When I started my business 5 years ago I had no idea what I was doing. There was very little info available online for female business owners so I had to wing it. I experimented with different prices, designs for my website, packages for my services and my client onboarding process until I found the sweet spot. It took years. And I know you don’t want to wait that long for your business to work.
So today I’m sharing the advice that I wish I had when I started my business. I used to be a graphic designer working with clients to design their dream brand identity. I quit working with clients after 4 years to focus on creating products instead. So while I don’t work with clients anymore I still gained a lot of experience of working with clients and finding what worked.
My business almost didn’t work out. But then I experimented with the tips below and finally my business got off the ground. I started working with clients from all over the world and my services were booked out months in advance.
Without further ado, here’s my advice.
Photo: Cliche Mignon
Don’t charge too little
I know when you’re starting a biz you’re tempted to charge less than your competitors. You feel like you don’t have the experience yet to charge premium prices. I totally get that because I did the same. I figured I wasn’t that good yet so I couldn’t charge a lot. I figured that it will help me get LOTS of clients. But guess what happened when I charged peanuts for my services? I got BAD clients.
The type that want to change everything you send them, who want to tell you how to do your job, who even want to haggle you down with your price, and who aren’t that serious about their own businesses. I had all of those.
When you charge too little, it tells the client that you aren’t a serious business. That you’re just doing this as a hobby, and that you’re not confident in your work.
Charging very little for my services seriously backfired on me. And the moment I started charging more I attracted the GOOD clients. It’s one of the best things I ever did for my business. Suddenly it was a joy to work with my clients because they respected me as a professional.
If you’ve been working with clients for a while now and feel that all they do is give you problems, it’s time to raise your prices and raise them good.
Show your prices on your website
I struggled with this one for a while. I read online that you should not show your prices on your website because you want to get in contact with your client first, make a personal connection with them and when you tell them the price they’ll most likely go for it. But it didn’t work out for me that way.
When I didn’t show my prices on my site, I got few enquiries. When I did, the process looked like this: people contacted me through my website, told me about their project and asked what it will cost. I then got back to them with a quote. Guess what happened? No one booked my services.
That went on for a long time. I started becoming super frustrated because I didn’t know HOW to get clients to book my services!
Then I thought, “if I’m looking for a photographer for instance, do I want to know what they charge before I contact them? Yes, I do.”
Why? For me, it’s awkward to chat to someone for a while and then they tell me their price and I can’t afford it at all.
So I started showing my prices on my website. Suddenly I started getting a new enquiry almost weekly. And I knew these people were interested because I knew they saw my prices first. So by the time I sent this client a proposal (not a quote) they almost always accepted it and I got the job.
Photo by: Death to the stock photo
Create packages for your services
This trick worked super well for me. When I had my branding business I created 3 branding packages: a logo only package, a logo with a secondary logo package, and a full package containing a logo, secondary logo, colour palette, pattern design, font recommendations, etc.
You’d think that people will always choose the cheapest package. Well, guess what? I was surprised to see 8/10 clients choose my most expensive package.
The reason I think this works so well is because the client can see what they’re missing out on in the cheaper packages.
I named my packages Starter, Intermediate and Professional. My clients wanted their businesses to look professional from the start. So the names you give your packages is also important.
Always work with a contract
If you’ve been doing some reading online about starting a business, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. That’s because it is super important. Even when you’re starting out, you NEED to have a contract.
When your contract states that you can only give the client 3 revision rounds and they ask for one more, you can kindly refer them back to the contract and let them know that they will have to charge extra for that.
If it sounds like an awkward thing to do, I can understand. But when I had to refer a client back to the contract, she completely understood and was happy to pay more for extra revisions.
What happens when you don’t have a contract? The client can ask for “just one more change” and you don’t have a contract to refer them back to. 15 revisions later you are tired, overworked and underpaid. You just worked for $1 an hour.
Having a contract is also a good way to weed out the bad clients. When a client refuses to sign your contract, then you can be sure that they’re not the client for you. If they find fault with your work at this stage, imagine how it will be when you’ve started the project.
Photo: Creative Convex
Have a backup plan
When you’re starting your business I highly recommend having a second source of income to fall back on. This could be a second, established business or your day job.
Starting a business takes time and you don’t need that additional stress of worrying what you’re going to eat and if you’re going to be able to pay rent.
Stressing about money also makes you more desperate for work. Which is a bad thing because you don’t want to take on every job you get. Not every project you get is the right fit for you. That’s how people end up working on projects they hate or have no interest in – creating even more stress!
You need that security of a paycheck to make you feel at ease.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. While these tips worked for my business, they might not work for you. Apply these tips to your business and if you don’t agree with some of my advice, that’s okay! You don’t have to follow everything you read online 😉
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Best of luck with starting your very own business!
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Photo: Creative Convex