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EPISODE 24: Price Yourself for Success

by Mar 9, 2021Podcast, Writers

In this episode we will cover:

  • Pricing-first vs. income-first models
  • Rejecting the “starving artist” narrative
  • Benefits of re-evaluating your pricing structure
  • Specific steps to follow to price yourself for success

If you’re in a creative field, you’ve probably heard the “starving artist” warning before. 

You know how it goes: you tell someone you’re a writer, and they respond with something like, “Ok, but what’s your real job? How do you actually make money?”

And honestly? You’ve probably wondered at some point how you’re going to make money too. Setting your own prices for writing services is confusing. There isn’t a set “going rate” for writing projects, and all writers don’t even use the same approach to pricing. They might charge by the word, or by the hour, or by the project.

With all that discrepancy, it’s hard to know where to start. And that’s not even getting into the other problem: that you might be scared to ask for a certain amount. 

Unfortunately, society places a huge value on content… but a relatively low value on content creators. And hearing people undervalue your career and your skills over and over again takes its toll. You start believing you can’t make a living writing. That content creation isn’t worth charging sustainable rates for, and by choosing this path you’re relegating yourself to that “starving artist” role.

But we’re here to tell you your work DOES have value. You CAN be a writer and make money, but you have to set yourself up to succeed. And we can teach you how to do it.

 

How to Price Yourself for Success

If there’s no universal “going rate” for writing projects, and there’s no one right way to charge for your services, how the heck do you actually go about pricing yourself for success? 

 

Start with these key steps:

  1. Figure out your personal ROI for content. In other words, what do YOU want out of your projects {not just what your client wants}? Are you looking for portfolio pieces? To hit a revenue goal? To gain case studies?
  2. Know your pricing system. If you have to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new project, you’re wasting valuable time.
  3. Set expectations upfront {on your website and/or during your sales call}. What can the client expect you to deliver? In how much time? How many revisions are allowed, and what time frame do they need to take place in?
  4. Be honest with yourself about your income goals — and what it will take to achieve them. If your goal income dramatically outpaces your prices and labor potential, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Make sure you do the math!
  5. Track data and update your pricing regularly. It’s great if you hold onto a client for years and years… but if you’re charging someone the same rate as 5 years ago, you’re probably not getting your money’s worth.
  6. Be upfront about pricing changes. If you adjust your prices, your clients need to know. And if anyone gives you a tough time about your prices, consider not working with them. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

 

And finally, always believe in your own value and the value of your work. Remember, this job only exists because there’s a real need for it. Your work is valuable, and so are you. You’re allowed to price yourself to reflect that value.

 

Additional content referenced in this episode includes:

Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Brand Your Voice podcast episode 20: Upholding Boundaries as a Content Creator

 

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi…

Marie:
…and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
Alright? Welcome to our next episode in a series that we are doing for writers, content, creators, freelance writers, those of you who are actively creating content for yourself and for your clients. This episode, we are going to be talking about one of our favorite topics, which is pricing yourself for success. Before we dive in, though, quick reminder to those of you who may not fall into the content creator bucket that this can apply to everyone in that it's important for you to know what is top of mind for your writers, for your content creators. And you may even be able to find a couple of nuggets of wisdom here that will help serve you in your own business. But the bulk of this episode, we are going to be speaking directly to those writers out there who are looking to establish grow, and really enjoy a sustainable business model while doing what they love: more writing.

Marie:
Yeah. And we really struggled with this for a long time. And sometimes we still struggle with it to be honest. In fact, literally one business day ago, we were just having a meeting with a mentor and talking about, you know, some operational efficiency stuff. And she was like, are you sure your pricing is right? Like maybe you need to charge more. So like, this is still something we're working with, right. But I remember early, early on in the days of our company before we were Northstar back when we were still Owl Eyes. I remember actually being at your house, Jessi, and we were sitting cross-legged I think we were like on your bed hunched over our computers, trying to research, like, what is the going rate for blog posts? What's the going rate for whatever, you know, everything that we wanted to write and, and just like desperately trying to find that so that we could have quote unquote fair pricing, and be competitive with the market and that sort of pricing first being like the first thing we figured out mindset was something that we held onto for a long time.

