Have you noticed how it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to answer the question: “So, how much does it cost?”
Do you find yourself stammering, justifying, or deflecting the question? I have, many times!
Now that I’m on the other side of it, I get impatient when a business owner clearly doesn’t want to tell me how much something costs. Please, just tell me the price so I can pay it!
The truth is that pricing is one of the things that can feel really emotional for entrepreneurs. It can be really tough to set your own prices, which is why so many business owners try and crowdsource their pricing or want someone else to just tell them what to charge.
In this massive blog post I’m going to reveal so many awesome pricing strategy secrets – you can sign up to receive this Definitive Guide to Pricing direct to your inbox so you can refer to it whenever you need to increase your prices or bust through the next money block!
When I started out as a life coach, I was clueless about pricing. I had never had to think about it before - all of my previous jobs either had fixed day rates set by my boss or were an internal cost to the company. I didn’t like having salary conversations and never asked for a raise or bonus. I took what I was offered (like a good girl) and never thought I was worth more.
When I decided to go into self-employment as a full-time life coach, it was suddenly my responsibility to assign a monetary value to my skills, and that was scary. Too expensive would make it look as if I was too big for my britches, too cheap and I’d look inexperienced. I wished someone would just tell me what to charge.
The truth about pricing is there will always be someone who thinks it’s too expensive, and there will always be someone who thinks it’s a great deal. You’re not required to serve everyone, and many aren’t going to be a match for your services or pricing. You don’t have to convince them. Put your energy into attracting your ideal clients instead.
And know that’s it’s ok; you won’t get your pricing exactly right the first or the hundredth time.
In working with thousands of entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve realised it’s all in your mindset. I’m here to help you change it up and become a badass lucky b*itch who charges your true worth.
Honestly, the biggest stumbling block that I find with entrepreneurs charging premium pricing but also increasing their prices regularly is just mindset. Everyone’s got the same fears. Things like, “Will I lose all of my clients? Will everyone else in the industry hate me? What about all the people who really need me but won’t be able to afford me anymore?”
I will tell you mine. I was honestly really worried that people would think that I was a b*itch for charging more. Trust me when I say everyone has fears around it, but your fears are mostly always unfounded. Those who have the courage to increase their prices, not by crazy amounts but just regularly, they’re the ones that really grow their businesses quickly.
It’s not evil or manipulative to make a significant living from your business. It’s important for you to earn your worth so that you can bring your gifts to the world and do good out there.
One of the money mindset issues we’re going to tackle here is how to increase your prices. You might feel really resistant to the idea of raising your prices and procrastinate in taking action. Just remember that you’re in business to make money, and you’re allowed to profit from your skills and talents.
Money is power. The more collective wealth we have as entrepreneurs, the more independence and control we have over our own lives. When you make more, you pay more taxes into the system to support others and reduce your own burden on public services. You can support political candidates who can enact change on a large scale, and you can put your money behind creating a better and more just world for everyone.
Here’s the great news: when you’re earning great money for being awesome at what you do, it frees up your time and creativity.
Then you have mental space and physical time to create products that are more accessible for those people who can’t afford your higher-end services. You can do pro-bono work.
Or you could take your message out to millions of people in a low-cost way - you could write a book, for example, like I did. Writing a book honestly takes a lot of (unpaid at first) effort, but if you’re completely booked out (and burnt out), you won’t have time to ever do it.
The world will become a much better place when more entrepreneurs prosper financially and are financially independent, including you!
I’ve gathered all my knowledge about pricing into one handy guide. Read on to find out how to nail your pricing strategy!
You’re going to learn how to set your prices, alternatives to discounting and why it’s so important to let go of what others think.
Because this is such a long post (basically a mini book!) on pricing – I literally share ALL my secrets with you – I’ve provided a list of contents below. You can read it all or jump to the section that you need most today.
Let’s dive in.
The worst thing you can do is ask other people what they think you should charge. It’s an innocent mistake: we think we’re being inclusive, collaborative, and harnessing the wisdom of others by asking them for their opinion. But it’s a dangerous practice.
Here’s why: Every time you set your prices by committee, you’re taking on other people’s beliefs around money, regardless of their qualifications, experience, or money mindset.
Imagine that your money blocks are physical things— like rocks—and you have to carry them around in a backpack. Obviously, the more money blocks you have, the harder you have to work just to go about your daily life. When you crowdsource your pricing, you’re not just carrying your backpack of money blocks, you’re taking on everyone else's. It’s like carrying 50 backpacks at once!
Not all feedback is useful. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Go to your favorite business forum and ask a pricing question. You’ll be astounded by the variety of responses. Everyone has a different perspective on “worth” and “value”.
Before you pay any attention to what others say, ask yourself the following questions.
Taking advice from people who are nowhere near your target market, for example, your husband, uncle, or a random stranger, is a big mistake (don’t laugh, I’ve done this!).
I remember talking to a 50-something guy about my business at a networking event and, in a conversation about what I did, he said, “Wow. That sounds like you’re charging too much”. I felt chastised and embarrassed because he was reflecting my own worst fears about my business and replied, “Yeah, I think you’re right”.
This dude was the complete opposite of my target market, but I let his opinion sway one of my most important business decisions. His opinion of my pricing could have been based on what his own target market could afford or on something more sinister, like an ingrained misogynistic view of what women are worth. Either way, it was totally useless, but the interaction played on my mind for days.
He wasn’t my coach, and he wasn’t a pricing or marketing expert. He knew nothing about my business or target market. He just made a snap decision based on what he “felt” was too expensive, and I believed him!
His opinion was none of my business, so why was I soliciting it? Why even have a money conversation with some generic dude or random stranger?
Honestly? Because I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted someone else to tell me what to charge so I didn’t have to confront my fears about money. I thought someone else would know better than me.
Sara Blakely, businesswoman, philanthropist and founder of Spanx puts it like this: “Don’t solicit feedback on your product, idea or your business just for validation purposes. You want to tell the people who can help move your idea forward, but if you’re just looking to your friend, co-worker, husband or wife for validation, be careful. It can stop a lot of multimillion-dollar ideas in their tracks in the beginning.” And she should know!
If you have a specific niche (and believe me, you should), then how well do the people offering their opinions fit that profile? For example: age, gender, geographical location, income level, stage of life, or business. If your ideal target market is parents of newborns who have a healthy income, why would you take the opinion of a childless senior citizen or vice versa? It doesn’t make sense!
If you market to other business people, what stage of business are they in? What’s appropriate for a beginner to pay is entirely different from someone who’s financially successful in business.
Nobody knows more about your business than you do. Nobody knows your target market’s hopes and dreams as well as you do. And nobody is more deeply and emotionally connected to your business goals than you are.
Another question to ask yourself is:
Until people actually need something, they don’t really know what they’d pay for it.
My Goddess, when I think of what I’ve paid for things, either because I needed them ASAP, or because I got excited about the results I was promised. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars by now! If you’d asked me what that product or service was worth beforehand, I probably would have vastly underestimated what I would’ve paid.
My budget is way more flexible than someone starting out in business and, to be honest, my time is worth more now, so I’m willing to pay to outsource to an expert. I’ve always appreciated paying for professionals in my business, for example, copywriters, to help me with sales emails.
But I never considered paying a ton of money for copywriting until I needed to create 35 scripts in two weeks for a new course I was filming. I procrastinated until I had no choice. I ended up paying four times my budget because I was suddenly in the market and needed it done ASAP! It was totally worth it even though I had unrealistic expectations about what I should pay. So, unless the people giving you advice represent your target market and need you now, they won’t give you accurate or useful help at all.
If you need a ballpark figure, a better question to ask your business buddies would be, “What do you do, and how much have you paid for X?” For example, “If you’ve been in business for at least two years, what did you pay for your website?” or “Hey health coaches: What did you pay for your website photography?”
That way, you’re getting the advice of people who have put some money in the game, and it’s useful market research rather than confusing random opinions.
What about other people in your industry? Should you ask them or sneak a look at their prices and place yourself accordingly?
Again, this isn’t even remotely helpful.
You might decide that the seniority (or popularity) of your peers means that you can’t charge as much as or more than they do. I decided at the start of my business that I didn’t deserve to charge as much or more than established coaches who were decades older than me, regardless of their skill level. Maybe you’re judging yourself against the “popular ones” in your industry and think that social media follows mean superior experience.
Now, that sounds reasonable on the surface, but I was discounting my years of adjacent coaching and mentoring experience, of which I had plenty—both in jobs and as a volunteer. In my own mind, that didn’t “count”, and I told myself I needed to start at the bottom of the ladder.
Longevity doesn’t always mean you’re great at your job. I know lots of “experienced” coaches whose skills have been stagnant for years and, frankly, aren’t that great. Maybe you know those types too?
Plus, look at professions like social media management. A long career in that field isn’t even possible since technology changes so quickly. In a case like that, results and knowledge are just as valuable as experience.
Lastly, your industry might have massive money blocks (the alternative healing professions come to mind) so remember, when you’re averaging out the competition, you’re basing your income potential on collective insecurities and industry myths. Money coach, Kendall Summerhawk says it best; “Don’t base your net-worth on someone else's self-worth”.
So, if you can’t survey your audience (or a rando guy down the street), and if you can’t sneak a look at what your competitors are charging, what can you do?
