Important Pricing Tips for Freelancers

Important Pricing Tips for Freelancers

At some point in our careers we have all looked on in amazement (and perhaps envy) at how some design agencies and freelancers can seemingly charge premium prices while delivering low-quality work. This article explores some useful pricing tips for freelancers to make use of.

We’ve all heard stories of people paying thousands of pounds for mediocre design and development. As designers we are puzzled when clients appear happy with these results, especially when you know you could’ve produced better work at at a fraction of the price.

Sadly the truth is that price rarely has anything to do with the quality of work. Clients will often pay a higher price for many reasons but it mostly comes down to what you have to offer and how you’re offering it.

Here are some important pricing tips for freelancers to help charge what you’re really worth while giving clients what they actually want.


Charge Clients According to Value

When two clients ask for the same service, would you charge them the same amount? It is very tempting to answer yes to this question. However, in reality you should always do a little research before commiting to a price.

A website will be of differing values to different clients. Many designers will base their price on the number of pages but this is a very naive way of thinking. Instead you should always base the price on what the site is worth to the client!

Each client that comes to you will get a different amount of value from your work. The price should be directly proportional to the value delivered.

Here are some useful questions for establishing how much a site is worth to a client:

  • How will this website help your business?
  • How will you know this website is successful for your business?
  • What specific numbers will be affected (revenue, leads, etc.)?
  • How much money is lost by not having a website?

Your goal is to uncover the business needs behind the site and how much real value it will provide. This way you can make sure that you’re charging what the site is worth whilst ensuring a happy client.


Bundle Your Pricing

Typically there are 2 ways in which most freelancers provide cost estimates:

Emailed Estimate

Emailing the cost estimate is a popular way of informing the client how much the work will cost them. Unfortunately there are many problems associated with this method when it comes to high value estimates. The more obvious problems include:

  • A distinct lack of professionalism and thoroughness.
  • Larger companies often automatically disqualify emailed estimates.
  • Absolutely no focus on the results/deliverables giving the impression that cost is the only aspect that matters to you.

Itemised Invoice

Providing itemised is an extremely popular way of providing cost estimates. However this method also suffers from serious problems. This include the following:

  • Client is not told what value your services provide as the total focus is placed on price.
  • Makes it easy for client to pick apart your estimate and go comparison-shopping for a cheaper price.
  • Studies show people are more motivated to avoid losses than gains. The idea suggests people are likely to feel more pain by losing £100 than pleasure by gaining the same £100. Invoice-style estimates gives a percieved sense of loss in each line as the price appears next to each item.

However, by bundling the price into a single solution and focusing on the client’s issue and a potential solution, it can provide a more professional and thorough estimate.

The client is always going to see the price as a loss but avoid focusing on the loss by bundling your fees into a single service with a single price. The key here is to associate the price directly to the results your client wants.

It may also be helpful to elaborate on each service with a short description. The services is what the client is most interested in so make sure to concentrate on them individually by unbundling the details.


Always Give Options

If you present your client with a single option in your estimate then you’re turning your service into a simple “yes/no” decision. However if you give them several options, this changes the decision making process so that the client is choosing a level of service instead of whether to go with your service.

In order to make this method work well, you need to make sure to follow some basic guidelines.

  • Provide options that enhance your basic service. Think of your options as Basic, Enhanced, and Premium options or Good, Better and Best. Make sure each step up in the options actually improves the service you are delivering.
  • The price difference of options should be significant. You don’t want a small 10% price increase in each option. If your clients give you a budget, make one option significantly more than their budget. You should also note that if there is something you really want to sell then make it the middle option.
  • Options should contain a name, price and description. Make sure each description clearly communicates what the client will get by selecting that service. Focus on aspects of interest to the client, such as the business results rather than the technical details.


Never Decrease a Fee

Clients will often say that your estimate is out of their budget. There is two reasons for this:

  1. They don’t feel the service is worth the price.
  2. They really can’t afford your services.

If the client can’t afford what you’re offering then they simply may not be the right type of client for you. However, if the project offers other benefits you may be able to work something out as long as they have a reasonable budget.

It is tempting to give a discount in this situation but you’ll be undervaluing your work if you do so. Instead start by asking the client which service they want to remove to lower the price. NEVER decrease the price by but rather decrease the amount of value the client will receive instead.


Give Discounts the Right Way

There may be times when offering a discount makes sense to do. But just remember that you should be careful how you go about doing it. There are two important things to consider when giving a discount; Context and Presentation.


Context involves giving the right impression about what your services are worth and what client behavior you want to encourage.

If you offer a discount just because someone is a new client, you’re starting the relationship on the wrong foot. Right from the start you have devalued your time by setting a lower price.

A much better alternative is to offer a discount if they pay everything upfront. This way you’re encouraging early payment and reducing the risk of non-payments.


You can always make an offer feel like a much better deal simply by altering the wording. You can get this effect by discounting a larger percentage off something of low value rather than a lower percentage of something of high value.

A general rule of thumb is to discount something of lower value whilst making sure it’s for the right reason.


In Summary

Any one of these important pricing tips for freelancers will work well by themselves but you will only really start to appreciate their benefit when you combine them together in a sensible strategy.

If you have tried any of these pricing tips for freelancers before then let us know how it worked for you! Alternatively, if there any tips we have missed then please do let us know!


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