Raising our prices is how we can continue to move forward as freelancers, coaches, and creatives.
A brand new year is just ahead of us and if you’re starting to plan and project your income for 2016 you may have realised that to scale and grow your business in a way that is both profitable and fulfilling for you, now may be the right time to increase your prices for your services and offerings.
But raising our prices can be seriously scary stuff.
Every single time that I’ve raised mine I’ve spent sleepless nights wrestling with anxiety and fear with a voice in my head saying: who do you think you are to be charging that? But for a business to move forward, to make a profit, and to give you the freedom to thrive and grow within your work (because lowballing yourself usually will just lead to burn out, frustration, and overwhelm), regularly increasing your prices when your services are ready for it is an essential part of the job.
But of course, our services aren’t all about us and the money we want to make and the life we want to live. They’re about the people we’re here to serve and who trust us enough to invest in what it is we have to offer. So if you’re thinking about raising your prices for next year but you’re stuck in that place of fear and self-doubt, I have an exercise for you today to help you move forward, move past the fear, and build a plan of action that’s right for you, your clients, and your brand.
1. Why do you want to raise your prices?
Let’s get really honest with ourselves; why do you want to raise your prices?
- So you can take on less clients?
- So you can increase your income?
- Because you know you’re lowballing yourself?
- Because you feel like your expertise has grown and evolved?
- Because you want to attract clients in a different market?
- Because you want to be able to invest back into your business and professional self development?
- Because you’re booked out months in advance?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s good to be honest with yourself about why you want to raise your prices for next year. Once you know what’s motivating you, you can then start to make an informed, smart, and intentional decision about what to do next.
2. Why are you afraid of raising your prices?
Let’s dig into those fears: why are you afraid of raising your prices?
- That you’ll price yourself out of your target market?
- That potential clients will think you’re too expensive?
- That you’re not experienced enough yet to charge more?
- You’re not sure if you can justify the price increase?
- That there will be more pressure on you to deliver and delight once you increase your prices?
- That you’ll appear money hungry?
Here’s the thing about those fears: you're not alone. We all battle with them when we’re trying to decide how and when to increase our rates as creatives. But we’re feeling those fears for a reason; the only way to move forward is to explore them, see if they’re founded in any facts or truth, or whether it’s just imposter syndrome rearing its head and making us feel like we’re not good enough.
3. Write down 10 client results you’re proud of this year
One of the best ways to overcome those fears is to look at the facts. To feel good about raising your prices and to justify the price increase, look at what you’ve been able to help your clients achieve so far. Your rates are only worth as much as your results; if you’re a freelancer, coach, or creative who is showing up and delivering for your clients and doing stellar work for the people who are investing in you, that’s a sure sign that it could be the right time to raise those prices for 2016.
- Write down 10 client results that you’re proud of this year
- Get specific and see how those results align with the results that you have marketed your services on
- Explore any client engagements where the result went above and beyond what it is they invested in you for (this is a great way to see that your expertise has evolved and grown since you last priced your services)
4. Brainstorm 3-5 ways you can add more value to your client process next year
So you now may have started to realise that you have been absolutely killing it this year with your client work. Those fears of whether or not you’re ‘allowed’ to raise your prices are hopefully starting to fade away. But if you’re feeling a little deflated because you’ve not had the kind of client results you wanted to this year, the best thing to do is to explore your client process and see how you can improve add more value to it for the year ahead. And if you’re already killing it with client results? This is a great way to add even more value to your process and delight your clients even more along the way.
- If you’re not happy with your client results: where are things going wrong? Is it your positioning and the type of clients you’re attracting? Is it your marketing and the expectations you’re setting? Is it the way you’re selling and the type of client relationships you’re cultivating? Is it your process? Your method? The tools you’re using? Is it the services themselves?
- Brainstorm 3-5 ways you can add more value to your client process in 2016. Is it by expanding your own knowledge and expertise? Investing in more tools to streamline and enable the process? Refocusing your services to better suit your client needs?
- If you’re struggling to brainstorm ideas, look back over your client workload this year and think of the times you’ve gone above and beyond for your clients in a way that has been really effective; how can you turn this into a more permanent feature in your process?
5. Ask your current clients
Even if you know your work is good, that your process is solid, and that your current and past clients are crazy delighted and excited about the work you’ve done together, it can still be scary and overwhelming to start the ball rolling when it comes to raising your prices and rates. Self-doubt can start to kick in, and you can convince yourself that you’re just good enough or that no one will respect and trust your expertise enough to invest in you at a higher rate.
A good way to research the market at this stage is to ask your current clients. After battling for weeks while trying to decide whether to raise my prices for 2016 and how much to raise them to, I knew 100% it was the right time to do so when numerous clients of mine told me that I’m just too cheap. When the people who have already invested in you tell you that you should be charging more, and when they tell you that they would pay more to work with you, that’s when you know it’s time to make it happen.
- Talk with your current clients about your potential new prices, or ask them how much more they would have been willing to pay to work with you; the answers will probably surprise you
- This is also a great opportunity to prepare your clients in advance for the price increase, and to give them the option to work with you again in 2016 at your current rates while they still can
6. And when you’re ready to raise them...
When you’re ready to raise those prices, the next step is to move forward and actually make it happen. Digging into your figures can be the tough part; how much is too much? how much is too little? A good thing to keep in mind is that this doesn’t have to be final; you can continue to raise your prices each quarter or as and when your expertise grows and you get booked out in advance. So don’t feel the pressure to 10x your rates straight away. Deep down, you will know what’s right for you, your clients, and your brand. The best advice I have for pricing yourself is this:
- Make it a win-win for both you and your clients; they need to feel like they’re getting what they paid for, and you need to feel like you’re getting paid enough for the work you’re showing up and doing. Don’t lowball them on results, and don’t lowball yourself on getting paid
- Another great way to approach it is to set a financial goal for client work for the year ahead and break down how many clients your schedule and lifestyle enables you to work with next year. Work backwards from there; see how much that financial goal breaks down into when you divide it by the amount of clients you want to work with, and that play around with that amount until it’s something that feels good in your gut
Once you know your new prices and rates, all that’s left to do is set a date for the increase and prepare your business, clients, and community for the changes to come. Some ways to do this are:
- Update your payment plan options and your invoicing tools to enable this
- Let your current clients know in advance and let them know how raising your rates/prices will also increase the value of your services too
- Let your community and prospective clients know; follow up with any current open leads so they know a change is coming, and inform your online community so they can get access to your current rates while they still can
Some final things to note:
- The more you lowball yourself, the more you’re telling the world that you don’t believe in the value of your work
- Everyone starts somewhere, so it’s okay to start small and increase as you go - just don’t get stuck in a cycle of continuing to price low because you don’t think you’re worthy of charging more yet
- Price on value; clients are buying results, transformation, and an experience. They’re very rarely buying your time; they’re investing in your expertise instead. Price on the value of your expertise, knowledge, and process, instead of on the value of your time.
- Money mindset struggles are a real thing; I see so many of my clients battle with this each week. If your money fears go way deeper than the things we’ve talked about today, I’d definitely encourage you to dig into them deeper with a mentor, friend, mastermind, or coach who can help you move forward and tackle them head on.
So let me know below: are you raising your prices for 2016? What’s the why behind your increase? How are you moving past the fear?