The simple answer is: You have to trust in your own wisdom and set your own prices. Nobody is going to do that for you. Just pick a price and try it out.
The truth is that what you charge is entirely personal and not as black and white as you’d think. You’re looking for the “Goldilocks sweet spot”, which is the just right price for you, regardless of what other people charge.
In an interview I did with author, Danielle LaPorte, she called this being “comfortable in your money shoes”. It has to be the right fit. Too big price-wise and you’ll feel like a fraud, like you’re a little girl playing dress-up in your mama’s high heels. But wearing too-tight money shoes that you’ve outgrown (prices that are too small) is incredibly uncomfortable too.
You have to feel as if you’re in alignment and in integrity with your rates, and only you can decide what that is for your business. Sorry!
Undercharging and over-delivering: what a classic combination! Often, if charging is difficult for someone, when they finally do accept money, they'll feel compelled to over-give to the point where she might not make much money at all. And even then, they’ll feel guilty!
I’ve done this often. Picture this: I was on stage leading a free workshop, and it was time for the “upsell”. This is my least preferred way of selling. I hate it, so I always overcompensate with the bonuses.
My offer was a one-day live workshop, teaching all my secrets of manifesting success, for $97. Yeah, you read that right!
Of course, I undercharged in the first place, but then I went one step further. In my desperation to offer value, I also threw in two 60-minute face-to-face bonus coaching sessions. Crazy, awesome bargain, right? But I wasn't done. “If you decide today, you also get these bonus earrings”. Uh huh, earrings!
In my defense, they were cool earrings! They had “Love” written on them, and one of my manifesting tips is to wear affirmation jewelry, but it was a completely unnecessary bonus. The $97 offer was good enough as it was!
People came up and threw cash at me for the workshop, and why wouldn't they? I was practically giving away the naming rights to my first-born child! Hey, why don't I come over to your house and clean your toilet while I’m at it? Cook you dinner? It was like a bad infomercial. But wait, there's more!
Of course, once I added up the costs for the event (including ones I forgot about, like buying new pens and magazines for the dream board segment), the cost of all those in-person bonus coaching sessions (parking, coffee, and the hassle of putting on a bra), plus those stupid earrings, I wasn't making much money at all, certainly not for all that effort.
And that, my friend, is the huge mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make around pricing: Being over-generous to the point of self-sabotage. Maybe we do it because we don't believe we're worth it without all the bribes, bells, and whistles. We want people to like us, and we desperately want to help people make changes in their lives.
Here's the thing: What you offer is already amazing and life-changing.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
Your work can stand alone without making you broke or making you resent your clients. Plus, you're allowed to make lots of juicy profit!
Almost every time I create a new product or event, I fight the urge to over deliver. We usually think it’s a good thing to give our clients more, but it's not. A course stuffed to the gills with extra information becomes incredibly overwhelming and failure-inducing. I know this because I've researched why refund requests were creeping up for my Money Bootcamp. It turned out we had too many modules and too much bonus material. People thought they had to complete it all and felt like failures before they even started. When we reduced the amount of content, refund requests went down. Turns out less really is more!
Over-giving can disempower your clients. For that reason, I don't recommend ever offering bonuses like unlimited email coaching if you're a service professional (it's a pain in the butt that really doesn't teach your clients self-reliance or boundaries). And I don’t recommend adding premium services like face-to-face coaching unless you’re charging appropriately for it (your personal attention should always be your most expensive offering).
Over-giving can also be terrible for the environment. Think of any corporate conference you've gone to. What have you done with all those branded stress balls and endless USB flash drives? Landfill mostly, right? I decided that I'm not going to add to that problem, which is why I rarely give away freebies at my conferences. I’ve learned my lesson about creating overstuffed goodie bags, but it’s a widespread phenomenon. Even when I went to a VIP Oprah event, there was random unnecessary junk in the gift bag. As if Oprah herself wasn’t enough!
The same goes for over-delivering in terms of time. Humans need time to integrate and apply information, so if you're a coach, and you're having monster three-hour sessions with your clients (unless it's a VIP day), you're probably overwhelming them with information, most of which they'll forget almost instantly. When we try to jam our years of experience and knowledge into one session, it's often incredibly tiring and uncomfortable for clients. They don't rebook because they want to implement everything from the last session (which is impossible). So, over-delivering can ultimately derail your client. Again, less is more.
Guess what? Not only are you allowed to charge what you’re worth, you’re also allowed to make a healthy profit. Say what?!
Author, Mike Michalowicz says “Profit is not an event. It's a habit.”
I once bought a beautiful handmade soapstone jewelry box from a local bookshop for $14.
I said, “You know, I think these are under-priced. Clearly, a lot of love goes into them”. The owner said, “I know. My wife does an amazing job, but we’d rather be affordable for people”.
First up, “affordable” is different for everyone, right? Those soapstone boxes would still be a bargain at $25. Plus, handmade items should be more expensive than mass-produced ones, and many people are happy to pay a premium for something that’s made by an actual human being.
I hate to think how little profit they made on those boxes, especially factoring in his wife’s time (which I suspect they aren't counting at all). It’s a shame, because I bet she’ll give up, get discouraged, and lose her enthusiasm for the craft pretty quickly.
My friend, multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Leonie Dawson, says, “When I sold handmade prints years ago, I forgot to include the full cost of postage and the special tube I was sending. In the end, I lost $4 for every print I sold. It cost me money to be an artist!”.
What Leonie did was really common. In fact, my first-ever business was selling handmade bracelets made of wetsuit remnants. I bought the raw materials for two dollars and sold each bracelet for…two dollars.
Okay, I was nine, but still.
The thing is: I loved having a business. I loved creating, and I even loved selling. It didn’t occur to me that I could also make money too!
My hubby was an entrepreneurial kid too. He bought bulk packets of candy and then sold them individually for a profit. From the outset, his goal was making money, while mine was about creating and selling for the joy of it. For years, I thought that money and joy were mutually exclusive.
Make sure you’re adding up all the true costs of doing business - including your time and expertise - and make sure you’re actually making a profit! If you’re not, you have to increase your prices. You’re even allowed to pay yourself a salary! I know, crazy, right?!
Paying yourself is incredibly symbolic. Why? Because most of us will move heaven and earth to pay our suppliers and make sure they are taken care of. In fact, I’ve been so stressed about not being able to pay an invoice on time that I went after more sales or chased down clients who defaulted on invoices I sent to them. I hate letting other people down.
But guess who comes last? Who works her ass off? Who does the buck stop with? You. You deserve to get paid, and not with the leftover scraps. There will never be any “spare” money left over for you until you stop undercharging in the first place.
Charging appropriately is an act of self-care and self-love. It’s not greedy or unethical to charge well for what you do. Money is a tool that helps entrepreneurs take care of their own needs and use their energy and resources to help others.
You might think you're doing people a favor by undercharging, but it rarely works out. It can lead to burnout and resentment, and you won't have the energy and vitality you need to make a difference in the world. So, stop being cheap with yourself. It serves very few people, least of all you.
You are enough. You might not believe that, yet, because it's so deeply ingrained. But you are.
One of the most symbolic milestones of your business journey is graduating from free to paid work. For many, it feels like a leap too far, which is why otherwise talented entrepreneurs get stuck in their day jobs for way too long.
I very deliberately use the word “graduating” when it comes to charging for your work because it should be a natural progression, like graduating from an unpaid internship into an actual paid job.
Real talk: Graduating from being a moonlighter (or hobbyist) to being a full-time entrepreneur requires you to actually charge people money!
At some point, you just have to decide that you’re ready and that, even if you never believe you’re good enough, you’re going to move forward. And first you have to realise that your imperfection is perfect.
Because you’ll never feel ready, have enough testimonials, feel validated enough, or be free of doubts about whether you’re good enough. That’s not going to change. That’s the inner work you need to do, not the actual hard work and hustle.
Now, there’s a difference between working for free and intentional volunteer work. It’s healthy and generous to build some philanthropy into your business, whether you’re giving time or money. But know the difference. Philanthropy usually feels good and has no other motive other than giving back. If you’re being exploited, you’ll feel out of alignment.
Beyond philanthropy, you might decide to work for free strategically, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Valid Reasons Include:
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Maybe you’re working toward a certification and need to log client hours to get certified. Or you need testimonials for your website, test cases for your portfolio, or case studies for your blog.
In that case, working for free is the quickest way to achieve your goal. It’s totally fine: Get ‘em booked ASAP!
Just decide in advance how many clients you'll take on for experience purposes and cap it at that. You don’t need to live in apprentice mode forever. You’re allowed to earn while you learn.
Most businesses can find a way to let customers “try before they buy”. For example, if you’ve got a book or a course, you can give away a chapter or some lessons for free and finish with, “If you liked this, here’s where you can buy the full version”.
Don’t forget to make the payment link really obvious. You don’t want to make people work to give you money.
People understandably want to see if there’s an energy fit before they commit to working with you, so doing a small (emphasis on small) amount of work for free can be an awesome sales strategy.
A lot of different service-based businesses can do this. You could offer “mini makeovers” for a web page (not the whole website), a free critique of a sales page, or copywriting feedback. This isn’t working for free, and you have to be clear that it’s a taster or trial to see if working together is a win-win.
