these are not your actual prices and therefore allows them to place themselves on your spectrum by saying something like, “Oh, well, $500 is obviously too low and it’s certainly not $50K. Actually, we were thinking around $3,000.”
- Try raising your prices. Stuck at the same price for years? Can’t raise the prices on your existing clients? It’s very difficult to get existing clients to pay more unless you’re offering more. So to avoid getting stuck in a pricing rut, get into the habit of incrementally and consistently increasing your prices with each new client. Because they have no idea what you charge, adding a tiny fraction more with each new client will be imperceptible. It will also allow you to see what the market will bear.
- Try tracking your time. Not sure whether you are working profitably or losing money with your prices? The only way to know is to track your billable time — that is the time spent writing as well as on correspondence, meetings, research, and project management. (You should track the time you spend on your admin and marketing efforts too.) You won’t have to do this forever — just until you have a handle on how long things take and how much you should charge based on the actual time spent.
- Try getting help. Whether you have your pricing in place or you have absolutely no idea what to charge, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, whether that be from a trusted colleague, a mentor, or, the handy standard of the industry report, AWAI’s Copywriting Pricing Guide.
With all of that said, here’s the thing: most pricing problems are actually marketing problems in disguise. That means they have marketing solutions. For example, if a prospect can’t afford your prices, it’s not the price that’s the problem — it’s the prospect.
That means you need better clients who can afford your fees, especially as your skills improve and your confidence grows, which it will, as you get more practice at both the copywriting and the pricing.
Do you have any questions about pricing your copywriting projects? Share with us in the comments.
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Thanks, Ilise. Cannot go wrong with that advise.