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Like this article? We recommend Pricing Your Services

Pricing Your Services

Pricing your services is always tricky. When you're just getting started, you don't want to set your prices so high that you price yourself out of the market, but you don't want to be so inexpensive that you look desperate.

Clients often equate price with quality, as in the price of a shirt from Wal-Mart and the price of a shirt from Brooks Brothers. If you price your services too low, clients may think you do substandard work and actually go to a company that charges more than you do.

Clients are definitely concerned with price, but you can appeal to the clients on a budget as well as the clients with deep pockets by offering graduated prices. For example, in the area of website design, you could offer three to four packages that range in price from low to high and include successively more bells and whistles and custom work.

The budget package, for example, might be only six pages and could be based on a template that you have created. Using a pricing structure like this allows a customer with less money to purchase just as high a quality product, only in a smaller quantity. It's like purchasing three Godiva chocolate truffles versus a whole bag of Hershey's chocolate kisses.

Be sure to price your bells and whistles individually so that clients have more flexibility. A client might select the budget package and add the price of two slide shows and search engine optimization.

Before setting your prices, check out the competition in your area. Search for websites of design companies and maybe, if you're lucky, they will have their prices posted on their sites. If not, you'll have to call for prices.

Now you don't call a design company and say, "Hi, I'm going to become your new competitor, and I need to know how much you charge for your different services." No, you have to call and get pricing as if you were a real, potential customer, and for this you need a back story, such as, "I'm thinking of opening a new business, and I'm doing some research on what my start-up costs will be. I need business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and a website. Oh, and what about a logo? And I'm wondering what it would cost to get some kind of flyer or postcard announcing the grand opening."

A company with good sales skills will try to set up a meeting with you, but you have to insist that you are just in the beginning stages and not ready for a meeting yet. You just need some ballpark prices. I know this might feel sleazy, but how else are you going to get prices if they aren't published on the Internet? And your back story is true, isn't it? You are opening a new business.

If it makes you feel any better, this is common practice in almost every industry. Once you get established, you'll even be able to identify the calls you get that are checking your prices! Generally, real clients don't ask the same questions that a competitor asks so it's pretty easy to spot them.

When you're doing the calling, don't use any technical terms or jargon. For example, don't ask if their prices include using any JavaScripts and don't ask whether it costs more if they build the site with CSS or PHP. No potential client would ask these questions.

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