I just raised my prices by 50% and here is why:
Since I started working for myself I noticed a range of key issues when it comes to pricing which I call 'The Little and Large Syndrome'.
I have priced myself very cheaply from the start, raised prices and then lowered them and as such attracted every type of client. So what have I discovered?
First let's go to the cheap clients; the pro's are you are charging little so they should in theory, leave you alone and let you get on with it and not expect too much.
In contrast the little clients often see themselves as large clients. They money matters more because they are usually a one person or small business. They do not see the service you offer as being a low cost 'no frills' service.
Instead they fully expect you deliver the same quality as a top London agency.
Now move onto large clients:
In total contrast the large clients see what you do as part of a much bigger picture, they have a lot more on their plates to deal with and usually your contact for this type of work is a salaried person. They like coming into the office and 9.30am having coffee breaks, meetings and a working lunch but most of all they like going home to their family.
The issue is that large clients often do not see 'The little freelancer' because they are too busy working on low paid client jobs to make time for their own marketing.
I have had both issues in the past.
So what is the answer?
Well I decided to raise prices to my highest ever. For example my power page content is now going to be charged at £2000 and my social media management starts at £1000 per month.
The decision to do this has come after 16 months of price experimentation, monitoring time and understanding value. We have such limited time in our lives and producing quality work takes time.
So how does raising prices affect the little and large syndrome? Well in simple terms it is like boxing. When you box you are taught to throw your first shot hard, why? To make the opponent respect you.
Pricing is no different.
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I have no issues with washing cars for my living if I can make more money. But respect is a key issue from clients
Early this year, I started working on a very cheap project for creating ecommerce site for someone I know. I know the project was very cheap, but I wanted to start getting the initial projects in order to build a portfolio. I was able to finish this project but the guy was very demanding, constantly messaging me about different stuff even during night time, constant project delays because of the very little budget, even I decided to help him and contribute couple of hundred bucks to his project because I wanted to have a portfolio of at least one finished website.
Eventually, I told him that unless he is ready to sigh a contract worth at least couple of hundred bucks per month I am not going to continue working on the site because from my point of view the project was finished and I stopped communicating with him.
On the other hand, I was lucky enough to get my first real project few months ago, it is about redesigning the online presence of a local restaurant starting with their website. The price was high enough, but the client did not have any demands throughout the project and now the project is like 95% finished, I am just waiting for him to send me some resources. I guess this is also because he is a serious business person with multiple physical locations and doesnt have time for this.
So my goal is to have at least one more such project by the end of the year and focus strictly on getting more and more similar clients throughout 2017.
Irfan » Andrew
Great points. But don't you feel to be able to attract bigger clients one need to do much more than just raising the prices? I would love to know what else have you been doing to brand yourself and your agency for the bigger clients and how you are attracting them as well.
Hi Syed, to be honest I focus on local work has been key. I have been doing a lot of contact building there
When you say local work, that doesn't mean local SEO right?
If you charge a lower price, that is not the clients fault. You are expected to deliver what is promised, whether you charge high or low prices.
Andrew ✍️ » Vernon
I would have to disagree in part, and also agree. The issue I have found is that you can have a reality bubble issue. The client is expecting one thing, even when you have said you will deliver something else. I often put this down to a results issue. People paying for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/ content often expect results and to them those results might mean more income. I worked on a joint project with Irfan and Azzam which was just like that. Client paid for SEO, content and social media, client got 34,000 visitors in one month but client also didn't make any money. Why did they not make money? Could be a few things, poor product, poor site design, poor branding, wrong price point etc. I have due to past experiences really had to educate clients but behind that is a host of 'success' articles they read about SEO and this make people feel that they should get the same results if they hire a good SEO. So yes the client should get what they pay for and but very often their internal expectations are far higher no matter what you say. In these circumstances, you are setting yourself up for failure. The only option is to deliver a product and service that matches their expectations, but a cost that allows you do do this.
Ah, don't remind me about that project. I am still upset with that client lol.
It is true that when one utters the term 'SEO' it immediately lets many clients to assume that they will pay some bucks each month and within 2-3 months their site may get a million visitors and/or a million dollar revenue!
