How much should you charge?

by Kevin

in Copywriting,Freelancing

“One new client actually rushed an ATM to hand me a wad of 100 dollar bills, just to show me he’s serious to get started.”

– Email from Dan after the Action Seminar

My favorite thing about entrepreneurs…

(and whether you own multiple seven figure businesses, or you’re just starting out as a freelance photographer – you ARE an entrepreneur)

… is that we all came into this game following our own unique path.

We weren’t handed the keys to daddy’s company…

… we didn’t get the hookup from a fraternity brother…

… most of us didn’t even finish – or even start – college.

That makes us renegades.

The great unwashed legion of business warriors from bootstrap beginnings and ever-sweeter victories.

I love it.

The people you meet at an internet marketing conference all have incredible stories of passion (and often horror) behind how they earned their badge of courage and the riches that followed – or soon will.

Just last weekend, the speakers at the Action Seminar sprinkled their brilliant talks with tales of going broke, landing in jail, outrunning mafia thugs and narrowly escaping death.

We wear scars proudly in this industry.

We also carry a lot of personal baggage into our businesses.

The path to success for renegades is piled six feet high on both sides with the rotting careers of excessively talented people who just couldn’t swing the business end of the gig.

That’s the rub.

You can be the best damn writer, graphic artist, photographer or dog groomer on the planet, but if your baggage is too heavy to make it up the mountain, then you end up camping out somewhere towards the bottom.

Always planning to climb further up, yet never making it happen.

Shedding the baggage is hard, yes. But harder still is recognizing the dead weight from the essential tools.

That’s why I’m so proud of my new friend Dan.

He was one of the fast-clicking five that nabbed my bonus consultation along with his ticket to the Action Seminar.

Dan is an up-and-coming freelance copywriter.

We got on the phone before the conference and I asked him what I could help him with most. He explained that his biggest sticking point right now was pricing.

It’s a big hurdle, and a common one for renegade entrepreneurs to trip over.

Here was Dan, succeeding at one of the most difficult tasks on the planet – writing…

But not just writing…

… writing thats job is to be so good that people reach into their wallets and hand you money after reading it.

A rare talent, to say the least.

Yet when it came to Dan recognizing his own wizard-like skills, he was stuck in the rookie mindset of…

“I’m just happy that anyone is willing to pay me.”

I’m sure you’ve felt that too.

It’s seems like a pure miracle the first time someone hands us money to perform the skill we’ve chosen to nurture.

It’s the greatest of all unexpected dreams.

The baptismal awakening of our entrepreneur lives.

The moment that you realize, “Wow, I CAN make the rules and win.”

So powerful is the moment that we spend far too long celebrating it over and over again, instead of pushing our way further up the mountain.

Like many service-based entrepreneurs, Dan was grossly undercharging for his time and talent.

All he needed from me was a few pricing tactics, and even more importantly, PERMISSION, to charge what he’s really worth.

I’m very proud of Dan and how quickly he put my advice into action.

He booked over $10,000 worth of new business in the 2 weeks since our phone call. After applying the correct amount of scarcity on his time, one person at the seminar ran to the ATM machine and insisted on giving him a wad of $100 bills to secure a slot.

Dan says it’s the most he’s ever charged and the fastest he’s ever gotten paid for his work. Rightly so. He provides a great service and handles his business with integrity.

Yes, all he needed was permission to get paid what he is worth. The same way I needed permission from my mentors and they from theirs…. on down the line.

If it’s a little ironic that a “renegade” should seek permission to succeed, consider that we are human. And humans come pre-programmed with tribal instincts. We gauge progress within the confines of our pack.

Yet, as entrepreneurs we are often isolated, with no immediate tribe to observe and excel within. So we’re left to fend for ourselves. Figure it out on our own and too often, accept “good enough”.

If that’s where you are right now, then I invite you to take a moment to write out what makes you exceptional at what you do…. then allow your chest to swell with pride…

… and accept my permission to raise your price by at least two times on your next proposal.

At best, your prospect will agree without flinching.

At worst, you’ll negotiate something closer to your current price and your new client will feel like he got the bargain of a lifetime.

If you’ve got the goods, go get your due.

You’ll be shocked at how much better life is further up the mountain.


Tell me your best pricing stories or hangups in the comments. I read them all and answer what I can.

And if you are still kicking yourself for missing the Action Seminar, you can get the next best thing – sit home and watch all the incredible presentations in your pajamas.


Clayton Terao March 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hey Kevin,

I saw you on Derek Halpern’s CreativeLIVE thing last week. I thought it was weird since I literally just got John Carlton’s Freelance Course about a week before that (I liked your contribution to the bonus material, BTW).

Since I’m just getting started as a copywriter, I’m having a hard time even charging money at all. I feel like I need to work my first few jobs until I have maybe 3 testimonials before I can even justify charging money.

I think I have decent skills, but to be honest, I don’t even know where to begin charging in terms of rates…

Kevin March 28, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Valid points, Clayton.

It is a conundrum when you’re completely fresh to the game. Gotta get the uniform dirty before they’ll throw the ball your way.

So, what do you think is the fastest way to do that?

If I said to you, “Clayton, show me 3 samples, I’ve got a client I think would hire you” how would you get those samples to me before losing the gig?

(There’s no wrong answer here (except “I’d give up”, but I’d like to hear yours before giving you mine)

Mk Akan March 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

Kev….nice piece…

Many advice one should look around and price their product and services relative to what the market is able to pay for.
What do who have to say about that?

Secondly…To price higher …one has to have a reason or should be able to justify the price.

What can one do to justify higher prices?

(i know a few….love to know what you have to say)

For the question you asked Clayton…i would go out and look for businesses ,check their sales pages …and write a sales letter for them and mail it to them. (even if it is not finished yet)

I would asked them to give me more information so i can finish it the letters.

i will charge them ZERO dollars for the sales pages ….all will only ask for their testimonials .

(i have done this before…it worked out well ;))

Thanks …

(could you install a plugin that send a mail when a comment is made, i don’t want to miss a thing ;))

Clayton Terao March 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hey Kevin,

In response to your question…

I actually have my own info marketing business of my own, which I’m able to experiment with as much as I want.

If it came down to it, I’d use the following 3 examples:

I have an autoresponder sequence that gets me about $5.23 per opt-in (and allows me to dramatically outbid anyone for PPC traffic).

I made a webinar that converts attendees to buyers at about 24%.

I also wrote a sales page for a friend that more than doubled their conversion rate.

I guess I just figured it would be lame to use results from my own business as examples.

But I am getting my “uniform dirty” in the meantime with actual work for other folks–even if it’s just free for now.

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