I used to do several interviews on podcasts a week, just to get in front of my target market. It’s totally a win-win situation. However, nowadays I’m more selective about what I say yes to. It has to be a good fit, and it has to be a sizable audience.
I’ve done my apprenticeship and have been interviewed for a blog with five followers, but I’ve since graduated to blogs with a bigger reach. When you’re starting out, say yes to almost every opportunity for the experience, and then become more discerning as you go on. You’ll figure out what to say no to over time.
I get asked to speak for free all the time, not just at local events in my hometown (which is an automatic no because I like to keep home and work separate geographically) but at events in different states and countries by organizers with zero budget.
Some thought “no harm in asking” just in case I happened to be in their neighborhood on the other side of the world at the exact time and date of their event. Um, no thank you. There’s a 100 percent chance I’m going to decline that “opportunity”.
Back in the blissful, carefree days before I had kids, I traveled around the world attending conferences all the time, so it was no big deal if I spoke at an event I would have paid for anyway. Why not?
After I had kids, I started adding up the true cost of speaking for free.
Most conference organizers booked the cheapest flight available, so I had to pay extra to check a bag or have more legroom, and they didn’t always pay for a taxi to the venue. You’d be surprised how many organizers don’t provide food for speakers, so there are meals, snacks, and beverages to pay for. There are also internet costs at the hotel plus tipping everyone from waiters to bellboys to taxi drivers.
To feel confident enough to perform well, I needed to look my best, so I usually have my hair and nails done. And, now that I have kids, there’s the additional cost of childcare and the indirect cost of being away from my family. Like many mothers, I feel obligated to make up that time with my husband, Mark and the kids when I return.
Then there’s prep time. All the “brain power” invested in speaking for free comes at the cost of developing my own income-producing assets.
As an introvert, I also have to factor in recovery time. Putting on a bra and Spanx to leave my house and be in a room full of hundreds of people can wipe me out for hours and sometimes days at a time!
Let’s face it though: It’s wonderful to occasionally sleep through the night without my kids waking me up. And I can be incredibly productive sitting in a quiet hotel room working. I have a friend who gladly speaks for free as long as there’s a bathtub in the hotel room, so she can buy a magazine and soak for as long as she wants. For her, that makes speaking for free worthwhile.
But get honest with yourself and calculate your costs: all of them. Then you can decide if it’s worth doing. Sometimes it is! Sometimes speaking for free is worth it if the audience is your target market and if enough potential clients are going to be there to make it worthwhile.
I’ve noticed that, when I’m speaking to the wrong crowd, it takes an enormous effort for me to “perform”, and then I suffer for it later with a big integrity hangover that might take a few days to recover from.
I once got booked to do a cheap “inspirational” keynote for a group of middle-management government workers. I turned up in my sparkly blue caftan, talking about manifesting, and it was just the wrong crowd. A few months later, I spoke for a few hundred bucks at a college “career day” event and, again, I felt icky, like I had prostituted my talent for a tiny bit of money.
Don’t get guilt-tripped into speaking for free just because it’s a good cause or you feel like you should. Appearance activist Carly Findlay often gets asked to speak for charities, provide disability awareness to organizations, and ironically, participate on panels to promote equality and women’s empowerment. All for free.
After being asked to speak at a career day for disabled students at a for-profit educational institute (another irony), she wrote on her blog: “No doubt they’d pay a consultant specializing in an area outside of disability. No doubt the person running the event gets paid. For me, it’d mean an afternoon away from my day job, plus several hours preparing the presentation”.
When Carly said no, the organizer said she was disappointed (ouch, the D-word always stings), and that she should be “happy to donate her time” because it was a worthy cause.
Carly says, "I believe the work that people like me and (other disability activists) do in educating people is important in facilitating change and improving access and inclusion, and it deserves compensation. Our work is not to be given away for free”.
Melanie Ramiro, one of my Money Bootcampers (and someone I hired to coach me on speaking), advises having a personal quota for free events—say one per quarter. When you’ve fulfilled that, it’s okay to say, “Sorry, I’ve reached my quota for pro-bono work this year”.
Online Business Strategist, Kim Garst says “If you don’t value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents. Value what you know and start charging for it.”
Many entrepreneurs have a seemingly unlimited capacity for giving, and they feel greedy if they expect something in return. If this sounds like you, here are some tips that will help you “check yourself before you wreck yourself”.
Put clear boundaries around the scope of your giving. If you’re giving away a certain amount of coaching or consulting hours, or designing a small website for someone, put it in writing, and when it’s done, it’s done. If you’re speaking for free, don’t feel obligated to stay for the whole event. One keynote and you’re off the clock. Don’t feel like you should market the event for free either – that can be part of your paid speaking package.
Be clear about the expected reciprocity. If you’re doing free work in exchange for a testimonial, professional pictures or video footage, make sure you follow up and actually get it. You’d be surprised how often people overlook this because they don’t want to nag or bother others, even when they agreed to it up front, and did their fair share of the bargain.
Make it worthwhile. If you do pro-bono work, let the recipient know what your rate is going forward, and make an offer for further work. If you’re a speaker, can you sell books or products at the back of the room? Can you use the time to meet up with some paid clients around the event?
It’s always okay to say “No, thank you”. Working for free isn’t bad in itself: Just make sure you’re doing it intentionally and for strategic reasons - not because you feel bad about charging.
Recently I had someone comment on Facebook “If you really cared about people - you shouldn’t charge for this!!!”
Why do people do this? And do you think they do this to big brands? Urm, no!
Here’s the thing…
I mean - you can learn anything from YouTube videos, get a book from the library, figure it out yourself etc.
BUT - when you teach a class or program, then it’s totally okay to charge for your time and expertise. People aren’t necessarily buying to learn concepts for the first time - they are buying for a lot of different reasons.
Accountability, a community of other students, mentorship, curation of concepts, tools like spreadsheets or handouts - or because they want YOUR take on a concept.
Transformation, holding space, listening, giving advice, helping others… “soft skills” are often seen as invisible work.
Your skills might be discounted by others in your life - but that doesn’t mean you should help everyone for free.
You still can offer a ton with your blog posts and social media content - and then, it’s OKAY to charge for your personal time if someone wants more from you.
I’ve created hundreds of free videos and podcasts. I’ve posted 4000+ times on Instagram - yes, a lot of dog pics but mostly with tips on money and business.
Go look at how many times you’ve posted on your business social media - that is SERVING your community. Don’t discount that.
The world isn’t served by entrepreneurs doing everything for free - we already do that - in business and in our personal lives.
Money as a concept isn’t going away any time soon - MONEY creates a lot of problems in the world right now because traditionally, it’s not been in the hands of people who care about the planet.
We can CHANGE THE WORLD with more money.
I delete anyone who tells me that I shouldn’t charge for my work, and you can too.
Be intentional about your free work and calculate what it actually costs you.
How many times have you come across a potential client who’s told you that they’d love to work with you – only they don’t have the money for it?
It happens quite often, doesn’t it?
It sure did for me, and I can tell you that it’s not a nice feeling.
To make things worse, you can often sense that it’s a match made in heaven. You could really help them out… But you also need to get paid and they can’t afford to do so.
If you’re anything like me, this can leave you feeling very disappointed.
But is there a way to avoid these awkward and sometimes painful conversations?
Luckily, there is!
All you have to do is screen your prospects and be open about the costs of working with you.
You can do this in any number of ways. The simplest is just to put all the relevant information on your website. Be clear about who you prefer to work with and what it will cost. This will ensure that only those who are ready to commit contact you.
You’d be surprised by the number of business people who forget to remind their clients of this commitment.
I was like that once. Some of the people I worked with came away shocked that they had to pay at all!
Crazy, right? It happens, believe me.
Because of this, I only go to discovery calls with potential clients who are willing to meet my price. Right off the bat, this saves both me and the client from potential disappointment.
In fact, screening is critically important to your marketing efforts. It’s straightforward and shows people exactly what they can expect from you.
Don’t be afraid to proudly showcase your pricing. Remember that your work offers value and there’s a price for that value. Freebie hunters often aren’t serious about their work. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s best to stay away.
You have to give up the illusion that there’s a perfect price and that you can avoid criticism when you find it. You can't please everyone.
It feels horrible when you have the perfect solution for clients but they tell you flat-out that they can’t afford it. That’s often when entrepreneurs feel shame around their pricing, decide they’re being too greedy, and give discounts or concessions to fit into a potential client’s budget.
But “expensive” is a relative term: Something that one person sees as obscenely expensive can seem dirt-cheap to someone else.
Paul Neal “Red“ Adair, American firefighter says, “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
Nowadays, I’m much more chill about hearing someone say I’m too expensive because I know I’m just out of their budget at that particular moment. It also might mean they can afford it but just don’t want to spend the money. Or that I need to do some work on my sales page to better showcase my value.
You’ll see people say no to your very reasonable quote because they “can’t afford it,” and then see them spend money on something totally ridiculous the next week. It’s not your business what people value or spend money on, and you don’t have to change your pricing to meet their financial expectations.
It’s just a mismatch of budget, money mindset, or values - not a moral failing on your part. Your pricing is not a literal translation of your value as a human being. Money is just money. A price is just a price.
Having said that, yes, you can price too high. That might sound weird coming from a money mindset mentor, but I don’t want to BS you. For example: You can price too high for your ideal client.