Yes and that narrative is tough to break. I heard Kim Garst talk about a DM podcast, the client says they 'get it', you ask them and tell them in detail and they again say 'they get it', but then they don't and even those that do really understand see the cheques going out of their bank account each month for this 'SEO' service they often lose faith and 'bottle' after a few months
True that. Check my PM 🙂
In my experience, business owners, directors and CEO's don't care about data and rankings. They just look at the turnover figures so as far as pricing is concerned, it has to be relative to the value you provide. I had a meeting this week with a company who invest just under £2m per year in digital marketing and they are happy to do so as that spend provides a good return. These sort of contracts don't fall on your lap every day though so in the normal world, business owners will start with a set budget and when you prove your worth to them, they will happily increase it. Myself being a freelancer, I work on a set rate of £50 per hour. I then agree a bonus structure on top of this based on goal levels. This works very well as my clients know I am going to do all I can to ensure their goals are met so I get my bonus. Like I say, it's all about the value.
Andrew I hear you. I have provided SEO services and I have been on the receiving end.
Just to give an even tilt on this. As a customer I believe in being strong and fair. If someone gives me an invoice I'll pay it in minutes if I can which is 90% of the time.
Some of the issues I've had from someone providing the service:
– Agreeing on an outcome and price, then the outcome being slightly more that what was agreed with the same amount of work. So the contractor asked for more money
– obvious decrease in attention to a campaign over time, slower to respond, slower getting tasks done, reduced delivery of results
– significantly increased the invoice amount and delivered a similar result each month
– originally promise from contractor quality links using short term work (STW) method or similar and slowly the links end up becoming guest posts
To name a few.
You'll never have a better customer than someone like me. But if you tell me you'll do something by a certain time I expect you to do it. And if you commit to a certain quality, delivery it. I will hold you to it.
I hold myself as a customer and a contractor to the highest levels. In my business we help anyone if they are a customer or not. Even if that means advising them they do not need to buy from us.
I can tell you now if I received the same level of service I'd be a customer for life!
Other than that it is all about ROI. So I will only pay for a service that will put money in my back pocket!
Then I'll happily pay whatever. Thousands! Millions even!! 🙈😳
This is exactly what I was talking about. I keep my customers for long term as I don't just deliver what I promise, but always exceed expectations. The longest being 13 years to date. I can totally relate to what you say Tim.
well done Mark. You should be proud of yourself! ☺️
I'm going to say I disagree. SEO alone does not provide money which is what happened on the project I worked on with Azzam and Irfan. You can increase rankings and get links and send a ton of traffic. But a crap site, product or service will always be that.
I have and do see a terrible inhumanity with SEO service purchasers and I have suffered things such as:
Client told results will take 6 months to be truly evident yet they say 'we will try it for a month or 2'
Clients sending over 30 messages a day with concerns and complaints (which were unfounded).
Cancelled outreach even though we did a weeks work, reason given 'no traffic increase or links after 1 week.
I could go on. Tbh a lot of this does stem from STW and other courses. People want the work being done but at a very affordable price
I did it all at the beginning, the full STW service only to have people say they wanted a page a month doing to saying 'Ill see how that one does'.
This is usually down to buyer remorse.
In addition I have seen another issue 'the hope pin'. Basically people desperately want a huge change in business fortunes and feel that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will do that.
What does annoy me is that clients might pay £1000 for a power page yet feel that gives the right to expect daily emails, discussions and messages. Yet should they not be replied to 'poor' communication is labelled.
I had a client message me 25 times on a Saturday I was with my kids in the cinema. I left and spent 45 minutes exchanging messages over image files.
in contrast a solicitor would have charged for that time.
Yet when you think you have a client who will come on board for 6 months you pull the stops out to keep them happy.
It took a solicitor friend to put my head on. He said he bills for phone calls from clients, he bills for meetings from clients and this is on top of his court service charges.
He charges £150 an hour. So a 15 minute phone call costs money, as does an email exchange.
Whilst I am not that strict I am getting that way. I refuse to answer client emails or messages on the weekend unless urgent.
What aggravates me with client's who constantly message or email is the narcissistic attitude they have, forgetting you have family, a life and other clients.
I have to thank Azzam for his words of wisdom during a stressful week. The client was moaning about content quality and they wanted 'this and that doing'. Azzam quite rightly said 'we are not full time staff, if they want greater content control they should hire in house writers'.
This applies to so many areas. For example if a client is told that SEO results will take 6 months to show, they say they will only hire you for 2 months. It kind of tells me straight away they are 'looking for faults'.
I blame a lot of this down to bad SEO service experiences.
But at the same time never have I seen an industry like SEO which clients pay a small amount and feel they have acquired fulltime staff.
in total contrast the clients I have had for over 16 months who give me zero grief are those who have enjoyed greater success and vastly more financial return.