Jessi:
Yeah. And, you know, it's sort of a futile exercise to try and find what the fair rate is for different types of writing. You look on, you know, you look at the different resources out there, and there are people who charge hourly. There are people who charge based on the project. There are people who charge based on the word. There are people who charge differently for writing versus editing versus revising. And that was true, you know, a decade ago. And it's true today, I'm in a number of copywriting Facebook groups and communities. And one of the most frequent questions that I see pop up in those groups is, Hey, I have this project and it's a little bit outside of my normal type of project, and I have no idea how to price it. What would you do? How do you approach these projects? So it's something that remains a little bit amorphous, I think for writers, regardless of whether you're brand new or you've been in the game for a little while and maybe you're switching things up a little bit. So I don't think it's unusual to be where we were sitting on the bed, agonizing over pricing. And I think there's a way to kind of set yourself up for success so that it isn't quite as agonizing because that first time on the bed, that was not the first time we agonized over prices.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. And it wasn't the last either. In fact, I remember recently we dug out of our old archives as we were going through some, you know, Google drive cleanup. We found our original pricing sheet or at least an early one. And I remember it was like $25 per blog post. And I'm not going to say there's anything wrong with that for you or for anyone, especially if you're working on building a resume, or you're testing out a new service or whatever. But let's just say that when we calculated that versus the number of hours we spent working on said blog posts, I mean, we were making probably less than half of minimum wage. And so it wasn't working for us, in fact, too, I remember early on one of the biggest types of, or like most frequent types of projects we did, were writing resumes.
We would, you know, kind of interview and get to know our client. So they understood their background, their professional background and all that kind of stuff. And then we would write a resume up for them and we charged $50 for it. And I remember one woman, you know, we sent her the invoice after we were done. That's another thing is when you send the invoice by the way, but that may be a topic for another episode. We sent the invoice and she wrote back and was like, no, I'm going to give you a hundred dollars. And we're like, Oh, maybe we were undercharging for that. Obviously she found a lot of value from it.

Jessi:
Yeah. I think, you know, sometimes you don't know your own misinterpretation of what you can charge. You're sort of testing out a market. You might be testing out a new audience. You might be scared to ask for a certain amount. I remember the first time we sent a proposal for something that was over $10,000. And I think like both of us were huddled in the corner, biting our nails, like, Oh God, are they going to think we're totally like, you know, not respecting what they can invest in something. And then, you know, and the truth was it was our mindset that needed to shift. And to recognize that actually the ROI of what we're providing really does garner these prices for certain projects. Not every project falls into that range projects fall into different costs based on what we have decided is fitting for our goals.

Marie:
But I also remember having that like stomach twisting feeling when we charged over $300 the first time. And when we charged a thousand dollars the first time, and here, please hear us. We're not just telling you to continue raising your prices forever. There's a reason that $10,000 project was a $10,000 project. It's not like we were charging $10,000 for one blog post. It was going to be months of deep work and lots of beneficial products. I mean, products, I mean a deliverables for that client at the end of the day. So, you know, the projects scale with the prices.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I think, you know, you mentioned pricing first model earlier, Marie, and I think that this is a really important point when it comes to pricing is really understanding what you want to get out of your writing career. So if you are a writer, do you want that to be your full-time career? Is that what you want to spend all of your time doing? And if the answer is, yes, well you need to be able to sustain yourself from that career then. And so this is where you can serve, shifting your way of thinking to, well, if that's true, how much do I have to make? And therefore how much do I have to charge? This is a trap that we fell into early on, and even not so early on, even like a few years into our business where we had a very successful service and it was, it was writing website copy.
And for a while, what we realized was a lower price, partially because we were building up testimonials and case studies. And we wanted to have people who could speak to the positive experience, but then we never raised the price. And so we sat down one day to see, okay, what do we want to make as far as revenue this year? And what do we want to make as far as our own personal income this year? And if we do that, how many of these website copy projects do we need? And when we did the math, we realized that the number of website copy projects that we would need to have in the door to hit our revenue goals were unrealistic. They were, it was more than we were physically capable of writing.