If you’ve consciously chosen a target market that’s on a low or fixed income, your prospective clients probably won’t have the money to pay premium rates. They’re likely to be too busy just trying to make ends meet.
So, it’s a trade-off. A lot of entrepreneurs confuse their business with their charitable giving because they want so much to help a particular type of person. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you have to be the right match price-wise with your target client, and you have to have the right business model to support it.
You can also set your price too high for your client’s business level. I don’t often recommend that brand-new entrepreneurs work with super-high-end coaches because they’re rarely in a place to get immediate value for their money. For example, I’ve seen newbies get flustered when they receive advice about how to up-level their business or create high-end branding when they don’t even have the basics in place. It’s better to work with someone in line with where they’re at.
I once invested $7,000 for an intimate group business day with a high-end coach. Half the room thought it was worth the money, and the other half felt like it was a big rip-off. What was the difference? Half were six-figure business owners and the rest had million-dollar businesses. We all heard the same advice, but it was mostly applicable to the million-dollar half of the room. Not because we were smarter (far from it). It’s just that, at that point in our business journey, the advice we received was more useful to us and had a quicker return on investment. We got the same information, we paid the same price, but we experienced completely different value.
What do you think when someone is “cheap? “And remember, cheap is relative. What you consider cheap might feel expensive to someone else and vice versa.
When people’s prices seem too low, we often think they’re just starting out or are inexperienced in business. I know I do. Are you giving that perception with your current prices? Do they make you look like a beginner? Or someone who is insecure about their worth?
When people charge too little, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re inexperienced or bad at what they do, but it makes me second-guess working with them because I’m often suspicious of their price and the value I’ll get in return, especially when I know that it often indicates unresolved money blocks.
In my experience, that causes problems for me, like the supplier being slow to invoice (even when asked repeatedly), they will often over-deliver in a way that’s not always useful (like taking longer to complete work) or be timid in taking charge because they aren’t in their true power. I can feel their money “stuff” leaking into every interaction and it makes me feel uncomfortable, or even like I should coach them, when I want them to take care of me.
As someone with money to spend, I want to work with people who have clean and clear money boundaries, and who don’t buy in to a power dynamic just because I earn more money than they do. I’m coming to them because of their expertise and how they can help me, not so I can help them. Quite simply: I like working with people who have worked on their money blocks! That doesn’t mean they are perfect, but I can tell the difference.
Judging a service by its price doesn’t make you a snooty bitch, by the way. Recently, we were purchasing a flight for my mother, so she could join us on vacation, and between the two major airlines, there was a $1,000 price difference. No problem, right? Go with the cheaper one.
Not me! I was too suspicious of the price and kept questioning Mark, “Why is it so cheap? Is it an old plane? Is it a terrible seat? Is there a layover? Why? Why?” I couldn't figure it out, and it made me not want to buy it because I assumed there would be some horrible catch down the road. In my experience, when something is suspiciously cheap, it’s usually for a reason!
Whether you're just starting out or an established professional, you don't want to offer the cheapest services in your industry.
If clients say, “You’re so cheap!” or refer others to you by emphasizing your low prices, take it as a sign that people have a different perception than you do around your worth. It’s not necessarily a compliment!
Now, let’s look at the flip side. What do you think when you see someone with “expensive” pricing?
They must be really good and worth the money!
I’m not saying this is true or fair, but that’s the reality of pricing psychology. A higher price often gives the perception of experience, mastery, skill, confidence, and higher self-worth.
Here’s another reaction to high pricing: That’s not for me. Does it feel unfair, exploitative, or exclusionary?
Pricing yourself out of someone’s budget or comfort zone doesn’t make you greedy. It’s okay for those people to be served by someone else. And it’s okay that some people have to save up to work with you.
Do you remember wanting something that was financially out of your reach? You felt a sense of accomplishment when you could finally afford it. Why rob potential clients of the sense of triumph they might feel when they can work with you?
I’m definitely not advocating price gouging. Most entrepreneurs can tell the difference between knowing their worth and being flat-out evil.
In 2015, former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli bought the rights to an important HIV drug called Daraprim through his company Turing Pharmaceuticals. It used to cost patients $13.50 per pill, but he raised the price to $750 for no apparent reason except that he wanted to make more money.
Nobody thinks that’s okay. Nobody cheered him on with, “Go dude, charge what you’re worth!“ Let’s face it: Shkreli is a giant turd-burger. He was sentenced to seven years in jail for unrelated financial fraud, but, you could say that karma got him. Shitty, unethical people are usually shitty and unethical in all areas of their lives.
That’s not you. It’s not evil or manipulative to make a significant living from your business—not only to put food on the table for your kids, but also to have enough money to live an extraordinary life. Because, unlike greedy dudes such as Shkreli, I know you’ll do great things with your wealth.
Remember, there’s no magical critic-proof price, which is why the Goldilocks pricing method is so personal. Even if you undercharge, someone will ask why you’re not serving clients for free—guaranteed! Don't be offended; it's just a business rite of passage.
People will ask you to lower your prices, no matter how low they are to start with, and it’s okay to say no. I’ve heard this so many times. An entrepreneur agonizes over the price and finally quotes what she thinks is a low but reasonable proposal and the response comes back “too expensive”. Those people aren’t your customers.
One of my Money Bootcampers, Ingrid Tuffin, got an email from a prospective client saying, “We have received your proposal. Your price seems high for this job. Would you like to amend your quote?”. She simply wrote back, “No.” We cheered her on! Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who believe in charging what you’re worth, otherwise, you’ll constantly second-guess yourself.
Every time I’ve set my prices, I’ve had completely opposite reactions to the same amount. Even on the same day I’ve heard, “That’s too expensive.” and “Wow, that’s great value!”
Who would you rather serve?
I’m not saying you can just sell a bag of horse poo for $10,000. But, if you’re giving good results for $10,000, and it’s appropriate for someone to pay that because they’ll get a great return on that investment, charge the ten grand.
Then wait for somebody who says, “Oh, is that all? What a bargain!”
That’s the truth about pricing. There will always be someone who thinks it’s too expensive, and there will always be someone who thinks it’s a great deal. You’re not required to serve everyone, and many aren’t going to be a match for your services or pricing. You don’t have to convince them. You won’t get your pricing exactly right the first or the hundredth time. So, try not to worry about what other people say or think. Chill out and just pick a price.
Firstly, I want you to know this: your pricing is not a literal translation of your value as a human being.
Money is just money. A price is just a price. It’s not evil or manipulative to make a significant living from your business – not only to put food on the table for your kids, but also to have enough money to live an extraordinary life.
Remember, there’s no magical critic-proof price!
Even if you undercharge, someone will ask why you’re not serving clients for free – guaranteed! Don’t be offended; it’s just a business rite of passage.
Try this affirmation: "It's safe for me to charge for my work".
Guess what? You can charge whatever you like. A few entrepreneurs find this really freeing. Others, (the majority) like me, find this sends them into an anxious spin.
When I was studying for my marketing degree, we were taught that pricing was just ONE of the “P”s of marketing.
The others include positioning, product, place (distribution), promotion, people, process, and physical evidence (how you show up to your customers, including your branding).
For some reason, though, entrepreneurs really take this one P – pricing – incredibly personally.
Here’s my easy – and relatively painless – method for setting prices. It sounds really woo-woo, but it works.
I ask my intuition.
Considering that pricing is the most subjective thing in the world, the only thing you can do is to be energetically congruent with your chosen price point.
If you price too high because someone else told you to, you’ll feel out of integrity. If you undercharge, then you’ll often attract clients who don’t value your service.
Well - there's a good and a bad way to set your prices.
At first, I looked around at what everyone else was charging in my industry, around $80-120 a session and charged just below that.
Big mistake. Big. Huge.
Whether you're just starting out or an established professional, you don't want to be the cheapest in your industry. Trust me - most new entrepreneurs do the same, so you're pricing on collective insecurities and industry myths.
Put bluntly, you're basing your net-worth on someone else's self-worth.
This is true whether you're a graphic designer, life/business coach, health professional or you sell physical goods. This is a mindset problem NOT an experience problem.
I hear entrepreneurs at all stages of business say this:
“I'm just a beginner - I shouldn't charge too much - what will people think?!”
“I need to work for free for longer, just until I get more confident.”
“She's got more experience than me, I'll charge below her rate.”
“Nobody in my industry (or city) charges more than $X.”
Sure - sometimes the market will bear a particular price but mostly, that's an excuse to undercharge your true value.
So… if you shouldn't compare yourself to others - how the hell do you choose your price?
Here's the answer - it has to feel right energetically.
This way, it's totally true to who you are right now. You'll be able to state your prices with integrity, without freaking out and worse, sabotaging your business.
Ignoring everyone, what feels like the right price to you right now?
Just sit for a moment and ask yourself the question. Listen to the first number that pops into your head and then play with it. How does it feel to raise it a little, then a little more?
You'll find the right number. Even if it feels a little scary. It should feel like a stretch, but good from an energetic perspective.
It also doesn't mean you pluck out a high number willy nilly - I couldn't have charged $1,000 out of the gate (my hourly rate now). I would have felt like a total fraud.
At that time, $75 an hour felt okay to me, but if I'd have stayed there, I wouldn’t have a multi-million-dollar business without major stress and burnout.
