Do you remember the initial enthusiasm you felt (or are currently feeling) about turning your passion hobby into a creative business? I do! I quit the corporate finance world of black power suits and three-inch high-heels (goodbye bunions, hello entrepreneurship) and jumped into the startup world with an Atlanta based fashion designer …. well you can read all about that, here.
There were a lot of secrets to entrepreneurship I wish I had known before diving in head first but the one I realized immediately was this: In order to do what you love and actually get paid to work for yourself, you’re going to have to ask someone to buy it!
But alas, where to begin with pricing? Scour the internet to find similar businesses? Act like a fake client and inquire to get quotes to price compare? What is this work worth? What am I WORTH? I figured I wasn’t alone here so I reached out some other entrepreneurs to hear what they had to say!
▸ “Removing the emotional aspect. I’m so emotionally tied to my business, so when I make pricing adjustments my emotions are always in the way!” – Photographer
▸ “I thought pricing was about matching or beating other people in the industry offering similar services in order to get clients. I found out so fast that that’s not the way to go ever.” – Event Planner
▸ “I’m always concerned with what people will pay. I know if I price myself higher I’ll get more quality clients… but if I’m lower I’ll be more busy. The balance of those two is hard.” – Videographer
▸ “Sticker shock!” – Floral Designer
▸ “How do you put a price on something that you love to do or something that brings joy? Often I feel guilty charging for something that comes extremely easy. I’ve been drawing all my life so why now am I charging for it?” – Artist
▸ “The hardest thing about pricing my work is effectively showing my clients how much time their projects really take.” – Calligraphy + paper goods
▸ “The hardest thing about pricing my work has always been sticking to my guns once I’ve figured out all the numbers! I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why potential clients believe they can negotiate pricing on artwork (maybe we’ve taught them to?), but at the end of the day if I accept a job and already feel devalued because I lowered my pricing to accommodate a demanding client, the chances are pretty good that my relationship with that client will be strained from start to finish.” – Photographer
▸ “Weighing the time investment vs. the deliverables. I’m not always sure how to communicate that effectively, though, so clients understand that they are essentially buying my expertise…not necessarily a package of goods.” – Event Planner
▸ “I’m looking for the balance between pricing my time high enough to be profitable without pricing myself out of the work. Knowing how much people will pay for me, my time, and my knowledge is my struggle.” – Interior Designer
▸ “This is such a deep question. I think ultimately, the way you price your work is rooted in your confidence and experience level. In the past, I was quick to discount and bargain for a client’s business. However, as leads became more abundant and I started to realize the depth of time and work I was giving my clients, I gained the perspective and self-respect to charge what I knew I was worth.” – Event Planner
▸ “I sometimes worry that the number seems arbitrary and clients may think they aren’t getting enough bang for their buck.” – Event Planner
▸ “It is easy to feel guilty about charging a lot for something that you love and want to share. I have struggled with this over the years, and depending on different budgets, it can feel very frivolous to charge so much for something so temporary.” – Floral Designer
▸ “I realized that subconsciously I was sending out pricing while also sort of “apologizing” for being so expensive…I would immediately end the response with ‘but if this is a bit out of your price range, we can definitely negotiate.’ I was desperate for work and was so concerned about being turned away by possible clients! This immediately creates a spirit of shame on your work. Your future client senses instantly that you aren’t confident in your pricing to the point that you are sort of apologizing for it…which then leads to them question, ‘is it really “worth” this much to begin with?’, which then leads to clients starting to ask for a discount because they aren’t sure if they will get their money’s worth. Ugh…what a painful and exhausting process!” – Calligraphy + paper goods
▸ “The fear of pricing too high and losing customers versus the fear of pricing too low and not getting paid what I’m worth.” – Artist
▸ “The hardest thing about pricing my work has been figuring out what I’m actually worth and paying myself for my time. With photography I’ve had people tell me that I’m too expensive and others have said how affordable I am. There’s always the fear that no one will book me when I raise my prices.” – Photographer
▸ “The hardest thing for me about pricing my work is that (like all of us, I think), so much of my work comes naturally to me and is fun, so when I think about what I’m charging, I feel a little like a fraud.” – Brand Designer
▸ “confidence…feeling like my work is ‘worth it’.” – Artist
▸ “I’m afraid I’ve discounted so much my clients have come to expect it.” – Artist
▸ “the feeling that I should lower my prices to beat the competition and seal the deal …. when really I know that I offer so much more than the competition and should not be devaluing my work.” – Floral Designer
Worth is and will always feel subjective. Because “worth” is a feeling. Personally, it comes back to self-confidence and knowing our own worth. Professionally, It’s about educating the clients as we can only properly value something we understand.
When I first started my consulting company, and still today, “PRICE” is the #1 question I get from creative entrepreneurs. After realizing the biggest struggle often came down to calculating “worth”, I asked myself : “can we simplify the pricing conundrum by making price less about worth (taking out the emotions of it) and instead use an actual concrete calculation to determine price?”
This is your actual concrete material costs. Flowers, oasis, paint, canvas, film, printing .. The list goes on and on. What are you costs for each client/project/job?
Also a concrete number as long as you are tracking your time! TRACK YOUR TIME! Now, to be fair, understanding what your hourly rate should be is where it can get hairy but I always say start with a number you’d have to pay a freelancer to do the work if you could not show up!
Supply & Demand. Economics class anyone? Yes, demand increases price! Hopefully this number grows as your brand awareness grows and your skills improve! Increase price when more than 70% of people you meet with say “yes”. Read more about that here → How to charge what you’re worth!
I know we just scratched the surface here and pricing is a much more complex conversation. But when emotion is taken out of pricing and a concrete calculation is used instead you will book more ideal clients at higher price-points! Confidence is some sort of magic!
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