(Guest writer: Bamidele Onibalusi)
If you’re a freelancer, you are probably getting paid much less than you’re worth for the following reasons.
One, you are influenced by what your competitors are charging – why charge $1500 for that web design project that everybody else is charging $600 for? Two, you are afraid clients won’t pay your rates. Three, you are competing with a sea of "professionals" who will happily charge one-tenth of what you’re supposed to charge.
Good news is, no matter your reasons for charging low, you could be getting paid double, triple, or more. Here are some tips to help you.
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1. Upgrade Your Belief in Yourself
If you find it difficult to convince yourself that your service is worth a premium, nothing can be done to help you get paid what you are worth.
This first step is often the most difficult and everything else becomes easy once you get it right: make sure you believe strongly in the value you’re offering to your clients.
If you are a freelance designer, start thinking about how your client will benefit from your design for the next 1-2 years; your design will probably help your client make back 50 to 100 times what they are paying you. If that is the case, why not double your rates?
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You should also look at the top people in your field to see what they are doing right as well as how confidently they are charging what they’re worth; you will be surprised that they are easily charging 10 to 50 times more than what you are charging.
Motivating yourself by studying these people and their experiences will surely go a long way to help you solidify your belief in yourself.
2. Have a Clear Unique Selling Point
If you are "just another web designer" or "a top WordPress designer," then, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, no one will pay what you deserve. Almost everybody is "just another web designer" or a "top WordPress designer," so it will be very difficult to convince your clients to pay you a premium if that’s how you position yourself.
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Have a clear unique selling point (USP) that helps your client realize that they are getting a service that they can’t get anywhere else. Your USP could be about your approach, the kind of clients you work with, the kind of clients you actively send away, the niche you work in, etc.
Having a USP will send some clients away, and that’s a good thing; you are carefully repelling the clients you don’t want, who probably won’t pay what you are worth so that you can get clients that will value what you have to offer.
For a detailed guide on finding your USP, this article is a must-read.
3. Values in Premium Service
When it comes to selling your services, there are two kinds of value you can offer to a client. They are:
- Inherent value: the main value in your offer; what will result in long-term results for your clients (essentially the quality and effectiveness of your work).
- Perceived value: the value your client believes/feels they will be getting; the reason for hiring you
Perceived value is not necessarily inherent value but it is often just as important. No client will hire you without feeling strongly about the perceived value of your product. Besides making sure your service can stand the test of time, you also need to make sure your client is convinced they will be getting a premium service (perceived value), otherwise, you would have little luck closing deals with clients.
No matter how great the value of your services, if your client won’t feel like they’re getting a deal, it would be difficult to get them to work with you.
How to Increase Perceived Value
1. Increase your prices
Double it, triple it, whatever. Just increase it. Increasing the price of a product or service has been psychologically proven to increase its perceived value.
In a study where subjects were asked to taste the same wine but were made to believe that one is worth $5 and the other is worth $45, they reported more satisfaction after tasting the $45 wine. It had nothing really to do with the quality of the wine; they just felt that they were getting premium wine.
So, want to make clients feel that you offer a premium service? Charge a premium rate!
2. Offer exceptional support
This will make a client feel that they’re not just buying your service but they also feel that they’re buying you.
Offering exceptional support even before you close a deal with a client can go a long way to convince the client that your service is worth a premium.
3. Use Social Proof
When potential clients see that a lot of people are using your services, they feel it is worth a premium.
You could use just one of the above 3 principles and still get great results. However, if you can combine all 3 you’ll be surprised at the results you’ll get.
4. Attract Your Clients the Right Way
When you are bidding for clients on sites like oDesk or Elance, where the average hourly rate for writers and designers is around $10, you can’t expect to get away with charging $80 per hour no matter what you do.
It will simply be difficult to convince your client that you are offering more value than the 20 other writers who want to charge a fraction of your rates.
This is why you should be careful with how you get clients; if you are getting them on bidding sites or by competing with dozens of other freelancers, they already have lots of potential candidates to choose from, it will be difficult convincing them to choose you and pay your "heavy" rates.
Instead, take charge of how you attract your clients. I favor an approach where I get a client to come to me instead of having to seek out the client.
Basically, this can involve having a website or blog and then advertising your services in one way or the other – it could be via social media, PPC, or by appearing regularly on authoritative blogs in your niche.
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My suggestion is to build a blog about the type of service you offer, regularly publish content on it, showcase case studies in your niche, and appear on relevant blogs to contribute value while promoting your brand.
5. Sell Value, not Money
Your clients are making a business decision and as a result, they do not care about the money they are spending but about the value they are getting by spending that money.
If a client pays $500 for your design and makes $2,000 back in one year, that is an ROI of 400%. If a client pays $2,000 for your web design and makes $100,000 back as a result in one year that is an ROI of 5,000%. In this case, your client would be willing to spend $2,000 instead of $500.
The key to closing deals isn’t to tell your client how much they will be saving if they pay your rates but to tell them how much they will be making. To most real clients, it probably won’t make much of a difference to spend $2,000 instead of $500 but it will make a lot of difference to make a profit of $98,000 instead of a profit of $1,500.
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This is what you should use to convince clients to pay your rates. If possible, look for relevant case studies from past clients who have gotten great ROI from using your services. Use these case studies to convince your clients to pay your rates.
Your clients won’t come and hand you what you deserve and your market won’t determine a fair price for your work. Instead, use the above tips to get clients to pay you what you are worth.
(This guest post is written by Bamidele Onibalusi for Hongkiat.com. Bamidele is a blogger, freelance writer, and the founder of WritersinCharge.com.)