Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Posting My Prices On My Website: Why I Did It

I never used to do this. Conventional propriety says we shouldn't. But I went ahead and did it anyway: I put 'em out in public, where everyone can see them. Yep, there they are, right out in the open, waving in the digital wind: my prices.

Most of the advice I've been given about price posting says it's a bad idea--because every project is different, and the price you put up may be different than the one you quote a client. The prospect, expecting the "low low price" advertised on your marketing materials, is shocked (Shocked!) to discover that you're quoting something higher. Chaos ensues; the client takes off like a spooked deer; you don't get the job. Whereas if you'd just kept the price hidden until the very last moment, after you've had time to beguile him with your smooth sales talk, he won't care what the price is--he'll just want to hire you.

But I've never been comfortable with the idea of making my prices a big state secret. I've been in actual meetings with clients before, where we've talked about everything but price, and then of course there's this awkward pause...and of course, you know why the pause is there, but you can't talk first because negotiating strategy says you should never be the one to bring up price first; so you're sitting there thinking about how the client is probably mentally laughing at you, thinking she must've read Negotiating 101 and isn't going to bring up the price first; what a dope! and you feel like a dope, and eventually you say something genius like "um.... ichargeseventyfivebucksanhour.... is that okay with you?"

Well, maybe that's not always how it goes for you. But that's how it's gone for me.

Anyway, so when I decided to redo my website, I also decided to put my prices up and see how it went. Here are the reasons I decided to do it.

It disqualifies clients without the budget. I'd just as soon put my price range out there, because in my experience it disqualifies clients who aren't prepared to pay what I charge--without wasting everybody's time.

Because if I were a client, I'd want to see the prices. I know that good writing is worth the money, and I wouldn't choose a writer based on price over quality. But if I could at least get some idea of everybody's range before going to the trouble of explaining my project to several different writers, at least I'd have some idea of who's more likely to charge something I can pay--and who's out of my league.

Because it leaves out that awkward pause. It may work for others, but it's just never worked for me to leave the pricing to the last minute. Occasionally, the client i've been talking to feels that my price is way out of line. Sometimes they try to haggle. But leaving the price til the last minute allows the client to go in with his own idea of what the price should be. And it smacks of smooth talk--it gives an impression that you're "negotiating," in my opinion. When I have my price range out in the open, it looks official--and the client isn't expecting something else going in. Things go much more smoothly.

Since changing my website, I've had nothing but good experiences from having my prices out in the open. I think I might continue to do that, at least for a while. So far, keeping everything direct and up-front has served me well--and I hope it continues to.

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