Always Over-Deliver? Raise Your Rates.
I have something exciting to announce.
No, it’s not a sale, a discount, or a special deal…in fact, it’s the opposite.
Starting today, I’m charging…more.
For months, I’ve offered a content strategy audit for bloggers and small businesses for $297. As advertised, the deliverable was pretty simple: a 2-3 page analysis of a site’s strengths and weaknesses, with a recommended plan of action. It packed a lot of value, since I put considerable time and thought into analyzing sites and creating the plan – but it was also a fair rate for what I promised to deliver.
Here’s the rub, though.
I always delivered more than I promised.
Typically, my clients are other small business owners and bloggers, people whose heart is in their writing and for whom a solid content strategy makes a big, noticeable, immediately-game-changing difference.
When I read their responses to my initial client questionnaire, I’m immediately invested. I want to help…really help. So without fail, that “2-3” page analysis has turned into 4, or 5, or 6+ pages. The email follow-up became a “quick” phone call that always stretched on longer than I anticipated. I often continue to follow up by email weeks and months later to see if they have any more questions.
Yes, I can pass some of the research and admin off to an assistant, but when it comes to the actual client connection, I don’t want to delegate. I really, really want everyone I work with to succeed, I take their businesses as seriously as I take my own, and I want them to understand that.
I’m really not complaining. I love the work I do with business owners and bloggers, and experience a rush every time I complete an audit or hang up after a coaching call. But almost every time I develop a product or service, I realize after a few months or so that I’ve been under-charging and over-delivering.
Many business-minded folks would tell me that I need to set stricter limits, observe boundaries. Do what I say I will do, and no more. Observe my bottom line above all else.
But that’s not how I’m built.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years considering the best way for me to scale this little one-woman enterprise I’ve created. And truthfully, I’m still mulling. I admire the Marie Forleos of the world, who reach and help large numbers of people on a mass scale – and are raking in the bucks doing so – but I’m not convinced that’s the right path for me. Maybe I’ll get there, or maybe I’ll decide I am better off sticking to going deeper with fewer customers. Maybe I’ll accept that what it would take for me to build a multi-million dollar business isn’t worth the tradeoff. Or maybe I’ll find a path that allows me to have it both ways.
In the meantime, though, I still fully intend to continue earning a good (and increasingly better) living for doing what I do best, whether I ever scale, or simply decide that the “solopreneur” path is best for me for the long haul. The key is to understand myself to know the best way to package, price, and deliver my products and services, and not get caught up in the way other people are successfully pulling it off.
So when it comes to charging, what I finally realized is this: when I’m not asking enough money for my work, I have two basic choices: deliver less, or charge more. And l’ll never be satisfied delivering less, so charging more is the only real option.
Blame it on my Enneagram type-2 tendencies, but part of what makes work fulfilling for me is knowing I’ve gone above and beyond in making a difference for someone else. And a big part of doing business with heart is creating a model that lets you be yourself, doing what matters to you, and finding your own pathway to success.
(As an aside, I feel I must also point out here that in over 11 years of self-employment, I’ve found that the clients that pay the best are quite often also the ones who value my work the most.)
So starting today, I’m raising the rate on my content audit to $597. It’s a significant increase, but it reflects the “extra” work I’ve been putting in. It allows me to continue developing early relationships with potential long-term clients who will understand the value in what I’m offering (because what you charge does, in many ways, signal what you think you’re worth.) It allows me to deliver the way I want to, while feeling good rather than stretched or under-valued.
And the ironic upside is that charging a little more for certain things I do actually frees me up to give more away in other areas or take on passion projects that simply won’t pay as well. I think of it as one area of my business subsidizing another, in a way that benefits everyone.
If you’re feeling burdened (or broke!) because you’re always giving more than you promised, maybe the problem isn’t what you promise or what you deliver.
Maybe the problem is simply that you’re undervaluing what you bring to the table, and are giving away more than is reasonable.
The answer? Charge more, and then keep doing what you do best.
I consider that a win-win.