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29 Apr 15

The Missing Ingredient When Setting Your Prices

Person looking confused - setting your prices can feel like thisSetting your prices when you’re self-employed can feel confusing. You don’t want to undercharge and feel you’re doing yourself a disservice; you don’t want to overcharge and price yourself out of the market or alienate prospective clients.

But let’s say you’ve gone through the process of setting your prices and landed on a number that feels good to you; it’s resonant, fair, healthy and you feel confident it’d allow you to run your business profitably.

What happens if someone then disputes your price, turns away horrified or asks for a discount?

Last year, I led a class about how to set good, solid, healthy prices and not drop them which you can access for free here and I’ve written lots on this topic, but I haven’t before mentioned the missing ingredient for so many self-employed people.

When setting your prices, there’s one ingredient that makes the world of difference

To make this ingredient clear, let’s take you behind the scenes with a conversation that happened in the private members-only Facebook group of one of my courses (shared anonymously, and with permission.)

One of our community posted this:

“I’m having a wobble about pricing and need some advice please. I did an estimate for one of the possible commissions I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I used resonant pricing; it seemed a bit high but I decided to go with it.

I got an email back today asking if I could knock £500 off the price.

I always find estimates tricky because I often don’t know how complicated and time-consuming the work is going to be. I’d feel quite resentful knocking £500 off the price but then I know there are those out there who will work for much less than that.

Part of me feels greedy and is saying “Who do you think you are asking for that amount?”

Another part of me is thinking that none of this is worth doing if I can’t earn a living, I should just try to get a full time job.

So, I’m not sure how to respond to the email. I could reduce the price a bit but, if I’m completely honest, it’s all leaving a bad taste in my mouth and it doesn’t feel like an ideal way to start a job.”

This might sound all too familiar to you, right?

Immediate support, immediate wisdom

She’d posted this on our Facebook group with 100+ members. Firstly, she received a reply from one of our community who’d taken the course before. (This is such a rich aspect of our online community – that people who’ve taken the steps before are now available to share their wisdom and experiences with those who are newer.)

“I’ve recently turned down some work because they didn’t want to pay full price, and some other prospective clients because they weren’t the right fit. In the past, this would have freaked me right out! You know what has happened? Today, I just took 3 bookings for my highest priced service. Taking that much money in one day didn’t used to happen. To put it in context: at a push, I could live on that money for a month.

I made space for these bookings by committing to my work. I don’t know your product but I believe in resonant pricing and by the sounds of it you do too. Working while resentful is too painful for us, especially when we love what we do.”

The participant who’d posted the original query replied:

“Thanks, I’m feeling stronger already. Glad things are going well for you – very inspiring!”

Then another participant offered their perspective.

“Stick to your price, you know it’s fair. Their idea of ‘value’ will be enhanced, in my experience. Don’t give reasons or try to justify your price; give a simple polite ‘the price is as it is’ and hold a picture in your head as you do it of a long list of eager clients – so you hold your resolve!”

Another joined in.

“So glad to hear you’re feeling stronger about this; sounds like your resonant pricing is spot on, and maybe this client is just not the right fit for you. Your passion and skill deserve to be well compensated …. and they will be. Let us know how you get on – we’re all rooting for you!”

And then a flurry more:

“Keep up the excellent work.”

“If you do come down in price you will resent it and then not enjoy the work at all – and that’s the thing that will make you feel down rather than feeling happy with your price and the work for the client and enjoying it.”

“Stick to your prices! The people who are not willing to pay your prices are not your ideal clients.”

“I’ve found that people who pay full price tend to give better feedback and are happier with my sessions than those who have asked for and got a lower price.”

“Stick to your price; your work can only be created by you…it is priceless! Good luck.”

The missing ingredient when setting your prices

From this thread, you’re likely seeing the power of community when it comes to the decisions we make in self-employment. Without office colleagues to ask questions of and bounce ideas around with, in self-employment we benefit so much from finding our own loving, insightful community – like-minded friends who can surround us and share their wisdom and practical experience, as well as moral support.

It’s not just a feel-good thing; it can actually make the difference between earning a healthy living doing the work we love… and not.

Here’s what happened next

Feeling supported and like her self-employed friends had her back, our participant responded to the prospective client and held firm on her price.

She later posted on the Facebook group:

“Just heard I got the job! They went to see a mutual friend who I’ve done quite a bit of work for and apparently she told them I’m worth my weight in gold. I love resonant pricing!!! I’m now feeling really enthusiastic about the project and know I’m going to enjoy it because I’m starting out feeling valued. Thanks for all your support.”

This was followed by a stream of “well done”, “fantastic!”, “congrats on your courage and the commission” and “thank you for sharing – we all need this reassurance”.

No matter where you are on your self-employment journey, if you have wobbles with pricing – or any other aspect of running your business – the power of loving, supportive community may be the missing ingredient. Find as many ways as you can to give it to yourself.

Over to you

BlogForClientsFOQJune2015Do you have a community of support like this around you? What specifically do they do that helps you on your self-employed path? Leave a comment below, let us know.