Marie:
And not only that, like the number of new leads you'd constantly have to have in the business was an unprecedented number for us.

Jessi:
Right? So it didn't make sense at our current pricing, we would not have been able to hit our goals. And so what we had to do was we had to go back to the drawing board and say, okay, well, either we change what we want as far as our revenue, we adjust the pricing on this service, which is our primary service, or we find other revenue streams to introduce into the business. But regardless, something has to change around how we're pricing ourselves.

Marie:
Yeah. And I think we felt good about raising the price on that because we had done so many and so successfully at that point that we knew that our expertise was continuing to grow. Our experience was continuing to grow and we were not having any trouble really converting the sales calls that we did have into clients. So we knew that the price point wasn't agonizing for anybody. It wasn't the thing that was stopping anyone from moving forward. So there were a lot of reasons why it made sense to increase the price. And by the way, when you increase the price, you don't always have to add more stuff to it, just letting you know, just in case, because I've been there and like, Oh, we're raising the price a hundred dollars. Well, then I should add a hundred dollars more stuff.

Jessi:
That doesn't actually solve the problem.

Marie:
You actually can think of it like your own currency, right? Like the currency of the nation of you. And sometimes the conversion rate is higher and sometimes it's slower, right? Like if it's something that you've never really done before, you know, you're going to be, you can kind of... the currency is worth a little less, right? So you charge a little less. But when you have a lot of expertise at something and you have people, you know, signing up practically ready to send it for a wait or even literally signing up for a wait list to do it and lining up at the door, or you just feel really solid in your ability. It's all of a sudden, you know, that currency goes farther and you can charge more for it. Like those hours essentially are kind of worth more. That is one way you could approach it. It's not saying that's the only way.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I do want to pause here before we dive into sort of what we believe around pricing to mention that I think a lot of creatives, writers in particular, tie a lot of their self-worth into their work. And I want to be really, really clear in that charging more or charging less has nothing to do with your abilities as a writer in this, in so far as they reflect who you are and how worthy you are of making money, getting the projects, being an incredible human being who has this talent that you're trying to offer the world. Pricing is, by nature, transactional. It has nothing to do with you as a human being. And so this can be tricky for writers. Writers are putting themselves in a constant position for criticism. Anytime you send a draft off to someone, you are asking them to give you feedback and that feedback isn't always positive. Sometimes it's things to work on that has nothing to do with who you are and neither does your pricing. So I had, I just want to put that out there because we are going to talk a lot about, you know, as you get more experienced, maybe raise the prices as you're trying something new, maybe lower the prices, or, you know, even do a few things for free so you can build a portfolio. And all of that is valid at, from a strategic perspective, but it has nothing to do with yourself.

Marie:
Right. And also, you know, we're our own worst critic, but also like a lot of us are very, you know, we can take critique on our writing a lot of the time cause that's part of our daily lives, but sometimes we worry, like it's on a higher level of right. Like, Oh, if I charge that much, are they going to think I'm greedy? Or are they gonna think that I'm whatever. Ultimately, if someone does say that, if they're like, I am appalled that you were charging, you know, a hundred dollars for this thing, which clearly took you five seconds, like that actually reflects more on them than on you. You probably priced it that way for a reason.

Jessi:
There's the old story I think of Picasso. I'm totally going to get this wrong. So I apologize, but it's, if I remember correctly, the story is about Picasso being on a train and someone recognizes him and goes up to him and says, Hey, can you give me a drawing? And he does, he quickly in, you know, two minutes or less draws something and says, okay, that will be, I'm making up a number here, but $5,000 and the person who approached him is appalled, like Marie said, and like you just spent two minutes doing that and Picasso's responses. Yeah. But I spent 30 years learning how, and so it's important to keep that perspective of, we are always learning and the ROI of what we do, isn't always immediately apparent by the person who's watching from the outside, because they only see what is happening in the moment. They don't see all the work that it took for you to get where you are.

