Now, that we’ve picked our freelance niche (article on that here if you haven’t done it, yet), it’s time to create, package and price our freelance services. This is another step that’s easy to just gloss over. But, let me ask you:
- Do you want to sell more of your services?
- And sell them more easily?
- Without guessing what your clients will pay a premium for?
When I first started freelancing, this stuff was all foreign to me. My first attempt, I just offered up generic “web design” services. And, the response was… “crickets”. Nobody hired me. And, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
- I did nothing to inspire or motivate a potential client.
- To help them understand what I actually did.
- Didn’t demonstrate I was unique in any way.
I was just another “dude” offering web development services. One of the 1000s out there. So, I needed some way to differentiate myself. To stand out in a good way and present my services in a way clients could understand and get excited about.
If you’ve found it “more difficult than it should be” (that’s the classic tell-tale phrase), thus far, to sell your freelance services, 99% of the time THIS is the culprit. If you’re simply offering “web design” or “graphic design” or “photography” or “writing” services…
Selling those services will always be “harder than it has to be”.
- It’s confusing to clients.
- It’s boring.
- It doesn’t set you apart in any way.
And, there are (now) 1000s of people, who offer the exact same services as you, that are demonstrating how they’re unique, who are presenting their services in a way clients can understand and get excited about.
And, who potential clients will quickly move onto from you.
The good news?
It’s not a “you” thing like you might be worrying about.It’s simply a matter of changing how you present your services. And, it’s mostly an easy fix. When I discovered it, it was called “selling on value”. You’ll see it called SaaP (Service as a Product).
For our purposes, we’ll use the phrase “productize”.
And when you correctly productize your services, clients simply understand what they are and what they’re getting… better. In fact, done right, your services will transform into the exact thing your clients have been looking for.
- Dying to find someone who can do it for them.
- Your offers become irresistible to certain clients.
- And, you’ll simply sell more of your services.
And, that’s what I’m going to show you how to do in this article. Specifically, we’re going to cover the following:
- The Four Ps of Productizing Your Services
- Create an SaaP
- Package Your Services
- Charge More By Offering Premiums
- Price Your Freelance Services
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a fully packaged and competitively-priced set of services that will appeal directly to your freelance niche. So, let’s get started.
If you prefer video, I show you how to do all this in Episode 4 of my Let’s Talk Freelance class on Skillshare. You can learn how to get free access to that class by going here.
The Four Ps of Productizing Your Services
When, selling your services, it’s not enough to say…
- “I do graphic design.”
- Or, “I build websites.”
- Or, “I’m a photographer.”
- Or, “I’m a writer.”
You need to be more specific and detailed than that. Much more detailed. And, that’s what the four Ps do. They help you to methodically design a robust service offering that’s exactly what your potential clients want.
And just fair warning, because I know MY personality. It’s really easy to hear what I just said and go, “Aaaaaaaaa. I’ll just wing it.” I’m telling you… it’s gonna bite you. If you’re falling short, at all, of your income goals…
99% of freelancers I work with, it comes back to this. So, ignore at your own peril. In any case, let me show you what to do. So, the four Ps are:
Let’s start with the actual Product…
Step #1: Create an SaaP
I thought we were offering services? This is the first big tripping point for most freelancers. Here’s the insight… the majority of clients don’t want a “service”, they want a thing.
This video explains it well:
Take graphic design. Most clients don’t want “graphic design”, they want a logo. Or a website mockup. Or a book cover.
They just know they have to hire a graphic designer to get those things. So, when marketing, your job is to make it easier for them to find exactly what they want. Instead of offering generic, vague (and confusing) “services”.
Offer clear and specific “products”.
- Logo design.
- Website mockup design.
- Book cover design.
Of course, you gotta figure out what those “products” are for YOU. Fortunately, there’s a site that already does 99% of the work for you:
We’re gonna use writing as our example. So, go to Fiverr and click on the “Writing and Translation” link at the top. Then, “Aricles and Blog Posts” Then, “Best Selling” from the “Sort by” dropdown. Here’s what I see when I do this right now:
This is a list of the best selling services offerings in “Articles and Blog Posts”. If you’re an article writer, you’re staring at a list of exactly what the clients in your market want… already productized for you!
