One of the main problems we found after setting up business as ‘creatives’ is finding your self worth. And I’m not talking about meditating in the lotus position while listening to whale song – rather knowing how much to charge our clients.
The problem can be explained simply. If, for example, we made dining tables. Someone would ask us for a table, a few weeks later we would make them a table and present them with a table and a bill. They would have a big shiny table that clearly showed the materials used, our skills and how hard we’ve worked.
However if someone asks us for rebranding ideas we would agree a deadline then give them a presentation outlining the route we think the company should take for their look and feel along with some logo and strap line ideas among other things. If they didn’t want us to present it face to face, it’s a couple of electronic files in an email.
How much is that worth?
Despite it sometimes appearing so, we don’t just throw things together. We’d question the company on what they wanted the branding to represent, what potential clients they want to appeal to and if they particularly like or dislike anything their competition are doing.
We then research the industry, what works, what doesn’t work? Where is the company based? Is the appeal to be local or broader?
Then we start the technical side, brainstorming and coming up with suitable ideas, sorting the wheat from the chaff before it’s presented. Making sure we are proud of what we give to the client.
But it’s potentially ‘still’ just a couple of files on an email.
At first we were almost apologetic when presenting an invoice. A lack of confidence in our abilities? Possibly. Trying too hard to keep prices down? Probably. But bills have to be paid.
It actually took a free session with a ‘business coach’ to open our eyes a bit (we won it from a competition at our bank!). We were asked what our most valuable assets are. And it’s simple. Our creativity, experience and time. So why weren’t we charging properly for it?
We set up a price list for general work. An hourly rate for regular work. And we stuck to it. Of course we still amend prices slightly for different clients. A start up sole trader isn’t charged as much as a multinational – in general it takes a lot longer to get things sorted for bigger firms and we also do our best to keep costs down for new businesses. We’re ever so kind. But again, bills have to be paid.
Most people, there will always be exceptions, aren’t afraid to pay for quality work. Be open with your fees. Offer good value.
So without wishing to sound like an inspirational meme with sunny fields and an attractive couple running in floaty clothing – the lesson is simple. Know your worth. Charge accordingly. Be confident in your abilities. And good luck.