Marie:
Right. And often they only see the end product. Right. I mean, who knows how many rounds of internal revisions happen before client even sees something? Right. I mean, if you're a bit of a perfectionist, like sometimes we have a tendency to be, you know, what we're talking about. So going back to this idea of sort of these core beliefs of ours, we always heard this, the stereotype, right. That writers are artists, even if they're writing something professionally, not just, well, creative writing is also professional writing, but what I mean is like business writing. And there is an art to it. There's also some science to it, but I think there's more art to it than science a lot of the time. And so therefore they qualify it as starving artists. Right? You need to have the plan B, you need to, you know, isn't that nice, sweetie, that you want to study English. Maybe you should also study pre-med. And we reject this idea. Writers do not need to be starving artists. You can be a writer and make money, but a lot of times our society doesn't recognize that. And so it takes some intentionality and a little bit of outside the box, thinking on our part to actually make that happen.

Jessi:
Yeah. It's so funny that you say that there's more of an art to it than a science because my brain is so opposite yours sometimes because I'm like, no, there's more of a science to it than an art. And I think that's the point though. I think, I think everyone approaches it in a different way. Everyone approaches writing in a different way. And that allows us all as writers to bring different strengths to it, which ties into, you know, when you're thinking about the longterm ROI of your content, what are those strengths that you're bringing that another writer might have different strengths to offer? So, you know, back in the early days when Marie and I were co-writing every single client project, you know, I would do a first pass or she would do a first pass and then we would tag the other person in because we knew that the other person would be able to amplify their strengths where, you know, we had opposite strengths. So I would say, Hey, Marie, come in and check my draft for these things that I know your stronger on than I am, which added to the ROI, which added to how much we could charge, because you had two eyes on every draft.

Marie:
Exactly. So, you know, consider how, again, like we said, kind of consider like income first or like personal income slash business income. First, as you're thinking about pricing, if you haven't done that before, it may really open your eyes to the fact that your pricing may not actually suit your goals. And if you're continually feeling like you're scrambling for money, this may be a missing piece for you. And remember that you can scale based on quality, not quantity of clients. You don't have to just continue taking more and more and more and more, because that's the other piece of it. And when you're looking at sort of income first model, and like Jessi said, you know, do you want to be a full-time freelance writer or whatever it is, that's totally fine, but also define what full-time means to you.
Full-time may actually be less than 40 hours a week because this work uses so much of your brain, your strategic insight, the arts side of you, the science side of you, your creativity, it can be very draining even when it's a project you freely love. And so a lot of the time, you know, we don't think about the fact that, you know, that time that you're spending in the shower that morning prepping for the day, you're already kind of thinking about work like that may kind of count right into your time and you may not be counting it.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I think, you know, there's a risk when you're trying to scale based on quantity of clients when you're trying to add projects so that you can increase your revenue. Because then you are context switching, more, you're going between projects more, which means the quality of the work that you're doing may decrease. And so you don't want to put all your eggs in one client basket, but you do want to make sure that you're not switching between 50 different clients, which may require more time and energy than you actually have to give. And I think that this is the sort of tug of war. A lot of writers end up finding themselves in when they are thinking about how to price themselves.

Marie:
Exactly. So, okay. So this is kind of what we believe, but let's shift into some action steps, right? That you can take, like how do you actually make some concrete changes here and have some direction? So, our first piece of guidance for you, and again, I do think this is really applicable to other CEO's as well. So perk up those ears. Figure out what is the return on investment you want to get from the writing you're doing for others. Right? A lot of times we just think this is for the client, and obviously we want to get a great ROI for them. We will want to create content with longevity, or we want it to achieve their goals. And also, what do you want it to do for you? You know, are you looking for portfolio pieces? Are you looking for case studies that you want to build out? Are you looking for great testimonials? Are you looking to hit a revenue goal? There's a lot of different directions that you can take. And sometimes it's multiple things, right? Sometimes it's to increase your experience with a set, a certain type of writing, whatever it is, think about that as you're moving forward, because ultimately this isn't just a benefit your clients, it's also to benefit you and your career.

Jessi:
Yeah. And no, once you're looking for those revenue goals, know what your pricing system is. You don't have to brief figure it out. Every single time someone comes to you with a potential project.

Marie:
Like we did.