Within two months of starting my business, I increased my rate by 29% with this one simple technique. Then another 54% a few months later.
I stretched myself constantly, and yes - sometimes it was really scary. But don't worry - with the rest of the tips in this post, you'll find it much easier.
But you have to start where you are … right now.
Try the exercise and see what answer you get. It might amaze you. Do it now - just put your hand on your heart and ask yourself the question.
It doesn't have to be a big production. You don't have to meditate first (unless you want to).
You don't have to wait until the next full moon or get naked and chant.
Now is the perfect time to ask.
Write down the number you get. It's a great first step and nothing is set in stone.
Premium pricing is a great way to fasttrack your business to greater success. You could adopt a two tiered approach so that clients can pay you to turn around their job faster or get access to your services more quickly. Some service-based entrepreneurs add a certain percentage (anything from 10 to 50 percent) to their standard rate for rush work.
Others have one price for their usual timeframe and another for a faster turnaround.
Charging a premium rate can feel scary, but it’s standard in almost every industry. The key is to identify a cost that gives clients what they need and feels good for you.
The secret is to re-frame your “rush job” into premium service. It’s all about marketing.
Don’t make your clients wrong for wanting quick results! Instead of berating them for being disorganized or framing your premium price as a penalty fee, make it something positive. Call it a “VIP rate” or a chance for them to “skip the queue”, so they’ll feel special instead of penalized.
Whatever you decide, attracting these clients is a tremendous opportunity to serve people who want instant gratification—or who have more money than time (like me). Just make sure you charge accordingly!
I want to introduce you (or deepen your knowledge of!) funnel-based pricing. This is exactly how I’ve been able to increase my prices so many times over the last couple of years. It’s a standard marketing philosophy. You have a funnel, and people can enter your business at different price points.
For example, the top of the funnel is free or very low cost. A lot of people choose that option. Say 1000 people sign up for your free offering. Then they go down the funnel, but I find less and less people go through with each new higher cost product or service. Maybe 1000 people opt in for your free offering. Then 500 people take your low cost option (eBooks, courses, books and other physical products). Then maybe 200 people take your premium priced option. Maybe 50 people go on to the high ticket item and maybe just five people sign up for your VIP offering.
The VIP offering isn’t designed to be for everybody. It’s called VIP for a reason!
You might have some gaps in your funnel, which means it’s a bit difficult to charge that premium pricing. Take a look at what you offer and how you can plug those gaps.
Remember you don’t have to have something at each level.
Funnel-based pricing means that you give your best stuff away early; either for free or at a very low cost. I’ll give you a perfect example. Check out my website, I’ve got lots of money-based freebies that people can sign up for.
Then, the next stage of the funnel - my low-cost option are my books (around $10). I share loads of really key stuff in these; I give away many of my money mindset secrets!
But at the end of the day, they’re just books. There’s no support, no networking, no membership base.
The next stage in my business is Money Bootcamp. This is where the real juice is. You get access to me via a live monthly group coaching call. The investment is $2000 and wow, do you get your money’s worth. There’s a vibrant community with thousands of entrepreneurs buzzing away about their successes and learnings, a truly transformative six-week course which will teach you more about money (your attitude towards it and how it affects your life) than you’ve ever learnt before!
Funnel based pricing has worked brilliantly for me. So many people who sign up for my free offerings end up becoming Money Bootcampers! It’s a no brainer to create this system for your business.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself – what are my free offerings, low cost items, premium priced products, high ticket items and VIP experiences in my business. Remember, as I’ve shown in my business you don’t need a product or service for every level!
Some days, you might feel tempted to slash your prices. And you know what, your business, your rules.
However, if you’re only discounting from a place of panic - STOP - there might be a better option for you.
Discounting can be such a tricky thing - mostly because it trains your audience to wait until you have a discount or offer a special deal. From a money mindset perspective, it can sometimes send the message that you don’t value yourself at full price. From a branding perspective, it can damage your brand.
Not always - sometimes discounting can be entirely appropriate - maybe you’re discontinuing a product, you want to incentivize early birds, you’re doing a Beta version of a program or just because you feel like it. Some industries regularly offer a discount for payment in full, or seasonal discounts.
There is no right or wrong - but if you’re tempted to slash and burn your prices - I’ve got some alternative strategies for you.
1. Offer longer payment plans
Generally for my Money Bootcamp, we only offer an extended payment plan once a year. But we recently offered a longer payment system and had over 100 new people join. I believe that payment plans should always attract a small extra fee because the truth is - it will cost you more to administer the defaults.
Offering payment plans will help the customers who genuinely want to work with you, but are concerned about cash flow.
Do this if:
Don’t do this if:
2. Packaging up
My hair salon has a package deal for blow dries. Buy ten, and you get an overall discount. It’s a great deal for someone like me who gets regular weekly blow-dries, and I feel like I’m being rewarded for my loyalty.
Yes, it’s technically a discount, but it’s a win-win, rather than discounting single sessions. Your customers get a great deal, but with customer loyalty and longevity embedded into it.
If you see your clients weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, see if they want to get a package discount. Make sure you communicate really clear deadlines or expiry dates.
This works for:
Don’t do this:
3. Supersize me!
Maybe your incentive this month is giving extra value to your usual service.
Buy a coaching session and get an extra 30 minutes. Purchase a course this month, and you can come to a free live group party. Instead of a 3-page website, you get 5 pages. Get an extra 20 pages edited for free. A free candle with every purchase over $100. A limited-edition shirt when you do a custom order. Faster turnaround than normal without the extra fee.
You get the idea.
By framing this as a special bonus, you’re incentivizing people who might be on the fence about investing. Some people just can’t resist extra value and will jump.
Don’t do this:
4. Offer online help
So many businesses today are able to serve clients online. Even traditionally face to face industries.
By the way, you don’t have to automatically have to discount or offer lower prices because you’re offering services online. Lots of people actually prefer it! They’re paying for your solution, not necessarily your physical presence. I continue to see my Kinesiologist, naturopath, yoga teacher, and even my ukulele teacher if they offer sessions online.
I don’t want to skip couple’s therapy or our quarterly business planning sessions. I wouldn’t dream of asking for a discount.
Sign up to receive this Ultimate Guide to Pricing direct to your inbox so you can refer to it whenever you need to increase your prices or bust through the next money block!
5. Sell your expertise
Almost every industry professional has something to teach others. Package up your systems, checklists, and hacks, and sell them!
Consult with newbies in your industry. Give consulting for some of your clients to DIY your services.
Why would someone teach a DIY version of their products? Give away all their secrets?
People are often worried about cannibalizing their own clients if they teach what they know, but it usually doesn’t work out that way. They are two different target markets! Some people like to do it themselves, and others (like me) prefer to hire it out.
Plus, adding a DIY course or book can serve two purposes: it sets up some passive income for you, and it gets you more customers because some wannabe DIYers realize it would be much easier to hire you!
6. Offer mini or “lite” versions of what you do
I don’t always recommend this, but it’s a great way to maintain the integrity of your full service, but still create a couple of affordable options for people. For example - if you usually solve three problems for a client, let them pay for one solution. If you do full hours, you could offer a 30-minute option.
If you have 1:1 students, you could offer them a more cost-effective group course.
You also have to play with the numbers. Halving time doesn’t mean halving your rates. It’s technically a discount, but as long as you’re maintaining your integrity around the value you offer, AND you put a very specific deadline or boundary around it, it could be a good strategy for you.
Your time should always be the most valuable resource in your business - and you only have a finite amount of hours, so think about creating an e-course or writing a book that’s a summary of what you do. Many people buy my $2,000 Money Bootcamp after reading my $10 book.
Don’t do this
7. Make it easier for people to give you money
Lastly - be mindful of any barriers to working with you. Is your website clunky? Unclear? Is your “buy here” button hidden on your page? Cast an eye over your offerings and simplify if necessary.
Can someone literally press a button and buy something from you right now? Even just an hour of your time? Or a gift card. Are you taking Paypal?
People can’t give you money if you don’t tell them what you can offer.
So - hopefully, that’s sparked some ideas about what to do BEFORE you start slashing your prices.
What would you like to implement first?
I was shopping the other day and noticed something interesting. Some brands don’t have “sales”.
Have you noticed? Country Road and other upmarket brands say things like “last of the best sellers” and Lululemon says “We made too many”.
They don’t want to be seen as being discounters – especially in their flagship stores. They don’t want to train their customers to only buy from the sale rack.
What can you learn from it?
Do you discount your products and services regularly? Are you always “on sale”. Try something different. Get creative and have “loyalty appreciation” days, a “VIP perk” or a “fast action incentive”.
The way you frame discounts is crucial to your marketing. Are you known for always offering a discount – or are people happy to pay your full prices?
Basically – you don’t want to be the bargain basement!
So, this is a big question in today’s digital culture, should online services be cheaper than in-person?
I get this question a lot from service-based professionals.
So many businesses have had to learn to serve their clients online (I even took ukulele and yoga lessons virtually).
So - should you discount?
NO - you don’t automatically have to discount because you’re taking your business online.
Lots of people actually prefer it! Many of my friends and clients LOVED the flexibility of online vs in-person - for example, tarot readers, therapists, and health coaches.
