#003: How to Command Higher Fees With This Simple Strategic Shift

Summary: In this episode of Smarter freelancing podcast you'll hear from Ed Gandia on how to command higher fees with a simple strategic shift!

Are you having trouble getting clients to pay you what you're worth?

Sick of all the low-cost providers who are bringing down prices in the creative arena?

I have a different take on all this. And that's exactly what I'm discussing in this week's show. Once you understand what's really going on, you'll have a key piece to solving the "getting higher fees" puzzle.

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.

Mowing Lawns and Freelancing

First, let me set the stage by telling you about my “apocalypse” backup plan.

It's mowing lawns!

But I wouldn't mow just any lawn anywhere—I'd be strategic. I'd go to expensive neighborhoods with lots of young urban professionals. Why?

  • They have money to spend
  • They have nice homes they want to keep looking nice
  • They don't have time to do it themselves
  • They would rather hire a professional and reliable company to do it.

It's the same in the world of freelancing!

One of the most common challenges I hear from freelance professionals is that their prospects and clients don't value what they do enough to pay the fees they deserve.

This could be the result of three things:

  1. You haven't communicated your value
  2. You haven't demonstrated your value
  3. You aren't working in the right markets.

Today I'd like to address point #3 (we'll cover the other two points in future shows).

Which Neighborhoods Are You Targeting?

If I owned a lawn service business, it would be pointless to complain that people in inexpensive neighborhoods don’t value my service!

If I asked you for advice, you'd tell me to go after “hungrier” markets and start prospecting in more expensive neighborhoods—neighborhoods that are willing to pay more for your services.

No matter what your profession, there are probably markets where you could apply your services and get paid well. But to find them, you have to understand how companies prioritize their budgets.

Where Are Budgets Shifting?

Most clients prioritize their internal projects on a scale:

  • Nice to have
  • Important
  • Urgent

When the economy is strong, clients spend money in all three categories. But when conditions deteriorate or the market shifts, budgets focus more on "Important" and "Urgent" items. "Nice to Have" projects are put on hold or scrapped.

Key Point #1: In a competitive economy, freelancers simply CANNOT afford to go after projects that aren't considered "Urgent" or "Important" by their clients.

Key Point #2: Also go after prospects that provide primarily “Urgent” and “Important” services to their own customers.

By doing this, you make your business relatively recession-proof.

But What If I Love What I Do and Who I Work With?

I get that! You don’t have to overhaul your entire business.

#1: Consider other topics/markets you’re interested in.

#2: Experiment with hungrier markets.

#3: Look for new types of clients that work in the area you enjoy and would pay a premium for your services.

#4: Ask yourself what will happen if you continue on the same trajectory? What if the market DOESN'T wake up to what you offer (and aren’t willing to pay more for it)?