Tag Archives: How much to charge?

Are Your Clients Getting Too Little?

too little

Recently I was reading an article by marketing provocateur Seth Godin. In his usual challenging manner he hit the nail on the head.

” The hard part isn’t charging a lot. The hard part is delivering more (in the eye of the recipient) than he paid for…Too often, in the race to charge less, we deliver too little. And in the race to charge more, we forget what it is that people want. They want more. And better.”

This got me thinking.  A personal history book or video is a big ticket item for most clients. So what can we do to demonstrate that our clients will get get more than they expected?

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

Emphasize the lasting value of A life story.

When you have an initial conversation with a potential client, use  words such as investment rather than cost, legacy rather than personal history, gift instead of book or video.

I sometimes use a new car analogy. I point out that as soon as you drive a car off the lot, it begins to depreciate. On the other hand, a Life Story appreciates over time. You can’t say that about many things.

Use your professional qualifications.

It’s true that “Cousin George” can probably do the book for half the price. But does he have the experience and professional background to do a first-class job?

When people hire me, they know that not only are they getting an experienced professional personal historian but also a former award-winning documentary filmmaker. My work will be better than “Cousin George’s”.  At least I hope so. ;-)

Look for ways you can make your qualifications stand out.

Give your client more than just a book.

There are a number of ways to add  extras.

  • Include a set of audio CDs of your interviews.
  • Provide a poster size duplication of the book cover.
  • Give a subscription to a a family history magazine.
  • Reproduce a treasured archival photo from the book and have it framed.
  • Organize a launch party for friends and family after the book’s publication.

Find those little extras that add more value to your work.

Emphasize the superior quality of your books.

Have one of your beautiful personal history books to showcase your work. The quality will speak for itself. Point out the exceptional archival paper stock and inks that are used.  Acquaint clients with the  outstanding design elements.

You want to convey the message that these are “Legacy” books that will last for generations.

stress the  good feelings that come with a personal history book or video.

What clients may not appreciate are the positive feelings that arise with personal histories. It’s not just a book or video.

Parents and children talk about feeling closer to each other after engaging in a life story. Parents are touched by the thoughtfulness of their children undertaking such an endeavor. Still other recipients of a personal history find a new appreciation for their life accomplishments.

A personal history is  a connection to the soul.

What are some of the ways that you exceed your client’s expectations?

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Image by iStockphoto

Encore! Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work?

Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work? It’s not uncommon for those starting out in the personal history business to offer their expertise at rock bottom rates. And while this might be important for the first project or two, it’s definitely not a plan for financial solvency and success in the long run. How much are you charging per hour for your personal history services? To give you some idea of where your fees fit with others, I’ve compiled some lists. From PayScale here are … Read More

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup there’s a mix of the practical and whimsical. Having difficulty calculating how much to charge your clients? Sign up now for cj madigan’s Webinar: Calculating Your Hourly Rate: the Key to Profitability. Purchasing a new audio recorder? Then you’ll definitely want to read Choosing an Audio Recorder.  For a break from the practical, take a look at Famous Authors And Their Typewriters. It’s delightful.

  • Webinar: Calculating Your Hourly Rate: the Key to Profitability.Wednesday, June 15, 2011 4 PM Eastern/1 PM Pacific. “This webinar will be useful to anyone who needs to confidently answer the question: What do you charge? It’s particularly helpful for those who have recently left a salaried position and are now on their own as an independent contractor: personal historians, designers, writers, editors, photographers, transcribers, programmers, consultants—anyone who needs to set their own price for services rendered.”
  • A Brief History of the Pun. “…we’re ecstatic for the release of John Pollack’s The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics — an entertaining and illuminating exploration of how wordplay evolved to be much more than a cheap linguistic thrill or the product of bottom-feeder copywriters.”
  • Famous Authors And Their Typewriters. “There’s something magical about catching a glimpse of one of your favorite authors at work – even a photo of the epic event can send an anxious thrill down your spine, as if you might be able to see some hint of literary genius in posture or setting, in attire or facial expression. And it’s even better if they’re working on a typewriter.”
  • Choosing an Audio Recorder. “We have broken down our reviews of audio recorders into five considerations. These are things to consider when purchasing portable digital audio recorders:”
  • How to Podcast. “This is the home of the free podcast tutorial that will take your podcast from concept to launch fast and for minimal cost.”
  • British Library creates a “national memory’ with digital newspaper archive. “The library is one year into its plan to digitise 40m news pages from its vast 750m collection, housed in Colindale, north London. This autumn, the library will reinvent its cavernous vaults as a website, where amateur genealogists and eager historians will be able to browse 19th-century newsprint from their home computer.”
  • Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers. “We’ve all seen them. The train wrecks. The art class projects. The cringe-inducing artwork. It’s the world of do-it-yourself book cover design…But anyone who can write and publish a book ought to be able to avoid at least the worst mistakes in cover design.”

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Are You Charging Hamburger Prices for Gourmet Work?

It’s not uncommon for those starting out in the personal history business to offer their expertise at rock bottom rates. And while this might be important for the first project or two, it’s definitely not a plan for financial solvency and success in the long run.

How much are you charging per hour for your personal history services? To give you some idea of where your fees fit with others, I’ve compiled some lists. From PayScale here are the current median average US hourly wages for some different occupations. The figures are based on ten years experience. Keep in mind these  are average wages which vary from state to state and from large metropolitan areas to smaller cities.

Senior Editor: $29.20
Registered Nurse: $25.49
Master Plumber: $19.65
Writer: $19.64
Flight Attendant: $19.33
Automotive Service Technician: $15.93
Secondary School Teacher: $14.74
Computer repair Technician: $12.12

PoeWar lists the average salaries for writers and editors in mid-sized metro areas for 2010. These are not freelance salaries but writers employed by  companies.  I’ve converted the annual salaries to hourly rates based on a forty hour week and fifty-two weeks of employment. Here are a some of the rates.

Copy Editor:  $10.50/hr to $21.00/hr.
Proofreader:   $14.50 to $20.50
Editor:  $18.50 to $27.00
Senior Copywriter:  $27.00 to $40.00

Guru.com lists 1,084 creative writing freelancers for New York City. My analysis of the data shows that the majority of these writers charge between $20 and $50/hour.

I’m not going to tell you how much you should be charging for your services but scanning these lists suggests that anything less than $20/hour puts you in the hamburger league.

If I haven’t yet convinced you of the need to charge a fee commensurate with your skill and the service you provide, then take a look at this interesting bit of research. Marketing Experiments in 2004 offered an online book with three different  price points, $7.95,  $14.00, and  $24.95. The cheapest priced book was perceived as of lesser value and received 1950 orders for total revenues of $15,500. The $14.00 book had 2400 orders with revenues of $33,600. But here’s the interesting point. The most expensive book while  receiving only 1500 orders managed to make the most – $37,425. You need to ask yourself, “How can I determine what my market will bear?”

Something else to think about. A  Stanford University study showed that when subjects were given the same wine and told that one bottle was $5 and the other $45, people unfailingly found “the expensive wine” tasted better. “So, in essence, [price] is changing people’s experiences with a product and, therefore, the outcomes from consuming this product,” said Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing who co-authored the research report.

What do these studies  say about how you price your personal history services? They show that pricing too low can be perceived by your potential clients as you’re offering an inferior product. People still believe the old adage – you get what you pay for.

So when will you start charging gourmet prices for your work?

Photo by iStockphoto

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