I even saw my doctor recently for an online appointment - and it was awesome not having to find a parking spot. The fee was exactly the same.
So if you loved going virtual, consider if you ever want to offer in-person services again.
It’s okay if you want to stay online forever.
Remember - they’re paying for your solution, not necessarily your physical in-person presence.
Not every client will prefer it but lots will. And it’s okay to design your business in alignment with your needs and preferences.
And you can charge full price.
If you want to earn more in your business (and you’re not ready to add passive income sources), you have two main ways to accomplish it: Work with more people or charge more.
You may have already done the math and realized that you can’t work harder without going into burnout and overwhelm. If that’s the case, raising your prices is probably the easiest way to earn more money.
You’re going to resist it like crazy. One of the things entrepreneurs do - even after they get over the initial hurdle of setting their prices in the first place - is they rarely review or change their prices. If that’s true for you, then you’re either going to love this section or want to run away screaming.
I once mock-chastised my friend, Claire Thomasina because I felt her photography prices were too cheap, and she’s so talented. She said: “Denise, last year I was doing this practically for free—you’ve inspired me to increase my prices, but I need to sit here for a while before I jump again”.
That’s fine. Claire knew she was probably still undercharging but she needed to acclimatize to her new rates before she raised them again.
Even if the thought of increasing your prices makes you feel a little sick, there are some undeniable signs that will help you determine whether it’s time:
Are you booked out, over capacity, or have a long waiting list?
Do you attract I-need-it-now clients who ask you for fast turnarounds, but you don’t charge enough to make that worthwhile?
Are you attracting high-maintenance clients who are no longer worth working with at your low prices?
Are your results incredible, and do clients often say you’ve changed their lives?
Do you want to earn more money and work less?
If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, it’s time to increase your prices!
Nobody is going to give you permission: You have to claim it for yourself and decide that you’re worth it and that now is the perfect time.
Let’s dig into each one of these signs a little deeper.
Are you in such demand that you’re booked out for weeks, if not months, in advance? Time for a price increase.
Are you seeing clients back-to-back with no time in between to grab a cup of tea or take a quick pee? I’ve been there! I used to get up at 5 a.m. for my first international client of the day and had sessions all day with no buffer in between. I’ve eaten a quick “lunch” of canned tuna because I was too busy to sit down properly, and I used to get my clients mixed up because I had too many of them.
One biz friend told me that she once peed in a towel during a call because she had no time for a toilet break!
This is not good, but highly relatable. I haven’t done the towel thing, but I’ve muted myself on the phone, so I could sneak to the bathroom and relieve myself without my client overhearing.
It’s nice to be popular, but if your client schedule is starting to impact your life (or your bladder), it’s a textbook sign that you’re ready to increase your prices. In fact, you can increase your rates and the demand probably won’t drop off that much. Trust me on this.
A long waiting list is a big sign that you’re too inexpensive for your reputation or for the results that you give people. Before you try and justify this, let me first say that everyone’s version of “booked out” is different.
When I was doing one-to-one coaching, I could only energetically handle about 15 clients a week before I felt overwhelmed and too busy. Other people could easily manage double or triple that amount of clients a week. Your capacity is entirely personal.
Pricing is all about supply and demand. If you have a lot of people clamoring for your services, chances are that you can afford to increase your prices, at least a little bit—if not a lot.
Working an over-demanding schedule because you can’t say no is unsustainable, and one of the ways you can recalibrate demand is to charge more in alignment with your actual value in the marketplace. No more metaphorical (or literal) peeing in towels!
The bonus is that you’ll work less and either earn the same amount or more money than before. And you’ll have more energy to serve your clients or to reclaim some creative space to focus on other projects, like writing a book or creating a course, which could help you serve even more people.
Now, you might resist this because it feels like cheating if you’re earning more for doing less.
You can’t be extremely good at what you do, deliver results faster than everyone else, and be the cheapest in the market. That’s a recipe for disaster and not even remotely chill.
As film director Jim Jarmusch puts it, “Fast, Cheap, and Good…pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good it won’t be cheap”.
You might have a reputation for being the “emergency go-to person” who does things quickly, or maybe you’re just a sucker for sob stories. It’s flattering to be in demand, but it’s more fun to make money and not live in stress all the time, especially if you’ve developed a reputation for being someone who can fix disasters.
I’ve heard lots of horror stories. For example, a resume writer worked all weekend to finish a client’s “emergency” request for a new C.V., didn’t ask for payment up front, and then the client ghosted after receiving the resume. Unfortunately, this is way too common.
Some clients urgently need a logo by the end of the week, even though they’ve failed for months to provide needed design information. Some coaching clients “desperately” need to talk today due to their own bad time management.
I’ll raise my hand here. I’ve been that pain-in-the-butt client who didn’t get her shit together in time or procrastinated until I had no choice but to ask other people around me for help ASAP. But I’d never consider asking people to do it for free!
I also often want to skip the queue if someone is booked out. I’m an instant-gratification gal who hates waiting, especially if I have an idea I want to implement or that I need feedback on quickly. I’m happy to pay more for it, though, because I know I’m asking a lot.
Do you need lots of time and space to do your work, or do you love the adrenaline rush of finishing jobs quickly and meeting intense deadlines? Your capacity is a huge consideration when setting and increasing prices, as is your lifestyle. Do you really want to work long evenings and weekends for little money and ungrateful clients? Hell no!
The problem is that many entrepreneurs unwittingly create this scenario by saying yes to last-minute requests and not charging enough in the first place. If you keep attracting clients who are disorganized and expect you to fix their problems, you either need to change your marketing, put some new boundaries in place, or create a whole new offering with a price that works for you.
Recognizing the fact that you’re attracting high-maintenance clients is actually an opportunity to create a lucrative premium service for your business.
As a client with money to spend, I hate waiting to receive a service. For example, I once had to wait 12 weeks for an appointment with an energy healer because her low prices put her in such demand. I would have paid double to see her earlier (and I told her so).
You could set two-tiered pricing: a standard one and another to “jump the queue” for impatient people like me. For example, if your wait time is now several weeks or months, you could easily increase your prices. But if you added a premium service, you could cut wait-time down to a week.
Here’s how that works: You could allocate three days a week to regular clients who have to wait in a queue. But you could reserve one or two days a week for people who don’t mind paying a premium to see you sooner.
Does that feel unfair? Why? Lots of businesses offer this kind of service, and people don't balk at paying more for certain things. You pay extra to online retailers to have your package delivered faster, right? Printers provide a fast turnaround at a premium cost, and it’s standard practice for government services such as obtaining a travel visa faster. Why shouldn’t you do it too?
Some businesses use the higher premiums paid by “express service” customers to keep prices low in other areas. So, if you feel bad about charging for fast-track service, you could use a portion of the proceeds to create scholarships for people who couldn’t otherwise afford you.
And by the way, just because what you do is easy and fun for you doesn’t mean it should be cheap for clients. Fast turnarounds are a premium service no matter how long it takes you to complete a project.
One of my Money Bootcampers, creative coach, Bonnie Gillespie, told me that her motto used to be “drama costs more”, but after working on her money blocks, she now says, “drama is someone else’s client”. Ah, doesn’t that feel so much better?!
Most entrepreneurs have a low point in their business where they think, “This isn’t worth it. I should just get a job”. You’ve been there, right?
If you’re attracting clients who always complain, try to negotiate on price, nit-pick over your work, and generally make your life hell, it’s a huge sign that you’re an energetic mismatch to your current pricing. It’s the Universe’s way of forcing your hand to increase your prices, not a sign that you should quit your business, that you’re in the wrong line of work, or you’re not “cut out” for being in business. Please listen, otherwise, those nightmare clients will keep coming!
If you’re obsessing or worrying about a client at 3 a.m., that’s a pretty big sign too. You deserve to have clients who gladly pay you for what you do without stress or drama.
When you charge too little, you think, “I’m delivering so much, and I’m trying to make it so affordable. Why aren’t they happy and grateful?”
It’s not the price. You’re an energetic match to people who don’t appreciate you because you’re not appreciating yourself. You’re just attracting clients who mirror the energy you’re projecting.
Many entrepreneurs ignore the signs and work with someone because they feel obligated to - not because they feel like a fit. Listen to your gut. Pay attention to the red flags that tell you someone has the potential to be a painful client. You can recognize these people by their demands for a discount when you know you’re already affordable, requests for accommodations above and beyond what you’re comfortable with, and the constant overstepping of boundaries.
Do you feel good or resentful when you work with them?
When you charge appropriately for what you do, you’ll attract clients who mirror your self-worth back to you. Plus, when you’re not desperate for every single client, you’ll feel empowered to say no to the ones you know aren’t going to work out!
My friend, author and coach, Natalie MacNeil calls this a “fuck off price”. She says, “This is your internal pre-determined number of what you’re willing to work for. If the client isn’t willing to pay at least this as a minimum, then you can absolutely say no to the project, no questions asked”.
Natalie says her fuck off price came from the 80/20 rule. The lowest-paying 20 percent of her clients were the ones who caused the greatest amount of stress. Increasing her prices helped her focus on clients who actually appreciated her.
You don’t have to work with painful people. Increase your prices and often, they go away!
