Social media managers have a lot of fun doing their jobs, for the most part, but there are parts that are absolutely abysmal. For me, it’s pricing myself, as I’m terrible when it comes to asking for money. Seriously, I’m pitiful. I usually take the easy road and accept what people are willing to offer, but I’m not doing myself any favors when taking on new clients. By accepting what people are willing to pay, I tend to sell myself short. So how do you determine how to price yourself? How do you determine what you’re worth?
There is no short and sweet answer to this question because often, discussing money can make things a little awkward, even in a business relationship. The most difficult part of managing a social media business, and doing account management is determining what you’re going to charge people to do it. For some people, even those who begin the process of outsourcing their social media, it is something that can be done on your own, so why pay people? These people are often the most awkward people with which to have the conversation about money, and there is no easy way to do it.
- Ask Around – Find out what other people are making from their social media management services, or their freelance writing. There is a danger in pricing yourself, and not simply accepting what is offered. Sometimes we tend to get somewhat overzealous, and we price ourselves out of an affordable range. When people come to me complaining that they can’t acquire or retain a solid clientele, the first question I ask is in regards to their pricing. By asking others what they’re paying for their social media, and other professionals what they’re charging, it allows us to get a scale on which to base our rates.
- Don’t Deviate – When you’re pricing yourself, the number one mistake is to offer people the same amount of service for different amounts of money based on how much you think you CAN make from them. I recommend a menu of services, each containing the same price for the same services. If you encounter a client that you be to be high maintenance with requests and trouble calls, attach a potential hourly rate for your services, and make them aware of the said rate before handling anything above and beyond what a normal social media manager does.
- Fair vs. Unfair – If you’re working astronomical amounts of hours for one client, and they’re paying you peanuts, that isn’t fair to you or your other clients. If one client dominates the majority of your time and doesn’t command a large portion of your budget, you’re being robbed. If you’re charging a client a ridiculous amount of money, and not putting in the hours, you’re the time thief. The best way to determine what is fair is to keep a tally of your hours spent, then divide their monthly rate. If it’s less than minimum wage, you’ve probably undervalued yourself. If it’s more than a lawyer’s hourly rate, you’re stealing and should reevaluate.
- Don’t Raise Rates – This is not a hard and fast rule because if you have a long-term client, inflation happens. However, don’t quote one price for a contract, wait four months and then inform that client that you’re raising your rates. After one year, evaluate your pricing, and if the situation calls for it (due to subscription prices, software prices, etc.) raise the rate. I must warn you though, keep the rate hike fair. Raising a client’s prices by a huge jump is a risky maneuver, as you run the risk of losing the client.
- Be Consistent – Offer consistent work on a consistent basis. Whether you’re sick, you’re tired, or your kids are keeping you up all night, you’ve made a choice to be in this business and you’ve got an obligation to put your back into your work. If you’re not putting your all into it, you don’t deserve your money. If there is any hard and fast rule, it is that you must deserve it; you don’t get paid for less than. Too many people forget this, and will phone it in every once in a while, but don’t.
- Make Yourself Valuable – The best advice I can give when it comes to naming your price, and actually earning your money is to make yourself indispensable. Make it impossible for people to survive without your services, and don’t give away your secrets. Telling people the way you do things, and walking them through every step of the way, is going to come back and bite you. If they know all of the tricks, they’re not going to need you to help them with their social media anymore. Keep them a little bit in the dark, but still be transparent about what you’re doing.
Attaching a price tag to yourself is never an easy thing. Too often, we’re shy about what we think we are worth or on the other side of the coin, we’re too confident about our work and we overprice. Overpricing yourself is that fastest way to lose work in a big hurry, but underpricing yourself is the easiest way to burn yourself out. Doing your best, for peanuts, is going to make you resentful, and easily make you tire of your work. When you find that perfect number, hold onto it, and don’t waver. If it seems too low, it probably is. If it seems too high, it probably is. Find your happy medium.