How cost can stop you in your tracks
It can’t just be me, can it? Generally speaking in life I’m pretty vocal. On politics, fairly opinionated. On subjects that I love (the kids, ballet, cooking) you can’t really stop me.
And when talking about writing, marketing or small business, the words flow beautifully.
But put me on the spot and ask me what I charge for ‘x’ and it all changes. I am stumped by cost. ‘’Er… can I send you a quote’’? ‘’Well.. it depends’’ ‘’Let’s just say £x’’.
And then begins the headache of quoting.
I do believe that in my industry, as a professional writer and marketing consultant, it’s quite hard to quote. And perhaps this is the same for many sole traders who used to earn a salary and now must devise their own costs.
Or maybe, this issue is because I’m a woman. This is not something I really want to contemplate; however, I have spotted more of a charging-reticence among my female business acquaintances than among the male ones – who seem on the whole perfectly comfortable and confident with their charging structure.
Base it on resources and outgoings? Well for me, that’s just a notepad and pen, a computer and a brain. Base it on time? Well yes that’s part of it, but not the whole story. After all, if I can work quickly, the client is getting a better service but for less money than they would pay a slower writer.
Base it on experience? Undoubtedly this should play a role. If a writer or any professional has experienced life, different aspects of business, worked at a senior level and has a high level of academic achievement, all this may enrich the quality of work that is produced.
Base it on quality and creativity? Of course, in my industry, writing skills and styles vary hugely. Copy can be factual, accurate and well researched. But it could also be dry and boring. It should be conceptual, creative, high impact and engaging.
And finally, should the cost be based on outcomes? When a company buys ‘words’ it’s certainly to inform, but it’s usually to sell. To draw attention, promote goods and services and get more business, clients and customers. So, if a few words that take an hour to write turn into a lucrative piece of business; the investment in the writer is well worthwhile. So, the cost becomes an investment in the outcome, not just the service itself.
No wonder this is so tricky.
The other factor that makes quoting difficult for me personally (and I have again spotted this more among female business owners), is that I enjoy writing so much. I’m sure that there’s a whole underpaid workforce in many industries, who undervalue and under-price what they do, simply because they enjoy it.
Finding the confidence
As much as it’s about understanding on what basis to charge, it’s about confidence. The confidence in understanding the value of what’s produced. To believe in yourself and that clients trust in you. To state a price and stand by it. So, for anyone else who finds themselves in my position, where ‘quoting’ seems to be the hardest word, here’s my five top tips;
1. Research what other people in your industry are charging and get a sample of their work/service offering if you can and compare yours
2. Ask some very close trusted clients for their honest feedback on your pricing – this can be a very revealing exercise
3. Carry out a survey asking what people would pay, with some defined pay bands for your type of service
4. Charge premium rates for express, more challenging or added value services
5. When you send a quote, place it in a professional quote/proposal template that reinforces the rationale behind your costs, the benefits of using your service and client testimonials.
I’m finally starting to take my own advice. To other cost-ditherers, good luck!