My Two SenseSmall Business

Small Business Challenge: Believing in the Value of Your Work

Pricing services is one of the toughest challenges when starting a small business.

For writers, it’s challenging just to figure out how to charge: by the hour, the word, the line, per piece? When starting my Raleigh business, I had read many blog posts about setting your writing rates. Try this formula; try that one. Some offered tips for pricing by project. Others remind you to do the math backward from how much you want to earn each year. One guru suggests that the words on a website have inestimable marketing value and that we should charge based on how much business they expect to earn from it — in other words, thousands of dollars.

The truth is we all figure out our way of pricing our services, based on a mix of research, advice and trial and error. The real challenge is sticking to those prices.

A few weeks ago, I received a request for a quote for nearly 100 pages of website content. Most small business owners ask me for three to six pages. I double-checked: were they sure they wanted that many? I gulped, typed up a per-page quote that included editing and revisions, took a deep breath, and hit the “send” button.value

I never heard from them again. And I wasn’t surprised. People can hire writers to churn out content for pennies per page. Because of that, I was tempted to lower my rate for this particular customer in order to secure the job. After all, even at a low rate, it would be a nice chunk of money.

But as many small business owners will tell you, doing so is asking for trouble. A client who haggles over price is more likely to be a pain about every other aspect of the job. In the end, you may regret giving them a lower rate when you should be charging them extra for the headaches they induce.

Believe in Value
Forget headaches though: the real truth about lowering rates for people is that it demeans the value of what writers provide. The words on your pages are what speaks to your clients, your customers. The words represent you. They are emotions. They communicate who you are, what you do. They introduce you, market your business, offer a smile, a chuckle, an explanation about something confusing in your industry. The words on the page will live on your website for many years.

Sure, you can pay $10 per blog post or page and the person you hire may work really hard to produce some great content for that price. Or, he/she will throw something together in a hurry because at those rates, he/she is going to have to write a lot of websites to pay the mortgage and car payment this month.

I cringed when I sent my quote because I knew it sounded high to the customer. But I believe in the value of my work, the value of writing.

Whether you’re putting words together, helping people get organized or offering bankruptcy help, I hope you, small business owner, stand by the value of your work, too.

Share your comment: What experience do you have with believing in the value of your service?