And, look at what you see:
- Health and fitness article
- Funny video game article
- French article
- SEO-optimized article
- Natural hair article
- Soccer article
- About page
Of the top 8 best-selling “Articles and Blog Posts” services offerings on Fiverr, there’s ONE that says, “I write articles”. Every other one is specific and targeted. The client knows exactly what they’re getting.
- An SEO-optimized article.
- Or, a 1,000-word article on health and fitness.
- Or, a 1,500 word article on natural hair care.
See how much clearer that is for a potential client? To them, they’re getting a real, physical thing not some vague, unclear “service”.
So, your job now is to troll Fiverr.
Look in the top menu or do a search and find a niche related to the services you offer. Graphic design, web development, photography, writing, video editing, whatever is… find it on Fiverr. Turn the “Sort by” dropdown to “Best Selling”.
And, see what you can find.
Narrow it down to a core service you’ll offer.
Instead of being a “graphic designer”, you create brand-perfect logos for bloggers and online business owners. Or instead of being a “photographer”, you create Amazon product shot photos for online sellers.
And, to the big questions you’re probably having right now…
“Is this too niche? How can I charge higher prices for such a small deliverable?”
We’ll tackle that in the upcoming sections.
You will have a robust, full offering by the time we’re done. But, you need to start with a core service offering that’s been researched, is specific and you know lots of people out there want. That’s what this is.
If you’re a web developer looking to freelance, check out this article (HERE) I wrote on how to become a freelance web developer because it walks you through the first five things you’ll wanted do to get started quickly.
Step #2: Package Your Services
Next up, is the Package.
Now, that we’re “productizing” our services, we have to be clear about exactly what a client is getting and what they’re not. That’s the packaging.
Take logo design for example. If I hire you to create a logo for me…
- How many variations will you make for me to choose from?
- Or, how many revisions will I get?
- Do I get just the JPG or do I get the source Photoshop files, too?
Because we’re no longer offering an open-ended “service”, these are the kinds of questions clients will have. And, the packaging answers them upfront. And, gives different clients different options at different prices points.
So, once you’ve nailed down the core SaaP you’ll offer, think about what you’ll include. Try to have 3 variations of each. So, for example, a basic level where they get 1 variation, 1 revision and just the JPG for a lower price.
A medium where they get 3 variations, 3 revisions and just the JPG.
And, an advanced where they get unlimited variations and revisions, plus all the source files and 100% license to modify and use as they see fit. Now, you have three different offers that appeal to three different market segments.
So, as you can see, this is where you flesh out your offer and make it robust.
And, it’s no wonder people who actually DO this, just make more.
But, of course, we don’t guess at what these things should be. We research. And, once again, Fiverr is a great place to do that research. So, let’s use another example: graphic design. Head back over to Fivver and this time do a search for “graphic design”.
Set the “Sort by” to “Best Selling” and here’s what I see right now:
So, let’s say that you see 2 of the top 8 service offerings are for “logo design” and you decide that’s what you want to offer as your core service. Great. Click into the first one. Scroll down to where it says “Compare Packages” and this is what I see right now:
And, here you go.
An example of packages laid out right here for you. And, remember, this is the #3 best-selling graphic design service on all of Fiverr. That’s not just the # of units sold. It’s the amount of money made. So, pay close attention to what they’re offering.
They’re doing something right.
And so, you’ll see how they’ve packaged their services. A basic package where you get the logo, in high resolution, 1 variation… for just $10. All the way up to a Premium package where you get all that plus the vector and source files and 2 variations for $45.
Of course, that’s just one offering.
If we click the other one in the top 8, we see this:
More data. What I recommend is you go through the top 10 offerings you can find in this list related to the core service you decided on and see what they’re offering to get a sense for any trends or common themes.
This gives you a starting point to think about YOUR packages.
Now, one thing…
You might look at what’s being offered here and the pricing and think “Uh, that’s nothing for my services. Is this what I have to sell my services for?” Keep in mind, this is Fiverr. It literally sets an expectation about its pricing IN its name.
Everything tends to be lower here.
I see the prices for web developers on here and think, “WTF!?” too.
But, I also sold site after site for 10 times what they charge here… so, don’t get wrapped up in it. The pricing you offer on your site can and will be different. This just gives you a starting point to build your packages.