Someone recently told me that she wanted to lower the price of her coaching packages because she was so good at getting results that her clients ran out of things to talk about in multiple sessions. She basically “cured” them in one session, so she wanted to reduce her prices drastically because she felt guilty. Hell no!
I don’t know about you, but I’d pay a premium to work with someone who was so good that she could get me better results in less time. I highly value speed and efficiency, and I’m willing to pay for it!
Have you noticed that some hair salons charge different rates depending on whether you see a junior or senior stylist? If you’re after the absolute best result, you’ll go for the senior stylist, but it’s only fair that the apprentice doesn’t charge as much, right?
When I started working in a consulting firm, clients were charged for my services at a particular rate per day. As I got more experienced and did more training, they increased my day-rate. The company had no qualms or money blocks about charging more for my time.
There’s a price point for every market and budget, and that’s true of any business. Experience often means better results for your clients, and the better you get, the more you can justify higher prices.
After all, you can help save or make your clients a lot of money when you’re fantastic at what you do. That’s why business is the ultimate meritocracy. If you get amazing results for your clients, you deserve to charge accordingly!
But here’s the problem: Many entrepreneurs in business vastly underestimate their value to clients. Sometimes you need to do research and quantify it for yourself. For example, advertising specialists might look at the return on investment their clients are getting for the ad money they spend. Coaches can quantify whether they helped people to lose weight, find love, or hit other personal goals. What value would your clients put on something that’s priceless?
Don’t forget that your knowledge didn’t come to you for free. Your clients are borrowing your years of education and experience so they don’t have to learn on their own through trial and error. They’re paying you to short-cut their success and give them the best results possible. Your investment in mastering your craft saves them time and money.
Remember to factor that in to your pricing. Experience gives you the right to charge more for what you offer, especially when you create results that have an impact on your clients’ time, income, happiness, love life, health, security, or desire for a better life.
After looking at all the clear signs that you should increase your prices, ask yourself the following questions:
I’d like you to think for a moment. How often do you increase your prices? When is the last time you announced an increase? If you’re anything like the average entrepreneur, the answer is probably “never”, or “not for ages”. In fact, most business owners I know are totally undercharging in the first place, and that’s a recipe for burn-out and can even affect your positioning in the marketplace.
Increasing your prices is something you need to do regularly as a business owner, and honestly doesn’t need to be scary – so let’s look at how you can justify it to yourself and to your clients without feeling bad or like a greedy bitch.
Get honest with yourself - when you think about increasing your prices, do you feel guilty about it?
If you do, that’s actually really common.
When I was first working as a junior in a consulting firm, I was charged out to clients at a certain rate per day. As I got more experienced and did more training, they increased my charge-out price. The company had no qualms or money blocks about increasing my rate.
But when I started working for myself, I charged lower than all the other coaches I knew, and felt horrible every time I increased my prices – even just a little bit.
It’s really common for entrepreneurs to look around at what everyone else is charging and either average it out, or undercharge their competitors. And that’s a HUGE mistake (but don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of resources for you here to help you get over that pricing block).
If you’re in the same boat and the thought of increasing your prices makes you feel sick, I’ve got three factors for you to consider to help you justify it.
There’s a price point for every market and budget, and this is true of any kind of business too. Experience often means better results for your clients, and you can totally justify higher prices.
If you’ve got a lot of experience, you’re confident about the results you can get for your clients and you save them time or money with your expertise, then you deserve to charge accordingly.
Don’t forget that your knowledge didn’t come for free for you either!
Lots of entrepreneurs discount their experience in other areas as totally irrelevant, which is a mistake. All of your experience counts if it helps your clients get results.
It’s easy to forget that learning your craft actually cost YOU money and time too. Your investment in yourself saves your clients time and money.
Remember to factor that into your pricing – experience equals the right to charge more for what you offer.
Are you so much in demand that you’re booked up for weeks, if not months in advance? Well - it’s time for a price increase.
Are you back to back to back with no time to break for a cup of tea or even a pee? I’ve been there!
If you’re super popular, it’s a textbook sign that you’re ready to put up your prices. In fact, you can increase your prices, and the demand probably won’t drop off that much.
TRUST ME ON THIS.
I’m not going to lie. Not everyone will stay a customer with you. Every time you increase your prices, you’ll lose some clients who are no longer in alignment with your rates – and that’s okay.
Even if you doubled your rate, and even if you lost 50% of your client base, you’d still be making the same money, only working half as much.
Honestly, your business could easily withstand a 10-20% price increase without losing too many clients at all. Some might even be willing to pay extra for a VIP option where they can get access to you straight away, rather than waiting in line.
But the principle is – if you’re booked out, you can totally justify raising your prices because you’re probably getting amazing results for your clients.
This one’s the awesomeness factor!
Are you just really, really good at what you do? Well guess what? You can charge an awesome price for it!
If you get amazing results for your clients and they rave about you… you can totally justify charging a price that reflects those results.
After all, you can help save or make your clients a LOT of money when you’re awesome at what you do. And this isn’t just for business coaches by the way - almost every industry helps people improve their lives in a way that can translate into time or money.
It might feel icky, though. You might be thinking, “But Denise, what about the people who really need what I do but can’t afford me anymore?”
This is honestly the biggest reason why entrepreneurs resist raising their prices or charging premium rates – it doesn’t feel fair, and most of us were taught at a young age to be inclusive and friendly.
Here’s the great news: when you’re earning awesome money for being awesome at what you do, it frees up your time and creativity.
Then you have mental space and physical time to create products that are more accessible for those people who can’t afford your higher-end services.
For example - you could write a book, like I did, to take your message out to potentially millions of people in a low cost way. Writing a book honestly takes a lot of (unpaid at first) effort, but if you’re completely booked out (and burnt out), you won’t have time to ever do it.
Or when you have some headspace, you can put your methodology into a course (like my Money Bootcamp), so you can impact more people.
Or you can free up some time to do pro-bono work that’s funded by the amazing income you’re making!
It’s a win/win/win, too. You make awesome money and serve more people.
Don’t worry, it’s normal to be nervous about increasing your prices!
Sometimes people ask me “Surely at some point it just becomes unrealistic to keep increasing prices?”
If you want to increase your prices regularly you have to tie what you do to providing value. You have to show that you are helping your clients get more clients! They need to see that you are helping them make more money or get more clients.
Now, this isn’t as tricky as you think. You don’t have to be a business coach; you don’t have to teach money stuff like I do to help people improve their business. Let me give you a couple of examples… I see a kinesiologist regularly, I sometimes go to see a tarot reader. They both help me get more clients and make more money in my business.
There are a lot of kinesiologists and tarot readers who don’t claim that they’ll help your business but these two have been smart and they target entrepreneurs because they know that what they do can actually create some value for their clients.
I go and see my kinesiologist to help me overcome business blocks or when I’ve hit an income plateau or, you know, when other issues have come up in my business that affect my ability to make money. She helps me clear those blocks, and if her prices have increased, I’m more than happy to pay.
So firstly, figure out how your product or service can help other people in business make more money and get more clients. Yes, it’s as simple as that!
The second thing is you really have to clearly show the value. So say for example you help somebody with their website. How many new clients does that person need to bring in to pay for your services? It’s really good to be able to calculate that. Say for example, you’re a website designer and you’re doing a website for a coach and you know they charge $1000 per client. If you’re charging $10,000 for a new website, then they have to get 10 new clients to breakeven on your price. Show how you can help them increase the number of clients that they serve with the newly designed super beautiful website you’ve made and it’s a no brainer for them.
The third thing is to constantly invest in yourself. If you’re getting better and better at what you do, and you’re saving clients’ time and money, so they don’t have to do the course, they don’t have to read the book, they don’t have to go and figure it out themselves, well that’s extremely valuable as well. It’s saving them lots of time and time in business is money.
So if you can satisfy those three requirements then I think you can increase your prices quite regularly and you really should.
The simple way to break the news about your new prices is to announce it. Just tell people the new price.
The more complicated way is to second-guess it a million times, chicken out of telling anyone, backtrack a few times, vacillate between the old and the new price, and then finally bite the bullet and feel like vomiting every time you say your prices. Ask me how I know this.
The method for picking a new price is the same as for setting the original one: You just pick a number.
I’ve muscle-tested numbers, I’ve used random number generator websites, and I’ve literally flipped a coin. You could add 10 percent (or any percentage) to your current packages or pick a number that’s visually pleasing or meaningful to you. Stop thinking there’s a special pricing strategy; most people are winging it (and second guessing it) as much as you are!
You’ll realize pretty quickly if there is a mismatch and you can tweak it accordingly. There are no rules about how often you can change your price – there’s no pricing police!
The most important thing to deal with is the fear. You’ll convince yourself that nobody will ever pay your new rates and that taking this step will spark a downward spiral into bankruptcy and homelessness. Then (trust me), one day, someone will pay the new price, and you’ll feel relieved for a while—until it’s time to increase your prices again, and the cycle starts all over!
It’s normal to feel nervous, so always remind yourself that it's okay to make money doing what you love. You're allowed to be successful, charge more than others in your industry, and have a wildly profitable business.
You have to believe in the value you’re creating for your customers and then be unattached to the outcome. Remember, some people will complain, some will think it’s a steal. No big deal.
To be really chill about this, you need a plan, so I’ve got some specific advice for:
Some of your clients are getting an absolute bargain, and it’s high time to increase your prices.
