pricing your work as a creative

This post may as well also be titled, "The Endless Struggle is oh so real".  Ha!  I am writing this primarily to creatives like me who have really struggled to land on prices you can feel confident charging.  If that's you -- surprise!  You're not the only one, and I honestly don't think that pricing as a creative should wear a cloak of mystery.  So I am doing what I can to blow the cover + just share very candidly with you what I am doing, and why.  

If you are reading this as a client or potential client, that's great!  I am glad you are interested in knowing more of my thought process behind this, and I want you of all people to feel like you have a clear picture of how + why I price things the way I do.

First, I feel it needs to be said that I am not a financial expert...but I am married to one, and he is the brains behind this operation!  So take that with as many grains of salt as you'd like.

Secondly, this is a very simple and not-so-revolutionary approach.  Even though I like to give all the credit to my man...he didn't really come up with this.  (Sorry, babe.)  But the good news there is that this system is old + proven to work!  Easy enough to get on board with, right?

Okay. So what I've done is created a tiered pricing system for my freelance work which is exactly what it sounds like.  There are four tiers in my system, ranging from $150 to $1000.  Conventional wisdom says that three is the sweet spot.  Personally, I felt the need for a little bit more diversity in my offering, but who knows -- it may not be necessary.  Time will tell, and I'll adjust as needed.

The beauty of this simple system is that every product or service that I offer can fit into one of these categories, and within each listing I've given examples of projects that would fit into each tier.  This includes wedding work, design + styling as well.  At this point, I have a strong grasp on how long something should take me to execute, and so it's really simple to fit projects into these different classes based on the time, labor, supplies and utilities it will take to create them.  Granted -- there will be outliers, but I'll account for those as they come up, and will likely lean heavily on this plan to determine the cost of a project that may not fit into any of these tiers perfectly.  

It may seem reductive -- but the truth is, I so badly needed to de-clutter.  I can't begin to tell you (and I probably don't have to) the amount of energy I wasted every time I would price out a project.  I am so thankful to do the work that I get to do, but I have to admit that there was a fair amount of anxiety that would come with each new inquiry or project request.  Not only would I worry about pricing any current project fairly, I would carry with me a fear of the next one I would have to work out!  This made for slower email response times, a shrinking confidence in my craft + ability to carry myself as a business person, and lots of nail-biting and headaches.  No one wants that!  I certainly didn't.  I knew I needed to get a new plan in place.  

It wasn't for lack of trying: I have probably written thirty pricing menus over the past two years, and every time I would finish one I would still feel uneasy about it.  I knew I wouldn't be able to immediately answer someone if they asked me a question about how I charge, and in my mind, that meant the problem was not solved.  I couldn't even back myself up.

I heard about tiered pricing a while back on my favorite podcast, The Fizzle Show (shameless plug, not an ad!) and I thought it sounded great but didn't have a clue as to how I would implement it.  I think it really took John going over this with me because he offered validity to my reasoning.  It's things like this that really demand the insight and input of someone who isn't you; because only you can do what you do, but you are not in this as a person whose craft is to make up prices, if I had to guess.  That's a necessary side show to having a craft.  So, if you're stuck, go get some trusted help and I'm sure you won't regret it.

Latent beneath this entire discussion is one that has to do with valuing your work, role, and contribution as an artist.  I think creatives universally struggle with "impostor syndrome", or the belief that you do not really belong in the role of maker/artist/creative...whichever term you prefer.  We can trick ourselves into believing that just because something comes naturally to us, it isn't fair to charge for it.  Or that no one will want to buy our thing because we aren't "established" enough.  Or that if we really put ourselves out there, people will see that we don't really have it together.  Or...a hundred other things.  Guess what, you're not the only one on that train of thought, either!  And the other thing is that none of this is really true.  Like I said, we trick ourselves.  Stop that.  Your contribution is so valid, and you merit the opportunity to work out how to charge fairly just by showing up + giving your best.

I hope this is helpful, or at least encouraging!  Let me know if you want to have a further discussion about any of this, or if you want me to bum some financial advice off my hubby in the off-hours!  I am happy to, on either account.

Just remember that you don't have to be in a state of constant struggle to succeed.  Sometimes there are very simple measures you can take that will make a world of difference!

'til next time!