#008: Seven Great Reasons Why You Should Raise Your Fees Starting TODAY

Summary: In this show, Ed will discuss 7 important reasons why you should NOT compete on price. And why you should raise your fees starting today.

Uma Thurman paid $5 for a milkshake in the movie "Pulp Fiction."

John Travolta was appalled.

After all, you can get a milkshake at McDonald's for $1.50, right?

But then he tasted that cold, creamy treat. And he was sold!

Cheap milkshakes may work in the fast food industry. And everyday low prices might work for Walmart.

But low fees will only lead to disappointment and burnout when you're a freelancer.

In this show, I discuss 7 important reasons why you should NOT compete on price. And why you should raise your fees starting today.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Reason #1: Low fees attract problem clients

  • They're not easy to work with
  • They complain
  • They bombard you with constant emails, calls, requests...
  • Their expectations are often unreasonable
  • They expect you to do more for the same (or less)
  • They continually push the boundaries
  • They're typically not savvy
  • They don't respect you
  • They treat you like an employee, not a valued partner
  • And to top it off, they tend to be the slow payers!

Reason #2: Low fees attract clients that refer you to OTHER low-paying, problem clients

  • They can't wait to tell their buddies about the STEAL they got!
  • Their colleagues are usually just like them
  • Plus, by revealing how much they paid for your services, they've already set the expectation before you event talk with the new prospect!

Reason #3: Low fees attract low-commitment clients

  • They just don't see the value of the EXTRA stuff you bring to the table (your unique value)
  • They see your product as a necessary evil -- as something most others could have done just as well
  • So they treat you like a commodity
  • They're not loyal ... and will drop in a second!
  • They're not in it for the long-haul
  • They don't value quality
  • They don't value your skills, experience, expertise

Reason #4: Low fees repel (or scare off) high-quality clients

  • It shows a lack of confidence in your work and your value
  • Raises questions about your abilities
  • Overshadows all your other good qualities

Reason #5: Low fees get you into a dangerous cycle

  • Almost impossible to raise your rates with that client
  • You'll start seeing yourself as a lower-value resource
  • You'll start believing that story, which will affect your psyche...
  • Which shows up in your conversations with other prospects...
  • Which keeps you at a lower pricing level...
  • And so the cycle goes (hard to break out of it!)

Reason #6: Low fees mean you have to work harder

  • You need more projects and clients to earn the same amount
  • There's a fixed cost to on-board a client and start a new project. You can't make up those fixed costs with higher volume.
  • Fastest road to burnout
  • Very time-consuming to find the number of clients/projects needed to meet your income goal

Reason #7: Low fees are unnecessary!

  • Unless you're just starting out as a freelancer (or have few or no skills), there's no reason for this!
  • Most experienced freelancers will tell you that, in hindsight, they UNDERPRICED their services
  • You're NOT Walmart! Don't fall prey to the consumer mindset of finding the low-cost provider.
  • Take time to find your value and your differentiators
  • Results don't have to be tangible—what are clients saying about your work?
  • Do you deliver on time, every time? Testimonials?
  • Consider declaring a niche or specialty! Are there patterns in your work or the types of clients you work with (industry, type of client, type of strategy you usually work with...). Hear my thoughts about this.

If you enjoyed this episode, I would be grateful if you shared it with friends. The easiest way to do that is by using any of the social media sharing buttons on this page.

Also, it would mean a lot to me if you gave the show a quick rating or an honest sentence or two in iTunes. This is a brand-new show, and ratings and reviews on iTunes help expose the show to people who wouldn't have heard about it otherwise.

Finally, what do you think about these pricing issues? What have you learned from under-pricing your services?

Please let me know in the comments area below.


  • Shannon E. O’Connor

    Ed, thank you so much for your insight and actionable advice. I first heard you in the Writers Den with Carol Tice and have since found my way over here to the International Freelancers Academy. I just registered for your B2B Writing Business bootcamp and I'm looking forward to digging in! You and Carol are fantastic together - I hope you come back and host another event with her soon!

    Thank you again!

    • edgandia

      Thanks, Shannon! I'm so glad you found me. And yes, Carol is a super lady. I need to bring her back on the show. Enjoy the Bootcamp. 😉

  • Maria

    You're always on the money, Ed. Am I being greedy by wishing you'd go further? Most freelancers are treated as – and act like – guns for hire. Not only are results of work hardly ever shared (something that would help in getting higher fees), but freelancers don't even
    think to ask. What about an episode on how to talk with clients and what you should be talking about? Also, if you're not getting quite the fees you want, are you asking for non-monetary compensation (referrals, testimonials, data of any kind)? Sometimes freelancers simply don't know the words to use. Apologies if you've dealt with this issue elsewhere.