Jessi:
Yeah. Please don't. It's a lot of time that could be better spent serving your clients. And when you do know your pricing system, it allows you to, first of all, you can reverse engineer it by being honest about your income goals and what it will take to get there. But it also allows you to be more confident in those sales calls and in those conversations where you're talking to a client and they say something like, okay, well, I want these things, what is it going to cost? But it doesn't mean you have to blurt out a response right on that call. You can say, well, I'll get a proposal to you. I'll get back to you, but how wonderful would it be if you spent 20 minutes put in that proposal together as opposed to two hours?

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. We used to do that every time. And I think, you know, there is something really, if you kind of have a boutique, you know, mindset and you're creating these like bespoke proposals every time, it can feel really high touch, right? But like what parts of that can be systematized? What parts of that can be replicated? And also be honest with yourself. Is there a little bit of lack of confidence potentially that's causing this sort of hand wringing over the proposal every time? Speaking from experience.

Jessi:
And you'll notice by the way that we're not telling you, Oh, go price by the hour or, Oh, go price by the word or by the project or on a retainer system, the method of collecting money, different things work for different people. And so we're not going to tell you, this is the best way. That's the best way we know what works for us, which is if you're curious, project-based pricing and retainer systems, but that's not going to work for everyone because they're not going to have the same sorts of goals that we have, or the same business model that we have. Whatever your system of pricing is, it needs to work for you. It needs to be designed to help you hit your income goals, and you need to be able to track the data so that, you know, if it's working or not, and revisit it regularly, often in the early days, we would have a price. We'd use it for a while. And then we just sort of, after a while, we'll get this like gut feeling of maybe we should think about changing those, but there was no data driving that decision in those early days. It was just something that we sort of started feeling like, you know, I think that these prices are a little low until we ran into situations. Like I mentioned earlier with the website copy, where we started to look at the data and realize, Oh, we can't actually reasonably hit these goals unless we make some changes.

Marie:
Right. We need to either lower the goal. We need to increase the pricing. We need to maybe find a way to retain more clients. Or I don't know, there was a lot that could have been done. Right. The only answer wasn't necessarily raising the prices. But as far as the type of data to track, so I'm like the art brain. Right. But like, I still love data and I love looking at it now that we can collect it. I can't imagine operating this business without it. So track your own time. I'm serious track your time.

Jessi:
Even if you're doing project based pricing.

Marie:
Yes. And if you're doing hourly based work for your clients also track the time that you're spending doing non-billable hours. I guarantee this is one of those things that people don't realize, unless they've run a business before, or they've like, you know, maybe been in one of those families that like they're all entrepreneurs and you kind of know about it. Like, it didn't occur to me to also be tracking my time, like checking my inbox on sales calls, prepping for sales calls, responding from sales calls, like all of that kind of stuff. That's your time to right. So track your time and put it into the buckets of like how that time is being spent. If you're looking for a really great strategy for this check, the show notes, I highly recommend Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. Track your income, track your expenses, track your perf profit margins, which will be very easy to figure out once you have those two things, be honest with yourself, okay. If you don't have a separate bank account for your business, like if you're sort of just starting this and you just have the money going straight into your bank account, like have some way of tallying that money out the expenses and the income a for tax purposes, you probably ought to, you can move you, but secondly, so that you have this information, right.
And so once you have that, then, the other piece of it is if you're using- our other favorite Mike Michalowicz book, Profit First, which is basically like the envelope system, we'll also put that in the show notes, the envelope system, essentially for your business, you know, tracking your profit margin is going to be great. But if you're seeing that there's an issue there, it may be because your allocations of expenses are out of whack. That like you're actually spending way more on a certain area than you realize. And so then your pricing needs to reflect the reality of how you're actually spending money within your business.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. And if you're relatively new to your writing business and all of this sounds really advanced and high tech, I promise it's not. And I promise that the simplest thing that you can possibly do for yourself is just make sure that you're aware of the money that's coming in and the amount of time that's going out. Because just knowing that those two, knowing those two things can help you get a lot more clear on whether your pricing is working for you. And that's the other piece of tracking data. It's not enough to just have the data. We've had this conversation several times, including a couple of days ago. I love data. I like we'll sit around in Excel or Google sheets all day and create new ways to track data. But that data is meaningless unless it is used for something. So the other side of this, the other step to it is set a date periodically to look at that data and then make decisions based on that data. So that it's actually serving you and not just a cool thing to know about.