Yep. I started with low prices ($300/mo for tiny local businesses) and find that they never grow beyond that. But they stick around if you don't mind the hand holding in the first few months. But the ones that grow in my area always start at a minimum of $500/mo, and my target is $1k/mo for my average clients now. I won't refuse a client that comes to me with a smaller budget (unless I think it won't work for the small budget), as long as they fit within what I need to operate.
I 100% agree with Andrew our experience has been the same. My problem is I have 0 tolerance for what I call "unproductive complaining" feedback. Just today, I had a "marketing coordinator" complain on one of the people in my crowdsource BC of his recent "ridiculous" tweets. They guy has a large number of followers and he is a professor at Harvard. Now she wants to pre-screen anyone we reach out to.
Bout to kick them to the curb.
yeah I do feel it is like once they pay, they seem they think they are the experts
Yeah – absolutely ridiculous. This girl is trying to tell me about link building and never heard about Ahrefs of a "backlink analysis tool" – dont hire me to fix your SEO then neuter me with your corporate BS
oh yeah feel your pain. But this goes back to a huge issue with salaried staff. Hate dealing with mini empire builders
my favorite is entrepreneurs with $$$$$ – founder types, small teams. not bootstrapped mom and pops and not mindless corporations.
Yes there is an SEO sweet spot. Another issue is conversion. You can drive all the traffic and rankings to a business but perhaps their site converts poorly. So what then? You either hire a conversion specialist or the SEO usually offers advice but this might mean a new website developing.
This is a tough sell.
'Hey guys your website sucks'.
It is an issue I am having right now with people I mentor (I am even redoing my own).
Conversion is a huge subject and people can pay up to £10,000 for a one page website.
When they do that and you pop along and say it looks nice but sucks for SEO and conversion you are rubbing against their reality bubble. This client friction can often cause you to lose a client before you have them.
So many people have this issue, they think digital marketing begins with a website and after paying a few k they start getting zero traffic. Then they ask their web designer about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it gets sold as an add on for £500 a month, then that doesn't work so they stop paying and maybe invest in social media but that doesn't work. So they head out to look for SEO and now they are with a white hat SEO specialist who says they need to invest at least £5,000 a month for 6 months.
This guy or girl has already spent over £10,000 in the last 16 months and now you are saying 'hey you just wasted 5,000 are crap SEO.
Well if you are £10k deep with no returns from digital already it is a huge leap of both faith and budget.
That is the tough spot so you can lie and say we can do it for £1000 a month but it will take a year and you will not make massive profits or you can be honest and tell them the truth. It is going to cost £5,000 and then you aren't certain but that is what it is. It is the toughest battle SEO's face, selling honestly and ethically imho
Personally, I never start an SEO campaign until I have proven that the site converts. If it's a new site, I simply run a mini Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign for the first month.
The reason being is that clients are only interested in generating new business or getting that phone ringing. Unless you can make that happen, clients will not be happy as they will see your fee as a waste of money. By making sure the site already converts well, you have half a chance of making that happen.
That's why creating your own content and showing your expertise and educating via podcasts, blog posts, fb groups etc is so important as really that is all the client has to go on to trust in your expertise. It's definitely a long term process but at least means when the client is ready they have way more realistic expectations
So true Dan
Great post! Been having this dilema for sometime. Charged a client at really cheap rate but the requirements they have are definitely over the price I charged them.
Simple solution. Always make sure your price is in line with the clients requirements, expectations and goals. Never price a job until you fully understand what the client expects.
Cause there are some freelancers charge very cheap but without producing good result. Clients only look at the price 🙁 I felt like client education is the challenging part for me. The case is worst when I'm accepting content marketing projects.
I turn down a lot of work each week because it's either not a good fit for me or they don't want to pay my rate. That is perfectly fine with me because I'd rather do that than make no profit. It is OK to turn work away.
I think I should learn how to reject those clients. Thanks for the advice!
Thanks, in a society fuelled by inflation the only way is up!
I started at $500 and tried to deliver the earth and was MISERABLE. Moved to a grand/mo and was scared of $1,500 until I finally did it a couple times and they were FAR and away my BEST clients. Now I am at 2k mo to work with me and don't feel bad a bit. My sweet spot is ten clients. I genuinely don't WANT more than that. At 8 right now. Life is so much easier the higher I go up.
I do local SEO and have a couple freelance developers I use if needed. We do it all for our clients. Site changes, links, citations, Google My Business (GMB), help w reviews, provide advice, take pictures you name it.