Always align pricing to how you want to be perceived by your market.
Offering clients pricing based on a sliding scale seems caring and progressive. It seduces you into thinking you’re giving your client better options thus making it more likely they’ll choose you.
And you might even believe it is safer since you can delay the moment of truth in declaring your opinion of what your work is worth while maintaining the flexibility of charging as much as a peer or as little as a less expensive rival.
Which is precisely why sliding scales don’t work and you should avoid using them.
When you price your work using a sliding scale you instantly devalue the service provided and put the client in your debt. This forever changes the balance of the relationship and creates a sense of obligation on both sides that isn’t healthy and can lead to resentment.
At that point, the cost is prohibitive and you’ll soon be faced with the more difficult task of firing a client.
Stop thinking you can buy the approval of your clients by charging less per hour than your work is worth. You can’t afford to worry about what clients will think of you or say if you don’t offer flexible rates and you won’t be able to afford your life if everyone is paying you the lowest rate on the scale.
It doesn’t mean you don’t care about your clients if you won’t heavily discount your fees for them.
Besides, if you lower your fees for some, word gets around and others will demand the same deal — the one you couldn’t afford in the first place — to keep it fair. And I promise you will find out that the clients who pay the least are the ones who complain the most and demand inordinate amounts of your time to keep happy. This causes additional stress and pain you don’t need.
Don’t listen to your inner voice
When your inner voice tries to justify the sliding scale by reminding you that you don’t want to be seen as thinking you’re too good for them, remember it’s your fear of criticism and rejection talking. Maybe you are too good for them. It’s ok. Really. It is.
What’s too good for one person will be just right for someone else, I assure you.
Don’t take on other people’s judgements. It’s counterproductive.
But perhaps one day a situation arises where you do want to change your fee for a particular client. Obviously, you can agree to do it since you are in control and what you charge is your business.
When asked if you are open to another arrangement, take some time to think about it on a case-by-case basis. Then simply do what feels right for you and get back to the person with your answer, no long-winded explanations required.
If you insist on offering a sliding scale in your pricing, consider limiting the number of clients who can participate. When that number is exceeded, put the next person who asks for special reduced rates on your wait list. Or limit the time period for which you’ll offer flexible pricing and charge your full pricing after it expires. Either way, you’ll at least show yourself the respect you deserve by limiting your willingness to work for less.
And that’s just good business!
More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.
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