3. Money

Listen here:

I love talking about money. And I’m hoping you do too. Because that’s why you’re here, really, isn’t it? Because you want to earn decent money from one-to-one clients. Yes, I’m sure you believe in what you’re doing and want to make a difference, but you want to be paid for it.

So, how much should you charge?

What you should charge

There are three important considerations when it comes to pricing up your one-to-one sessions/packages…

  1. What are others charging? (Aka: market research)
  2. What do you want to charge? (Based on your experience, and where you’d like to sit in the market)
  3. What price feels right? (What’s your intuition saying?)

Market research

Nowadays, lots of people do have their pricing visible on their websites. This is handy for market research purposes. So if you offer business coaching for creatives, you can google that and you’ll see the top-ranking coaches in this arena. Check out what they’re charging.

How does that look to you? Does it feel right? Too low/high? Check as many as you can, as you may also get ideas for how to package up your services. I wouldn’t recommend outright ‘copying’ but collecting ideas from different websites is fine.

If you can get three-five examples of packages and their costs – the lower value services, as well as the top end – this should start to give you ideas about where you want to sit. Leading on to…

What you’d like to charge

You might have your eye on top earners as your target clients. If so, perhaps you can afford to charge more. Equally, you may want your service to be more widely accessible in which case, you’ll want to offer a lower fee.

Remember that you can always increase your fees. So if you go with your instinct and price yourself lower or middle-range, this can be adjusted up once you are easily signing up clients and getting great testimonials.

For copywriting work, when I first offered this as a service, I was charging £150 a day. This went up to £250 the following year. And then £500 two years later. I now charge £1000 for a day’s work.

But as I said earlier: I don’t really commit to one-off full days any more.

I tend to charge by the hour for consultancy, and my fee is usually £250-£500.

If I’m contacted by someone and I get an off feeling about them, I always double it, though. I think: I’m not sure I want to work with this person, I feel they may be trouble, but if I get £500 for an hour’s work? It will be worth a bit of hassle.

What price feels right?

Some people find the idea of ‘going with your intuition’ quite difficult. After all, we don’t always know what our ‘gut’ is saying. And even if we know what feels instinctively right, how can we trust that it will work when we put it out there?

When I was launching The Robora, I didn’t want to go in too high. I was going to charge £1000 for a year. But I realised that was way too low. Then I decided the package would be four months. And £300 a month felt right.

I phoned my dad and said: I’m launching a four-month package, where I review their website and social media, create a work plan and then we stay in contact via email. They can ask me questions Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm. What should I charge?

He said: £300 a month.

So that was easy.

But I soon realised that actually, for the amount of hours I was putting in, I’d undercharged. That was fine, as it was the first time I’d run it. And we learn as we go. But I know that next time it will be £3750 for three months, with shorter email consultancy hours (Tuesday-Thursday, 10am-2pm).

I’m sharing this story as an example of me starting a new project, having an idea about the price that felt right but asking for external reassurance. And I got it. Now I have that one under my belt, I will feel more confident moving forward in terms of pricing a similar package.

You might undercharge. You might overcharge. But it doesn’t matter. If a price feels good to you, try it. And you can always change it down the line. But give it a chance (ie. if you launch a service and no one buys it on the first day, don’t cut the price in half. Keep it there a while longer).

If you have no idea on what the price should be, you could try this exercise.

Intuitive pricing

  • Get a notepad and pen.
  • Write the name of your package on a blank page.
  • Bullet point what’s included in the package.
  • Can you put a price on each element?
  • If yes, do that, add it up and then reduce it to create a nice round number for the package.
  • Does that feel right?
  • Should the number end with a 0, 7, 9, 5, 3 – what feels right for you?
  • Try them all: write it out, say it out loud.

If you’re just not sure (and it can be hard to trust your intuition if you’re feeling a bit low in confidence), here’s an exercise designed to remind you that you do, in fact, have intuition when it comes to decision-making.

Sensory exercise: Colour play

This exercise was designed by Lauren Davies (@heka_london) – designer, researcher, consultant and sensory expert. Lauren works with freelancers, small businesses and major brands – sharing ideas for innovating, staying ahead of the curve and engaging all the senses.

Lauren’s words:

Engaging your senses is a really wonderful way to activate and train your intuition, which in turn helps to build self-confidence.

One way to tap into intuition is by feeding your imagination.

This simple collage exercise uses materials that most people should have lying around. There is no right or wrong, just personal choice.

