As a general rule of thumb, there are three types of service offered in any industry, cheap, fast and good. Despite what some might think, there is no way to deliver on all three of these. You may have seen this recent animation that explains more. In a nutshell, if you want something cheap and fast, it won’t be good. Alternatively, to seek a fast and good service won’t be cheap, and lastly you can’t get a cheap and good service done fast.
It is imperative to make sure you are valuing your services according your worth, not the worth placed on you by others. With the rise of Fiverr and other similar sites offering services for next to nothing, there is always the constant threat of being asked to do things on the cheap but what do we gain in the long run? In short, not much.
In the interest of disclosure, I will say that I have recently joined Fiverr after years of reluctance, although mainly for research purposes. I am still not sure if it’s a worthwhile pathway for me, or if it is undercutting the industry and cheapening the value of true artistry as I suspect.
To get a good idea of what you should be charging, chat to someone who knows your industry and can give you an insight into the standard rates set out by your professional body. For example, when I began Stafford Media Solutions, I sought out the advice of the Small Business Development Corporation who showed me the rates that voice artists charge which I could then base my prices on.
Unfortunately, I was naïve about the whole thing, thinking that nobody would hire me if I charged what they were suggesting, so ultimately, I set my own rates which did me no favours in the end. It was a costly mistake as I soon developed a reputation for being on the cheaper end of the scale, and consequently, I was always being asked to do things for well below what I was worth. Cheap prices equal cheap reputation. You can change your prices easily enough, but it’s very hard to change a reputation.
Another thing to remember is that only you truly know yourself, so don’t let others determine your value. By accepting work at a lower rate, you are putting clients in the driver’s seat, giving them the wheel and letting them steer you down a dangerous road.
Once you have set your prices according to your worth, stick to it. In the early days, I would panic when I saw a competitor doing something for cheaper than my rate, and would then adjust my pricing to match or better their offer. Just because someone can do something cheaper, doesn’t mean it will be as good. Back yourself to do great work and (most) people will pay what your worth. If they aren’t willing to do that, then they aren’t the right clients for your business.
One final thing to consider so that you are properly valued in your industry is to not get too caught up in doing things for free or at mate’s rates. It can be a good place to start when seeking jobs, to offer deals to friends but it’s not sustainable in the long term. Eventually, these friends may come to expect discounts or free stuff all the time and while it’s a good deal for them, it does not help you one iota.
In conclusion, the lure of offering cheaper prices and setting the bar low is a tempting one. I know, I have been there, but we all have families to provide for, mouths to feed and expenses that need to be paid for. We simply cannot bend over backwards to accommodate everyone without sacrificing our self-worth.
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