So, write down all the things you can find that are included in the Premium versions of all the different offerings you look at. We’re going to ignore the Basic and Standard. And, I’ll show you why. Go back to the main search you did.
In our case, it was “graphic design”
Now look through here for any service offerings that are closely tied to your core offering OR anything you immediately think of that are closely related. In our example, our core offering, we’re doing “logo design”.
Well, I immediately think of “website design”.Often times, someone who needs a logo will also need a website. So, let’s do a search for “website design”:
Now, here we want to look for service offerings where the price listed is a bit higher. I’m gonna go with the one at $600:
And, here’s the packages:
Again, we’ll focus on the Premium option and take note of what’s included. Again, go through 4-5 of the higher-priced service offerings you find here and note trends and common themes.
So, now you’ve got a basic offer, “logo design” and intermediate offer, “logo + website design”. Yes, that’s right. Combine the logo and the website into your intermediate offer. This makes it a natural progression and easy to upsell people to later on.
Ok, so last one, then, as you might be guessing is OUR Premium offer. And, it needs to fit and flow naturally from our basic and intermediate. Again, for me, what immediately comes to mind is “Branding Kit”.
All the different graphics someone might need.
So, let’s look for it.
One trick is to use the Fiverr navigation, itself. These categories and sub-categories exist for a reason. They’re not just random. So, if something is on there, it’s because it’s popular. So, if we look at our Graphic Design menu, this is what we see:
The three I marked are what stand out to me as highly related. And because they’re in this list… highly popular. So, we’ve website design and logo design. But, we don’t have business cards and stationery.
Maybe, we could add that as a third element to create our Premium package.
Now, here’s where knowing your niche really has an impact. Is your niche primarily business people? Will they even need business cards? Do they care about stationery and all that? You want your offers to be a natural fit for them.
So, always remember the people you’re catering to as you make these decisions. But, let’s assume business cards and stationery ARE a good fit and see what we get:
In this case, Fiverr gives us a custom page that only includes its “Pro-Verified” service providers. This is a great sign. They wouldn’t dedicate this much time to this if it weren’t a highly popular and lucrative niche.
And, again, here I’m looking for big numbers. So, click on the $1,000 offering I marked above. And, here are the packages:
You get exactly what a stationery kit includes:
Business cards, letterhead, folder, envelopes, social network images and brand guidelines. And, they’re charging $2,500… on Fiverr! So, note all this down. Look at some others and, again, trends and common themes.
So, that’s OUR premium package…
Logo design, website design and stationery kit. That’s your “brand kit”. And, if you just go by the Fiverr prices, you could charge $4,345 for that package. And, that’s a real price that a lot of real people are paying everyday for these services, individually.
But, we’ll talk about pricing in a bit.
Ok so, that’s the process of packaging your services.
I really hope you can see, now, how much more appealing this is to potential clients. How much clearer the offer is to them (and FOR you) and how every question, including number of concpets and revisions, what you get, all that…
- Is handled upfront and crystal clear.
- Clients know exactly what they’re getting.
- And, that’s 80% of the battle as a service provider.
So, your job is to go through and do this for YOUR service. Figure out your packages and exactly what they’re going to included. You should have a basic, intermediate and advanced. But, don’t worry too much about the price, yet.
Make note of the Fiverr pricing, but don’t settle on it.
Because, next we’ll need to make our offerings truly unique AND add things that are going to allow us to charge even more. So, let’s get into that:
Step #3: Charge More by Offering Premiums
Premiums are bonuses. Anything extra you want to add to sweeten the deal. In our graphic designer example, this could be a 1-hour strategy session included ONLY with the highest tier package. Or, maybe every tier gets a 2-minute “explainer” video.
Where you explain the design and why you did it the way you did.
Whatever makes sense. But, something relevant to the main product, but extra. Not expected. In order to push them over the top to buying.
This is where you focus on your competitors and what they’re NOT giving to their clients. Get creative and try to find things you can do extra that’ll make someone hire YOU over the 1,000 other people who do what you do.
So, how do we research this?
Now, it’s time to get off Fiverr.
Instead, we’ll use Google and look for other people doing exactly what you do. Most of the time you can simply add the word “freelance” to the front of your core service. So, for “logo designer”, we’d search “freelance logo designer” on Google.