    • edgandia

      Thanks for the feedback, Maria! That's a great idea. I can see a couple of future episodes to address this multidimensional issue. Thanks for the topic suggestion. 😉

      • Maria

        My pleasure, Ed. If I might add, I agree there are many aspects to
        this. For example, a freelancer can land really good writing gigs and yet not have the mindset of a business owner … which will make it hard to come up with a good answer when a client looking at higher fees says “no.”

        • edgandia

          Yes, love that! Interestingly, I just interviewed a freelance writer this week for a show coming up in June. The first critical factor she mentioned for her recent success: shifting her mindset to that of a business owner! Anyway, that episode will air in my other show, High-Income Business Writing. Stay tuned!

  • Deb

    I have always gotten so much from your programs and podcasts. I attended one of your first International Freelancers Day Workshops (2010?), but have been out of the online-loop for a couple of years.

    This is a fabulous re-entry program, because it is so relevant to my own problem of "what to charge". I am expert-level in some areas and seasoned amateur in others...thankfully the two areas don't cross paths!

    I started doing web design (FrontPage and HTML) for small businesses (2003-2005). I had no idea what I should charge then, and later discovered that I was giving it away. The clients would disagree.... I was out of the field for several years (until 2009) and basically started from scratch because platforms had changed.

    I have built my skills up to the seasoned amateur level in these platforms by doing free websites for charities and writer's groups, and do not feel slighted about not charging (so far) in that area. However, I am advanced when it comes to hosting platforms, security,etc. and I have no idea how to reconcile the differences.

    On the other side I am an experienced Technical Writer, Illustrator, and Facilitator (CAD, computer applications and security, and training materials), and have never gotten the fees that were available to others with my skills. Perhaps it is somewhat a question of location as well as being female (and not asking what I am worth)?

    I would love to comment on iTunes, but am not a member...will check it out and do it asap. Any suggestions, since I am not a MAC/iOS user (love them, no money)



    • edgandia

      Hi Deb -- thanks for your comment ... and welcome back! 😉

      You might want to check out this article:

      It's been one of our most popular ever, and it's on the issue of how women approach pricing. Eye-opening read!

      RE: iTunes, there's a Windows version. You have to download the installation file and install on your PC. Then you'll have to create an iTunes account, which is free. Thanks for offering to write a review!

      • Deb

        Thanks for the reply and the link to the article. I need all the help that I can get! grin.
        I will definitely download the Win version of iTunes.

  • idesigners

    May be right, up to an extent, but still, we can make a MILLION [yea, I mean Million] dollars without much efforts on sites like Fiverr.com where we get $5 per project!

    My experiments taught me that it works well. We designed 30,000+ logos on Fiverrr alone and could make some bucks out of it. While a Big shark or a thousand dollar designer spends a few days on a logo, we design a few of them in a few hours

    Also, we we are offering Explanatory Video creation for JUST $9 and it works as well!

    • edgandia

      I know some folks have made that model work for them. But most freelancers aren't looking to build that kind of business. This episode is for those who are working with just a handful of clients at any given time.

    • Mervin

      A few hours spent on a logo??? I'd be scared to hand the branding of my business to you guys. There's a lot that goes into logo design and it's unfortunate most clients don't know this. If they did, they'd be willing to invest a little more.

      • Deb

        so true, Mervin. However, the "selling 30,000 somethings at 5 dollars each" is interesting!

        • edgandia

          It's a completely different business model. Definitely not for everyone. I know it wouldn't be right for me.

          • Deb

            I have considered the site for several years...but nothing comes to mind as a marketable product (in the writing area).

    • Nate

      How does that work? So you spend a few hours to make a few logos. Okay, let's say you are making one logo per hour at five dollars per logo, but Fivvr keeps 20% of your earnings, so you are actually making Four dollars per logo. Unless you want to work yourself to death, you can reasonably produce about 40 logos per week. For you to then design your 30,000+ logos, it will take you at least 14 years if you don't take any vacations. And you are making a gross income of $8571 per year which is a poverty income level. But the good news is that if you can keep up that pace for 116 years and not spend any of your earnings, then you will have make your million dollars. Sounds like a recipe for exhaustion to me!!!

      • edgandia