In Part 1, I shared with you six reasons you should stop hiding your freelance prices. Sharing your price guide with clients has real benefits, from helping clients understand what they get for their money to giving you more confidence in handling dreaded “money conversations."
Today, I want to talk about seven best practices to posting your freelance prices on your website. It’s not just a matter of saying, “Hey, I charge $75 an hour!” and waiting for your phone to ring. While I’m advocating for greater transparency, I also believe it should be done strategically so that you and the client benefit mutually.
1.) Price using flat fees.
Pricing by the hour is problematic for both you and the client for a number of reasons. But the most mutual one is that it automatically puts you and your client at odds.
When you charge hourly, you want to bill as many as reasonable, and the client wants you to bill as few as possible. That forces the client to manage your time and puts you in a subservient position, which makes it hard for them to see you as a partner and value-provider. (To foster long-term relationships with your clients, you both should at least feel like you're on equal footing.)
The solution? Create a pricing guide that lists your services and provides an estimated flat fee ballpark for each.
2.) Qualify your prices.
Explain (either on your website or in the pricing guide itself) that the prices are estimates based on standard project scope (which you may want to include in a brief description, like "Case Study: research, interview (up to 30 minutes), writing, two rounds of revisions") and standard timing (which means no crazy turnaround that would cause you to upcharge for rush fees).
Also explain your prices are subject to change. That way a client doesn't come to you with a price list from three years ago and expect you to honor it. This puts your pricing into context so clients see it as a guide instead of a menu.
3.) Offer a free consultation to provide an accurate estimate.
Your pricing guide doesn't supplant the need to estimate each project individually. Make sure your guide (or your website) offers clients a no-cost, no-obligation chance to consult with you so you can accurately estimate the project's true cost.
4.) House your pricing guide on the second or third level of your website.
Placing your pricing guide on the first level of your website may increase the attention it receives, but it's better to place it a little further down in your site where truly interested prospects will run across it. I recommend placing it strategically on second- or third-level pages where prospective clients are likely to go, such as your "Work with Me" page. This is not to make it hard to find, but rather to qualify people by requiring them to have enough interest to get to a specific page where they are rewarded with access to your pricing.
5.) Gate your price list.
When you make your price guide available, do so in exchange for the interested party’s name and email address. It helps weed out looky-loos (because they think there’s a chance you might be reviewing who’s downloading your price guide). But more importantly, you start to build an email list of potential clients interested enough to download your prices…which means you can start reaching out directly to them. Even if they’re dragging their feet on starting a conversation with you, YOU have the freedom to stay in touch (and stay on their radar) until they’re ready.
6.) Update your price guide regularly.
Don’t let your price list languish on your website. Remember to at least update it annually (sooner if you’ve landed projects paying you more than you’ve listed, or if you’ve significantly increased your skill set for a particular project or area).
7.) Communicate your value.
Make sure your website's messaging has your ideal client in its crosshairs. This means honing your value proposition (who you serve and how you help them) and communicating it clearly. This is what will drive interest in your services in the first place, encouraging prospective clients to dig deeper and pre-sell them on hiring you.
This also provides context for your price guide. When prospects finally get a peek at your prices, they'll evaluate it keeping your expertise and value in mind.
One final note: When I talk about this, I sometimes get, “Won’t competitors will undercut me if they can see how much I charge?” If you’re worried about this, don’t be. If a competitor downloads your price list, it’s because they need guidance setting their own prices. And if they need that, they likely have fewer skills and less experience than you. (Nothing wrong with that, of course--we all started somewhere.)
First, when a competitor charges less than you, they stop being your direct competition. That’s because their prices communicate they have fewer skills and less experience than you. So, clients actively seeking someone at your skill level are less likely to be attracted to less experienced freelancers even with the cost savings.
Second, if a competitor with a similar skill set to yours opts to charge less, the savings would have to be significant to turn your clients’ heads. I don’t know a lot of clients (unless you’re working with solopreneurs or very small companies who have to be extremely cost-conscious) who, when sold on one freelancer, would choose another for less than $500. And the bigger the client, the bigger the gap. Frankly, it's rare that freelancers opt to undercut (freelancers tend to be an honorable lot), but if they do, they damage their own reputation and earning potential, making their freelance life short-lived.
What if they decide to mirror your prices? This is where having your ideal client and value prop dialed pay off. Communicating how well you understand your ideal client's problems--as they relate to your services--powerfully differentiates you and convinces prospective clients you have the skills it takes to help them. But also remember: the more freelancers start to come together around price points, the more clients will learn what good content costs, helping shape their expectations so it's not all on your shoulders.
Bottom line? To maximize your pricing transparency, make sure you understand your ideal client and are communicating clearly how you help them. Then when you put your prices out there for clients (and potentially the competition) to see, you’ll already have set yourself apart as the expert you are.