For a health a beauty article writer, search “freelance health and beauty article writer”.
Or, whatever makes sense.
What you want is to see other freelancers offering the same or similar services as you. Because now we’re going to analyze their stuff and figure out how we can be better. So, let’s go with our “freelance logo designer” example.
Here’s what Google gives us:
The first thing to look for is the ads, not the organic results. Who knows why those pages are ranking as high as they do for the organic results. Could be anything. But, for the ads, we KNOW why, it’s the people paying the most for their ads.
So, these are people spending real money.
Therefore, generally, they are probably converting on their sales pages at a high rate and are making money. Otherwise, they’d stop running their ads. There can be outliers, but we’re not going to look at one, anyway.
So, we’ll account for that. In any case, when I click on the top listed ad and click their “Packages” link, I get this:
Here, we’re just looking for ideas. What are things we can add to our packages, as bonuses, that are unique? And, we already see several that we didn’t see on the Fiverr listings:
- 12 to 24 hour turn-around times (Most of Fiverr’s were several days)
- Mentioning the number of dedicated design teams
- 24/7 chat support
- Brochures along with the logo
Are all these good ideas? Not necessarily. As a solo freelancer, I’d never offer 24/7 chat support. But, I can see how a large company like this might. So, you don’t need to take every idea. In fact, you don’t want to.
The bigger point here is to use this brainstorm your own ideas.
Something nobody else is doing that you can and/or will.
Also, this is just our logo design service. We also have our web design and full branding kit services. So, you’d want to do this for every one of your tiers. For example, if I search for “freelance web designer”, I see an ad for a company called “LogoMines”.
And, here’s their premium package:
Again, several things we didn’t see on the Fiverr side. Notice how they mark most of the items with (FREE). That’s implying that they are bonuses included with the package. That’s the idea behind premiums.
Making the client say, “Wow! I get THAT, too!”
Also, notice how they include “Branding” in their offer and it includes the stationery items we already identified. That’s a good thing. It validates our thinking on that.
So, again, go through a bunch of these and get ideas.
And, something to remember…
Coming up with something completely NEW is good, but it’s not always necessary. Sometimes, what will make you unique is the combination of things you offer. So, if one site is offering 24/7 chat and another 100% ownership rights…
You can be unique simply by offering BOTH.
Something neither of the others does.
The trick is to really think through what would have meaning and impact for YOUR clients. Don’t just add things to add them. Add things that matter and will really make the experience of working with you remarkable… things that make them say, “Wow!”
Ok, so that’s premiums. Next up is pricing. Often, the trickiest part for new and experienced freelancers. So, once you’ve got your premiums nailed down, jump into the next section and let’s talk about pricing and pricing strategy.
Step #4: Price Your Freelance Services
I cover pricing in great detail, using real-world examples, in my Freelancing 101 class: What Services to Offer, but let’s start by clearing up the biggest misconception about pricing. There is no one “right”, true, objective price.
This is a market. It comes down to individuals and what they’re willing to pay for the service you’re offering. That’s it.
“What the market will bear.”
That’s the answer you’re after.
But, there’s a bunch of factors that go into that:
- Perceived quality
- Quality of service
- Supply and demand
- Pricing strategy
- Purchasing power of potential clients
And we could go on and on. So, the question becomes, “How do you figure out what to charge?” The thing you have going for you (if you’ve done everything I’ve talked about up to this point) is you’ve seen a lot of prices by now.
You should have some sense of what others are charging.
And that’s a shortcut through a lot of this. Use those prices as a guide. Those are the same prices potential clients are seeing, as well… and that’s going to largely influence what they think they should pay for those particular services.
With that in mind, then, the biggest thing you need is to understand the options you have in terms of pricing strategy. These are the three I recommend:
1. Penetration Pricing
Fiverr is a good example. Fiverr launched in 2010. At that point, Elance had already been around for 11 years and was a dominant player. oDesk had been around 7 years. Freelancer.com had launched a year earlier.
Fiverr was trying to enter a crowded market with some major players.
So, what’d they do?
