Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Freelance Does Not Equal Free

I wrote a blog post on Feb. 6th entitled, "What Is Your Value Worth?". This post was inspired by friends and colleagues of different industries having trouble educating their clients on their value and not just "my cost". Their chorus echoed a comment chord: our services are worth more than a dollar amount. What I heard were the following issues:

1. I'm lower than my competition and still getting beaten down on my price.
2. The client said they could get the same services for much less, so I compromised in order to save a sale.
3. I have to give an immediate quote without knowing the full scope of the project; if I don't the client leaves.
4. When I educated my client on the difference between myself and the competition, they didn't understand why I charged more.
5. I didn't charge enough because I was afraid the client wouldn't pay for it.
6. The client doesn't want to pay for the changes to his/her project, saying "what I'm being paid should cover it."
7. The client sends me a list of changes and expects miracles in one hour but is only willing to pay for 1/4 of that hour's fee.

To summarize, some professionals feel because they're freelancers, the word "FREE" is now the biggest part of that word and all the client seems focused on. Since when does "freelance" equal "free"?

I've followed many experts for the past twenty-one months, both in and out of my industry, and I've come to understand a few things:

a) It's my fault, and not always in a negative way. Think about it: if the client doesn't understand my fee structure and breakdown, if the client doesn't have a clear idea of what I am doing for their project, if the client doesn't visualize the difference between the quality I bring to the table vs. the lower cost of my competition, it IS my fault.

b) Understanding the above point gives me empowerment, or control, and makes it easier to move forward and re-educate the client.

There will always be clients that go around "tire-kicking", shopping for the best "value" they can find. What they're really doing is looking for the lowest possible price. Remember, you may know more than anyone else in your industry, but your client may not; worse yet, they may come to the table with preconceived ideas of what your business is really about. When you talk to your client, educate them of your experience and background. If you provide a more personalized service, say so. If there is a service you don't provide, let the client know so they don't assume you can provide it.

The important note is to understand business today is not just about how much something costs, but understanding the value of that product or service and deciding whether or not to trust the source - you. Whether or not the client decides to buy your product or service largely depends on the perceived value of that product or service.

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