Marie:
Right. Absolutely. Neither one of us has an MBA and we, you know, we've learned all of this just from living it, from having some mentors, who've been amazingly helpful along the way, reading some books. That's pretty much it. And so you know, this is accessible to you too. Like a lot of it just comes through listening to, you know, there's a lot of really helpful business podcasts out there. A lot of great business books, blog posts, you know, just do some Googling, essentially. If you want to get a little bit more advanced with the data too, one of the things that's helpful is when you're tracking your time, not just saying like, okay, well I worked 35 hours this week, or I worked, you know, goodness forbid 69 hours this week, or like, whatever it is, right. I've been there, I've done it.
Track how you're spending that time. So like I spent this time on internal stuff. I spent this third of the time on project Client A, this third of the time on project B and only 5% of the time on Client C. But if Client C is like costing or paying, essentially just as much as Client A and B, that probably means you have a higher profit margin and a higher level of happiness with Client C then you deal with Client A and B. So you can actually track and see like, are there certain clients who are consistently just demolishing your profit margins? If so, it may be a time for a difficult but necessary conversation with them about how do we repair this, or how do we separate from each other.

Jessi:
Yeah. Which brings us to our next point, which is to be upfront with your pricing. Whether it's to new clients or existing clients, if you're changing your pricing, it's really important to have these conversations early and often. Not every single day, because once you have a system in place and it works for awhile great, but someone who started working with you five years ago, who is still paying the rates from five years ago, you need to make a calculated decision as to whether that works for you or not, because they may be overdue for a bit of a raise on their rates.

Marie:
Small tip. I mean, we've never had a client push back to us when we say like, this is a cost of living increase, and it's literally just increasing with inflation. Like you can just Google your country's annual inflation and very easily say like, this is the percentage pricing is going up. I mean, that's like the bare minimum of what you can do if your pricing is working. But if your pricing is working for you and you keep it there, it will not be working for you in three years. Once the inflation rate has continued to grow all this time, because all of a sudden you're essentially making less money.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think too, it's really helpful for clients to be able to see that you, as a writer are confident in telling them your pricing, telling them it's going up. It shows that you do know the worth of the services that you're offering. And I think too, this is slightly tangential, but I think it's worth mentioning a few times during not just this episode, but this series, we've called out freelance writers specifically. And I also mentioned earlier, this idea of your, whatever you're charging for prices has nothing to do with your worth. And I want to mention that that phrase, freelance writer, if you use it, and if you identify with it, that's great. And we totally respect that. And I want to challenge you to investigate why you identify with that term and what it means. Because there is a, for better or worse, idea out there among people who are looking for help with various areas of their business, including writing that freelance, anything. Insert, fill in the blank with writer, artists, graphic designer, web designer, freelance, anything... means cheaper. That's not necessarily true and does not have to be true for you.

Marie:
Yeah. Preach it. Right. And I think a lot of it too is like breaking down why. Why do people think that? Okay, well, sure, they don't have the overhead of an office maybe, or maybe there's not the overhead of a giant team, right? Like we need all these project managers or whatever. But at the end of the day, when somebody is purchasing your writing, they're also like if you have a space in your house that you're using as your office, they are also paying for a portion of your electric bill and your mortgage or your rent and your whatever, right. Like that's part of it, you know, and that's why you get to deduct that stuff on your taxes, you know? So, know that A, you have similar needs and costs. You know, just because you're a freelance writer doesn't mean that you don't deserve health care, health insurance, right. Like, you're probably, if you're in the US at least you're paying for it some other way, or you're suffering from the lack of it, right? Like, you still have the same needs as somebody who works in like a big agency, a lot of the time, and it's not really about your HVAC. Right. It's also about your expertise, the care that you give them, you know, the dedication to your work. So...