That ad is from 2014. It’s how I was introduced to Fiverr. As you can see, they hammered home the point that the services started at just $5. That is penetration pricing. And, they spent years pushing that message…
Until, they had enough market share. Then, and only then, did they move off of it, change their policies and let freelancers start their fees at a higher price. So, if the niche you want to go into is crowded and has some major players in it, this could be how you break in.
Get some initial clients, build up your portfolio, get testimonials, establish a reputation… and then, when you’re ready up your pricing.
2. Competitive Pricing
I call this the “same but more” technique. Remember the list of features we outline for each tier of our services? The idea here is to offer your services as the exact same price as your competitors, but give your clients more, feature-wise.
Here’s an example I recently came across:
The Thera Cane (on the right) are the inventors of this little contraption (as far as I’m aware). So, they’re the big brand name. But, Body Back (on the left) came in and made one with that extra little hook. And, people notice:
So, if you’re looking at these two products and you can get one with the extra hooks and all the extra knobs for the exact same price… which one would you choose? Well, I can tell you. I chose the Back Buddy (I love it, btw. Has helped my back pain a ton. Here’s the Amazon link if you’re interested).
That’s the idea behind “same but more”.
Same price. More features.
So, think about the service packages you just put together. What are some little things you can add that will give you that extra boost? You want the client saying to themselves, “Why would I buy that one when I get this for the same price and it includes all this extra stuff?”
3. Premium Pricing
You see this one everywhere. Take these two cars for example:
The Rolls Royce Phantom
And, the BMW 7-Series:
A $360,000 difference in price, even though, they share the same platform:
Meaning they share a lot of the same design principles and major components. Why is the Rolls Royce $360,000 more? Yes, it likely has different technology and features on top of that platform.
But, $360K worth?
It’s the name: Rolls Royce.
That’s what you’re paying for.
Another example. With membership sites, I often charged quite a bit more than my competitors. Double or triple what they charged in a lot of cases. Yet, I never had a problem getting clients to hire me.
Because, I was the guy who worked with Inc. Magazine and Lewis Howes and Michael Hyatt. I had the reputation and the brand. So, when clients wanted the absolute best to work on their membership site, no matter the cost… I was their guy.
That’s the idea behind premium pricing.
But, there’s two things with this. First, if you’re just starting out freelancing, this is going to be difficult to do. You need your reputation to justify your higher prices. But, if you don’t have past clients, that’s going to be difficult.
Second, this is where you ultimately want to get. People often think that the more a client pays for your services, the harder that client will be to work with. My experience has been the opposite. Those were often the easiest clients.
Because, they understood business. Plus, the reputation and authority I had to establish to get hired by them in the first place… made it so they came into the project ready to listen to what I had to say. That’s why I was there.
There were exceptions. But, on the whole, the more clients paid, the easier they were to work with. And, you’re just going to end up working a lot less and making more money. So, you want to strive to get to this point in your career.
But, you’ll most likely have to start with one of the other strategies. In fact, that’s the last thing I want to talk about here…
The Pricing Process
The big thing I want you to get from all this is you’re never not implementing a particular pricing strategy and you’re always moving toward another one. So, if you’re just starting out and are brand new to your industry and to freelancing.
- No past clients.
- No portfolio.
- No testimonials.
Your best bet is to start with penetration pricing. Deliver the same end result at the same level of quality and service, but at a lower price. It’s just a phase where you’re going to have to “pay your dues”. But, you don’t want to stay here long.
Once you have some good testimonials and quality projects in your portfolio, you want to move into competitive pricing. And, you’ll stay here for quite a while. Keep in mind, you’ll need to keep an eye on your competition and how they’re adapting.
To ensure you’re still giving that little bit more.
Then, after you’ve been freelancing for a number of years and/if you land some well-known clients that boost your reputation. Or, just the sheer volume of clients you’ve worked with… then, you can move into premium pricing.
Just remember, I was 8-9 years into my freelancing career before I did this. So, don’t get too impatient with it. You can make a lot of money with competitive pricing. In fact, some freelancers never move on from it and are completely happy.
So, there you go. That’s how to package and price your services. If you’ve got questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below. If you’d like more direct access to me, then consider joining my Q&A-style course where I talk your questions and make dedicated videos answering them for you. You can learn more about getting free access to it at: https://letstalkfreelance.com.