How does the previous sentence make you feel? Terrified or relieved? It’s natural if you’re scared about losing some clients. And I’ll be honest: Some people won’t want to continue working with you at your new price. But that’s okay.
Some customers happily shop at both Target and Armani, but that’s not usually the case. You can’t force a Target customer to pay Armani prices, and vice versa.
Most entrepreneurs feel like charging more excludes people, but the truth is that you can’t serve everyone. As you charge more for your work, you won’t be able to take all your customers with you - especially the ones you served during your entrepreneurial apprenticeship (your Target days).
We often think that, if we price ourselves out of people’s budget, nobody else will help them. But this “savior” syndrome can burn you out, make you feel resentful and cynical about your business, and limit the impact you can truly make in the world because you have no extra energy to give.
If some of your customers are no longer aligned with your pricing, it creates space for someone else to serve them at rates they can afford. It creates opportunities for new people in your industry to learn their craft and become leaders in their field. You’re no longer an apprentice and, since you’re your own boss, you have to promote yourself and give yourself a higher salary.
Maybe your expertise has increased rapidly since you first started out. Or you’ve invested a ton in your business and personal growth, so you’re adding even more value to your clients. Or, now that you’ve been working on your money blocks, you simply know that you’re worth more.
You might even realize that these clients are costing you money or other opportunities. This is especially true if you find yourself feeling resentful or feel like the energy exchange between you is unequal.
Guess what? You’re not trapped. You’re allowed to charge more, no matter how long you’ve been working together. You didn’t sign up for life-time servitude.
The script to communicate a new price to an existing client couldn't be simpler. This works best for clients who are coming to the end of an agreed timeframe or project together, but you can adapt it for those open-ended clients too.
You can do this over the phone (which is best) or via email (which is still okay). Either way, you can read it out word-for-word so you don't get nervous.
Before we get started today, I just want to remind you that your current package with me ends on [date]
[Pause for a moment and let them speak.]
I'm really proud of the work we've done together, including...
[List some of the things they’ve achieved as a result of your work together, particularly as it relates to increased revenue or success for them.]
[Pause for a moment and let them respond.]
I'd love to continue working with you to take your [business/life/health] to the next level. You're such a great client to work with!
[Pause to let them respond.]
I'm discontinuing this current package, but I'd love to transition you into my new [awesome package name], which I think is much more appropriate for where you're going in your life/business.
[Briefly explain the new benefits. It genuinely has to feel as if you're graduating them to the next level, not just charging more for the same thing.]
Because you’re one of my existing clients, I'll also give you [a VIP day, free access to another program, or some other benefit] as a thank-you for renewing your contract.
The investment for the new program is $X, and I have a payment plan available. I’ll send you an email message that contains all the information you need to renew.
You don't have to decide today; this is just a heads-up before the current package ends. Do you have any initial questions?
[Definitely stop talking here.]
Ok, I'll send you an email about the new package, soon. Now, let's get started with today's agenda, are you okay if we go an extra [amount] minutes to make up for the time we spent on this?
You might notice that I recommend offering a bonus when you increase your prices as a way of rewarding repeat customers.
Remember the warning I gave earlier in this section: Don’t be too generous and over-deliver in an attempt to “bribe” your clients. The result they get by working with you is the reward. The bonus is just a cherry on top!
The bonus you offer can be extra time with you (not too much), access to another course or program you offer, or some additional bonuses that don’t cost you too much time or energy (which just perpetuates the problem).
To come up with the most appropriate bonuses, I create a matrix, with perceived value on one axis and my investment (in time, energy, and money) on the other. I brainstorm everything I'd like to offer in a package and plot it all out. Then I pick one or two bonuses that make the most sense.
Think win-win. Don’t give away the farm, since it defeats the purpose of a price increase in the first place!
After the session, you can follow up via email with the details of your new package (have this pre-written), and during the next few meetings, remind your client of the deadline for both your rebooking incentive and your price increase. Every single time, follow up with an email message that contains the information they need to sign up. Some people want to take action right away. Make it easy for them to give you money.
In your last meeting with them, ask for the sale. It’s totally okay if they say no, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
People you haven’t charged before might be ones you’ve been bartering with, have been working with in exchange for a testimonial, are receiving certification hours for, or just feel bad about charging.
Either way, get clear about the value you offer and the value of a client’s having skin in the game. Receiving something for free vs. paying for it results in a totally different energy and accountability. Give clients the gift of investing in themselves!
This script is pretty much the same with a few variations.
Before we get started, I just want to remind you that your free sessions with me end on [date].
I'm really proud of the work we've done together, including...
[List some of the things they’ve achieved as a result of your work together, particularly as it relates to increased revenue or success for them.]
I'd love to continue working with you to take your [business/life/health] to the next level. We seem to be a great fit.
When our free sessions end, I'd like to transition you into my [awesome package name], which I think is a great next step for where you're going in your [life/business/health].
As a special bonus for coming on board as an official client, I'll also give you [a VIP day, free access to another program, or some other benefit] to reward you for committing to your success.
The investment for the program is [amount], and I have a payment plan available. I’ll send you an email message that contains a link to all the details you need to sign up.
You don't have to decide today, but do you have any initial questions?
[Stop talking here.]
Ok, I'll send you an email soon. Now, let's get started with today's session.
In theory, this is the easiest one. Just stick your new rates on your website and new clients or students will pay the new prices. But as I’ve said before, easy on the outside means nothing when it comes to money.
Raising your prices for people who haven’t worked with you before is actually a really great sales opportunity. I’ve used this as a brilliant strategy: both with one-on-one coaching services and courses.
It’s totally fine to increase the price as your results, quality, and value increase. My Money Bootcamp has had five different price points as I’ve added more value to the course! Each increase provided an opportunity for a “Get it now!” marketing campaign. Don’t increase a price without a big announcement that gives people one last chance at the old prices.
If you’re a service-based business, definitely send personalized messages to anyone who has expressed interest in your services in the past year. It might be the perfect time, and they’ll be bummed out if they’ve been quietly saving up to work with you and didn’t know your prices increased. Send them a simple message like this:
I’m touching base about working together this year. I have a few spots available on my calendar and want to let you know that my prices are going up on [date].
I’d love to help you achieve your goals, and I think we’d be a great fit because of [explain why].
If you decide to sign up before [date] you’ll get the current price of [amount] and, as a special bonus, I'll also give you [a VIP day, free access to another program, or some other benefit] to reward you for committing to your success.
The current investment for the program is [amount], and I have a payment plan available.
You’ll find all the details and booking information for my current prices here: [link]. After [date], the new price will be [amount].
Would you like to have a brief conversation about working together? You can book a time to talk on my calendar here: [link]
Honestly, you don’t have to overcomplicate it. Just be really clear that your prices are going up and they have to take some action to work with you at your old prices. You can send them straight to the link or invite them to chat with you further.
Let’s talk about a mindset shift you need to make before increasing your rates. You might be saying: “Nobody will ever pay this new price”, and if you believe that, you actually might struggle at first.
I noticed this in myself when I offered an “early bird discount” for my Money Bootcamp. I told myself, “Nobody will pay full price for this,” and guess what? Nobody did! Well, hardly anyone. Ninety-five percent of people took the early bird offer.
At the next launch, I told myself: “This is an amazing value, even at full price,” and that time, just 70 percent of registrations were early-bird. Nothing changed except my belief that it was still worth it at the higher price. That’s not necessarily magic: Customers would have felt the conviction in my words and believed that, even though they missed a discount, it was still worth joining my program.
A similar thing happened when I had to start charging some customers a geographic sales tax. I was convinced that nobody would pay it because it felt “unfair”. For a while, I even covered the tax myself, though it meant losing 10 percent of course revenue from those customers.
Again, I had to remind myself: “This program is an amazing value, and I give amazing results,” before I felt okay about charging them. You might need to go back and read testimonials and remind yourself of the same thing.
You don’t have to make huge price jumps. You might need to acclimatize, like my photographer friend, Claire, did, to new price points every few months. There are no rules, it doesn’t have to be annual, and you can do it whenever you like!
In your journal or in a conversation with an entrepreneurial friend, answer the following questions:
Then take action based on your answers!
If you’re feeling any sort of resistance or fear around increasing your prices but you know deep down it is the path to a successful and profitable business, well now is the time to do something about it. Now is the time to break through that.
I’ve found over the years that success has nothing to do with ambition or talent. Or even hard work usually. In fact, you can have an amazing website, work really hard, have a brilliant product or service, have raving fans and testimonials and still not make any money. I hear it a lot from entrepreneurs who worry, “But my clients love me. Why am I broke?”
It all comes back to mindset. It’s possible that a money block is causing you to repel those high quality clients and instead attract crappy ones that don’t pay! It’s also possible you’re energetically sabotaging your income.
However it shows up for you, it’s really time to release all of that crap and allow yourself to be rewarded financially for your talents.
Business success only came when I recognized and released my lifelong money blocks.
It’s normal to have money blocks but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep them. Especially if you want to have a financially successful business and life.
Know this! You're allowed to be successful, charge more than others in your industry, and have a wildly profitable business.
It’s your time and you’re ready for the next step. Join us in Money Bootcamp today to revolutionize your pricing strategy in your business and start earning what you’re truly worth.