Jessi:
Yeah. And the last point here under things to think about when you're thinking about your pricing structure is really think about the people who push back, whether they push back early on in those initial sales conversations, or they push back later on when you're trying to raise prices. But especially those early conversations. I remember past clients from our early days who we would very unconfident, really share our pricing with, and they would push back. They would feel like it was an inappropriate price. And they would agree to pay it, and the conversation would keep coming up of them feeling like it was inappropriate. Not because it was inappropriate, but because they didn't see the worth of what we were doing. Part of that was on us, because we didn't necessarily properly convey the worth of what we were doing in the long-term ROI. And part of it was that they had this misconception of, Oh, I'm just hiring some freelancers, so it should be dirt cheap, and it's not going to be a permanent position or someone who I'm keeping around for a long time. And what that ended up leading to was them actually not paying the last couple of invoices we sent them. And so that money was just lost. That was poor business decisions on our part. And also we saw the red flags early on. And so, that agony could have been avoided.

Marie:
Yes. See an earlier episode where we talk about contracts. But ultimately I think a lot, I personally think a lot of this attitude issue about freelancers and just writers in general, honestly, any type of writer, whether you're like a ghost writer or a content creator, or like, whatever, it doesn't matter. I really think a lot of it is like, you know, most people have gone to school to some level, you know, and taken English classes and they've written an essay and they've even gotten an A on that essay. And therefore they are outsourcing something that they just, you know, anybody can do this. This is my, this is my story. I don't know if this is true, but my hypothesis, they think anybody can do it because we've all taken English classes, you know? And, and therefore, like, I'm just outsourcing this thing because like, it's not really worth my time and it's easy and anyone can do it.
And so therefore it's on us to educate and say like, sure, good job on your A, in your sixth grade English class, that's serious. That's awesome. And if you were my child, I'd be very proud of you. And also, I may have advanced a little beyond that. Right? And like, my skills are the thing that is going to attract new leads. The thing that I can bring to the table is the thing that can convert those leads into clients. I can bring, you know, a whole new message make over to your company, like whatever it is, right? Like show them the ROI, show them the power of your writing and the language, and like what it can do, convey that to them. And they'll realize, Oh, this is more than writing a paper about the Scarlet letter. Got it.

Jessi:
Yeah...

Marie:
Not scientists writing papers about, you know, literature. That's awesome. And I, I love doing that too. Go ahead.

Jessi:
Take it from someone who used to teach high school English, getting an A on a high school English essay or paper does not translate into able to be a successful copywriter or content creator. It may be a great jumping off point for those early days, because you do have some skills that you can draw on, but they are very different things. They do require very different skill sets. Just putting words on a page does not mean that those words are designed to be personality driven, does not mean that those words are designed to convert, does not mean that those words take into account the entire marketing system behind a business as someone who is trained, whether it's formally or through experience is able to do and is able to really see that big picture and the fine details. So it really behooves you as a writer, as I'm not gonna use the phrase freelance writer, as a writer who owns a writing business, even if it's just you out there finding clients feet on the ground, doing it for yourself, it behooves you to really think about your expertise and acknowledge it and charge your worth, charge your services worth for what you are offering your clients.

Marie:
Yeah! You can't see me right now. If you're listening to this podcast. I mean, for making a video too, I don't know if that's going to be released, but I'm doing muscle arms right now. That's you? Okay. So in honor of, Jessi's background as a beleaguered English instructor. Here's your homework. Review your pricing structure. If you do not have one that is okay, don't get down on yourself, but now's the time to make one, right? Set aside a day to work on that have something that you can systematize as much as possible at this point. And if you do have one, actually review it to make sure it'll help you meet your goals. Like you might find out like we did that. The number of projects you might have to bring in in order to meet your desired income is actually physically, mentally impossible. Right? And so take some time and just reevaluate it and then set a date about six months from now is fine to reevaluate it. Now that you have some new data. And then I would say, go ahead and go into your calendar and click that little recurring meeting with yourself button or whatever you're using for project management, recur, that thing every six months into the forever.

Jessi:
Into the official forever.

Marie:
The forever. To the infinity and the beyond.

Jessi:
Yes. So go do that. Set a date with yourself to review your pricing structure or create your pricing structure, make sure you're revisiting it and go make more money.

Marie:
Woohoo!
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the brand, your voice podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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