Collage is a way of collecting, ordering and arranging subconscious thoughts and motivations. It encourages resourcefulness and decision-making.

You will need:

  • An old magazine or newspaper you don’t mind cutting up.
  • If you have neither of these then some leaflets, junk mail or food packaging will work.
  • A pair of scissors
  • A pritt stick or some glue
  • A piece of plain paper (can be coloured or white, you choose)
  1. Go through your magazine/ephemera and find a page with colour you are drawn to. It could be a plain colour­. It may have a bit of texture or pattern. Your choice. Cut out the area of colour and put it to one side. Then return to the magazine and find another colour you are drawn to, or you think would work with the first colour and cut out this area of colour too. Continue to do this until you have a nice selection of cut-outs. For some this may be three, for others 15-20 or more. You decide when to stop.
  2. Take your paper and start making arrangements of the cut-outs until you find something you find visually pleasing. You may make arrangements based on colour, or shape, or size. Or perhaps you have another motivation? As you arrange, ask yourself, is there anything that is jarring? Anything that doesn’t belong? If so, feel free to remove that element, make it smaller, change its shape. Similarly, if you feel something is missing – feel free to return to your magazines to find something that will bring your composition together.
  3. Once you are happy. Glue all the pieces down. You now have a visual record of how you have used your intuition to guide you!

———

When so many of us are glued to our screens all day, it can really help to move away and do a creative exercise with our hands. It always gives me new perspective when I use a different part of my brain for a while.

However, if you find Lauren’s creative exercise hard the first time, you can try again another day. This is all about the idea of ‘training’ your intuition and therefore it may take time to get used to trusting yourself.

You need to feel like you’re not under pressure.

So do it whenever it feels right.

And remember not to worry about what others think but instead to go with what springs to mind first.

Once you’re feeling attuned with your intuition, you might like to return to the pricing.

What number comes to mind now?

Go with that.

Get some feedback

And if you feel you’d like some reassurance, why not ask the Facebook group for this course or on your social media accounts – to see what others think.

Remember to be clear on who the package is aimed at.

In general, I’d ignore the people saying it’s overpriced and listen to the people who say it’s underpriced.

Workload

I mentioned earlier that for the first launch of The Robora programme, I created a schedule that meant a lot of the really heavy work (reviewing websites and social media bios) was at the start. I committed to a few hours per person to complete this exercise in the first week.

When it didn’t work out with a couple of the women, it was tricky to decide what would be a fair fee to end on. They’d contractually agreed to pay the full fee – in monthly instalments – but I didn’t want to continue taking their money and not working with them.

Especially as this was at the start of lockdown.

For two of them, we agreed that they’d pay for two months’ work, although they were leaving the programme after the first month. That felt fair for the hours I’d already put in. And for one, I gave a full refund and asked her to leave. Because it just wasn’t working for me.

Next time, I will take the fee upfront and won’t offer monthly instalments. Then I can work hard without wondering what I’ll do if they want to stop working together.

Also, I’ll vet people before they sign up so that I end up with the right clients for me – people who know what they’ll get out of the programme if they commit their time and energy to it.

Collecting the money

I charge up-front for all the client work I do. Because I got fed up with chasing. My mentality is: if you’d like to work with me, you can pay to secure the slot. And I’m always happy to pay others up-front for their services.

I pay my VA (virtual assistant) a month in advance, which means she is always paid by me – and her other clients – for the work she does. I have paid for photography shoots ahead to secure a booking. Coaching. It’s common practice and it protects you, financially.

There are different options, in terms of collecting fees (upfront or otherwise).

  1. Raise an invoice, and ask for a BACS transfer of the funds. This is good for you, as you won’t be charged a fee. But harder for the client who has to have their bank details to hand.
  2. Create an invoice in Paypal. This can be sent to your client directly from Paypal to their email. It’s easier for them, as they just login to their Paypal account to pay – most people have one. But you’ll pay a fee to Paypal.
  3. If you use Xero or Quickbooks or another accounting system, you can also create invoices through them and it means it will all be logged directly, so you won’t need to do it manually.

Protect yourself

If you haven’t already got a contract to send clients to sign before you start working together, get one. There are templates online (like these) or you can pay an employment lawyer like Ingrid Fernandez to create a custom contract.

Now that all my one-to-one work is through The Robora, I have terms and conditions (that Ingrid created for me) on my website. When someone purchases my courses or one-to-one service through the website, they are agreeing to the T&Cs.