True confession: Sometimes, right before I hit send on a prospect’s proposal email, I go back into the document and increase my estimate by a few hundred dollars.
But there are other times when I’m sure a prospect will think my proposal’s too expensive. That’s when I re-open the document and cut the cost, thinking the new, lower price will surely snag them.
Have you done this 11th-hour tweaking, too? Or am I the only person who’s uncertain about what to charge?
Perils of Pricing and Finance Fears
I love being self-employed. I enjoy the autonomy, flexibility and the wide variety of clients I support. I wake up thinking about marketing and can barely turn those thoughts off at night. I love doing my Melanie the Marketer thing and can’t imagine a different career.
As much as I enjoy my work, it still causes stress. Tops on my worries list: Pricing projects and retainers and having money discussions with clients. Next has to be the fact my husband is my bookkeeper. He’s also my help desk. Oh, and we both work from home! We sometimes butt heads, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Money’s on my mind much of the time, and the chatter often goes like this:
My new prospect is a small business owner, and I’m not sure he can't spend much on marketing. I better be conservative in what I quote.
The newly self-employed designer I met needs social media help. I bet she has no idea how much I’ll need to charge. Why didn’t I ask for her budget upfront? It could have saved us both some time. Sigh.
I’m working too many hours for some of my retainer clients. Why do I keep letting this happen?
Flexing My Money Muscle
My money worries will never go away entirely, but I’m working hard to make them less distracting.
Here’s how I’m getting my money muscle in better shape:
- I regularly talk with my business coach about money matters. (You know her — the Marketing Mentor Ilise). She’s a great sounding board and knows how to coach me through my weak areas.
- I ask my creative pro peers for advice, too. One place I do this is in my bi-weekly small group. (Ilise facilitates the meetings.) Hearing others’ strategies and successes gives me new approaches to try.
- I now charge a set-up fee for marketing retainers. There’s significant upfront work with new retainer clients that I used to not be compensated for. This small change has made me love retainers even more, and clients don’t seem to bat an eye at the one-time fee.
- I delivered a hard “something’s gotta give” message to a long-time client. I enjoy working with them, but my higher-paying clients have been crowding them out for more than a year. We came up with a win/win solution, thankfully. (Ilise tells me she sees this a lot — creative professionals needing to part ways with their first client who’s been getting a bargain.)
- I brought up the “m” word with two retainer clients. Those conversations weren’t enjoyable, but it felt good to air the issues and get their thoughts on how best to move forward.
- I hold myself accountable for the not-so-smart money decisions I make. I don’t beat myself up, though. I analyze the misstep and move forward with greater awareness.
- I talk with my husband about my money matters. Even when I know we may not come to a consensus, I still get his thoughts. He supports my self-employment journey and knows all my clients by name. And I can get him to talk shop with me most any time, which we both enjoy. My business’ finances impact our family’s finances, and money is a topic you just can’t avoid in a marriage.
Money matters are still on my mind, of course. But I have a circle of people I trust for advice, some new money strategies in place and small wins to celebrate. It feels good to know I can change things for the better.
How about you? How’s your money mindset these days? Any significant-other money stories you can share? (You know, for that other blog post I will write someday!)
I’d love to hear from you.
Melanie Deardorff is a marketing consultant in a Phoenix suburb. She enjoys working with small businesses, business coaches and her fellow creative professionals. You can find her on Instagram @meldeardorff and learn more about her digital marketing focus at melaniethemarketer.com.