Fifteen years ago, my first client did something uncommon. He raised my rate.
As a newly-minted freelancer, I’d constructed my quote from a combination of my old salary plus anticipated overhead and self-employment taxes, etc. (And yes, I pulled that complex little equation from a book on freelancing.) He pulled me aside after I completed a sample assignment, and while I mentally prepared to defend my fee, he explained his company used other freelancers and consultants, and my rate was too low for my experience level.
I remember my shock and his kindness as he recited some of my qualifications back to me: almost a decade in communication roles at State Farm such as hiring and supervising a team of editors, my work at a trade association and my journalism degree.
In a culture that sometimes chases the non-existent trinity of “good, fast AND cheap,” we may forget to consider quality, service and expertise when calculating value. The lowest estimate is not an automatic winner, and a higher cost may or may not reflect a higher standard of service.
My recent search for a furniture restoration studio, for example, meant looking beyond the bid. What am I getting for the price? What methods does the studio use for matching stains and other finishes? How long have they been operating? What level of care and craftsmanship will go into the job? My dining set belonged to my great-great-grandparents. It matters to me.
How much does your business matter to you? I keep a short list of creatives from graphic designers to website developers to offer clients who ask for referrals. Like me, they’re artisans, passionate about their craft and their clients. Their price points vary according to their skills and experience as well as their products: some companies need massive, intricate e-commerce sites while other businesses need a smaller, simple online presence or a single logo.
As small business owners, we understand bills and budgets. We’re not the most expensive, but we’re also not the cheapest vendors you can find. Price isn’t our biggest selling point – we are. And each of us is as unique as your business.