How much should things cost? In most areas of business, it’s a pretty easy to work out. You can compare prices with competitors’ products. If you want to sell shoes, you can look at what other people charge for shoes, you can look at how much it costs you to make a shoe and then you can put a price tag on your shoes. But I don’t sell shoes. I sell websites. I sell words. I sell support. How in the hell do you figure out how much that’s worth? And is it always worth what it’s worth?

When I was asked to build my first website, I was hardly a professional. I was using a drag and drop template and piecing together code from anywhere I could get my hands on it. The finished product looked really good, but I had no idea what I should charge. So I asked a fellow web guy what I should charge and he told me a number that, at the time, I felt was too much. NOW, it’s well under what I charge but that’s after a LOT more experience. But once thing struck me. He said to NEVER charge less than that amount. EVER. For him, it was a set number, agreed upon by the web powers that be, that was the absolute bare minimum for the service.

I’ve always disagreed. A lot of my work has been with people that are just getting started. They don’t have a huge budget. They don’t have much. And sometimes, for those people, I do better. Sometimes I don’t. Why or why not? It depends on a million things but the one thing I’ve figured out along the way is that my business is worth WHATEVER I say my business is worth. It’s incredibly easy to sell yourself short but what I’ve come to realize is that flexibility is a wonderful thing. If you head to my website, you won’t see prices (well, maybe there’s the occasional exception to that rule) but in general, what you’ll see is a sample of my work, a description of my services and a button to get in touch. That’s it.

When you’re trying to figure out what you’re worth, what your service is worth, there’s the obvious tendency to just say, “what’s everyone else charging?” Try not to do that. Chances are that no matter what price you set, someone is going to charge a lot less and someone is going to charge a lot more. That’s why I don’t try to compete on price anymore. My prices are not the selling point and if you’re providing any sort of service, and the BEST selling point you have is the price point, you’re not selling a very good service.

I used to think that price was the determining factor in selling a good or service. But I know some REALLY rich people (I mean really rich) who wouldn’t spend a dime and I know some people that are just scraping by that will pay top dollar for the right thing. If someone can’t afford you, ask yourself if you WANT them as a client. And I mean REALLY want them as a client. If the answer is yes, wiggle wiggle but if the answer is no, stand firm. Unless your business model is pay what you can (which is a perfectly viable option in some respects) you need to be willing to stand up for yourself.

In the past five years I’ve had ONE person question me on my price or tell me that what I was charging was too expensive. Looking back, I’m glad they didn’t like my price because honestly, I didn’t like the client. Don’t compete on price. Compete on YOU.

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