And if you aren’t yet supported in this way, join Blog for Clients this June. It’s the final time this popular 6-week course will run so you’ll get access to the step-by-step How To materials for life, plus you’ll have access to our loving online Facebook community indefinitely. Get front of the queue here.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2015

Photo credit: CarbonNYC / Foter / CC BY

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  1. Rosanna Gordon

    Hi Corrina (sis),

    Love your blog, as always. I recently set up a Meet-Up group in Cambridge for Yoga Teachers. This was done out of frustration for not feeling better connected with my peers in the local area. I like using social media, but it’s just not enough for me.

    It’s proved to be a really nice opportunity to get together and feel support, and like you say – there’s power in community. We share our struggles as well as triumphs on the self-employment path. I really couldn’t do without the group now!

    1. Corrina

      Rosanna – I love that we’re both community builders. Runs in the Gordon blood. Love you.

  2. Rachel Eyre

    This was a timely reminder. I now remind myself that if I can support myself at my full price, I can occasionally afford to give away my services to women in great need who really couldn’t afford them normally. Thank you.

  3. Yohanna

    Love this happy ending 🙂 PLUS If you say YES to something that’s not right, you’ll have to say NO to something awesome that will probably come along later. Thanks for inspiring 🙂 x

    1. Corrina

      Hadn’t seen your new site, Han – and now I have. SO beautiful.

  4. Tanya Roberts

    I also love you blog posts, even from way over the pond in the U.S.! Thank you for sharing so many of the responses to this person’s post. I agree and am slowly finding the same thing – I am booking my ideal client’s for a good, solid price. They are prices at which I am comfortable and not resentful while I offer a tremendous value and service. People often say, “you aren’t cheap, but you are worth every penny”! I am learning to accept that as a good thing!

  5. Stephanie

    I started a group recently for introverted entrepreneurs (we call ourselves Intropreneurs). We meet once every month or two and what I’ve found to be the most beneficial is being able to share my anxieties or lack of self-confidence with people who get it. I’m worried that if I talk too much about these feelings with people who aren’t self-employed they will start to judge my choices, but I know that the people in this group understand where I’m coming from 100%. And sometimes just talking about the fear diminishes it.

  6. claire stone

    Hi Corrina, what a useful post.

    I recently had to work with my colleague on setting the prices for our healthy business retreat. It was soooo hard to do – we both had similar opinions about the pricing, and had to make sure to set the prices high enough to cover the cost of the food and house. The hardest part was realising that we also had to make sure we paid ourselves – which was really really tricky. We talked it out for ages (and I’m grateful that we were able to do it in a really supportive of each other kind of way) and settled our prices at a level that covered the bases, earned us a little and that felt right. We could have put them much higher, but for now, that felt right and I know that in future, a higher price will probably feel right. It was super useful to have someone else to talk it over with – in the past, I’ve tried to figure it out alone, and it is soooooo hard! I agree that having people to share it with is just the most useful and helpful thing and I will make sure to not go it alone when thinking about pricing in future!

    Many thanks for another fab post!


  7. Carisa Montooth

    Fantastic post! I had a pricing situation recently that was a bit different. I had a consultation with a potential client who wanted very much to work with me but did not have the budget. I felt a very deep connection to her. She needed guidance in an area that I needed to know more about, so I could be of greater service to future clients as I’m developing new services and products. So I came up with a solution. I agreed to reduce my fee in exchange for her providing additional marketing research feedback for me to use in my product development. She got to work with me at a price that was reasonable for her with the understanding that she’d do additional interviews with me for MR and I was able to book a new client + get much needed MR for new services. We both felt good about the arrangement and the value of my services remains intact. Win-win! 🙂

  8. Linda Crawford

    Great post!! I just did this – worked for a discounted price! It was a little outside my area of expertise, but one that I wanted to explore.
    It was the project from Hell! It was far more work than I had imagined, and the recipients were not the least bit appreciative of the work I put in. They were incredibly demanding. While I was working on this project, I had to tell some regular, full paying clients , that I wouldn’t be able to deliver their order as quickly as usual. They were OK with that. I resented every minute I put in on the ” Project” It was a great learning experience – I know now , I don’t want to do that kind of work, and I really appreciate my clients! I have stopped kicking myself for doing it, and have chosen to look at it as hard learned lesson.

    1. Claire Stone

      Aha – knowing exactly what you DON’T want to do is as valuable as knowing what you DO want to do!

  9. Marta

    Thank you for this article, Corrina. It’s very encouraging. I’ve been a translator for 2 decades, mainly working with agencies on a free-lance basis. I have an amazing resume, yet, I’m continuously being asked to lower my prices to the levels from 15 years ago! Why? Because the unfortunate trend in the translation industry is greedy business people taking over and trying to take advantage of the world’s need for language services. The agencies are forcing us, the working-bees translators, to lower our prices 50% or more, while they don’t necessarily change the rates for their clients. It became all about profits, and not quality, let alone respect of the end users and languages & cultures. But I stand by my carefully designed prices, and shifting from agencies to direct clients. Not an easy path, but it allows me to keep my integrity. After all, translation and interpretation are HUMAN services for people by people. I’m sorry for being so long, but the topic hit an issue that I’m passionate about right now.

  10. Kate Bacon

    Great topic and thanks for showing just how amazing community support can be.

    I’m still accountability buddies with two of my former Passion to Profit group and the availability of both this and the Blog for Clients Facebook Groups are so helpful when you want to “pop in” and connect to feel supported and be a support for others.


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