For many freelancers, independent business owners, and self-employed individuals, there’s this task we didn’t account for when we first started out. It’s a bear of a task, which is far more confusing and frustrating than we ever thought could be. That task—pricing.
Determining the price tag that should be put on a pair of sneakers is a very easy task when compared to the perils of figuring out what one’s individual services are worth. When I first started building websites, I charged $10/hour, and even that small amount for such custom work made me cringe every time I gave a prospective client my quote. How good am I, really? Is my work actually worth what I think it is? Can I charge an industry standard (which is way higher than $10/hour) when I’m just getting started? My mother loves my designs, but does that count for much?
These are all questions that I’m sure any business owner in the service industry has asked themselves many times. But the question that tops the pricing question, is the question of what do you charge your family and friends?
What should you charge family and friends?
The answer is simple…charge what you would charge anybody else. Yes, I know this may sound like I’m over-simplifying this issue, but give me a chance, ok?
There’s this underlying, un-communicated expectation that is thrust upon any photographer/designer/consultant/carpenter/plumber, etc., and that expectation is that if we’ve been friends for a while or share the same last name, then I should definitely give you a discount. And if I charge you my standard pricing, I am now a greedy son-of-a-gun who cares more about money than I do about our relationship.
This.has.to.stop. And people, we can help bring this unfair expectation to an end.
How (you might ask)?
If any friend or family member asks you to discount your services, simply ask them if they would be willing to pay you more for your services, since you’re friends or family. Why should I, as the one performing the service, give a discount? Why don’t you give me more money, to show me just how much our relationship means to you?
Ok, wait….probably don’t say it in those words….but you see my point, right? And let’s just clear one thing up: I am in no way trying to subliminally or passive-aggressively communicate to any particular individual. I am writing this blog post because I know this a common issue all my brothers and sisters out there trying to hustle for that buck, often face.
Here’s maybe a better way of responding:….ok, actually, I still have no idea how to respond to bogus questions like that, so good luck navigating that one.
However, all of this to say….you do not have to discount your services, ever! If you feel like you have to, don’t, because then you’ll probably end up doing crappy work, as you mumble obscenities underneath your breath, while you unclog the toilet at Aunt Becky’s house.
It’s better to choose to give from a place of genuine generosity, not out of obligation or from feeling pressured. Generosity is not only in the discount we give, it’s also in the joy we have while giving it. If we give, let’s let it be from a place of thanksgiving on our end, not from a place of expecting thanks on their end.
So, here’s the simple truth: Your services are worth it! If you’ve been successful thus far charging what you’ve charged, then friends and family should feel happy that they get to pay you instead of a stranger. This is truly the only fair solution I can come up with.
Be encouraged; you’re not alone. Pricing is weird….especially when you throw family and friends into the mix. Stand firm on your pricing, and then choose to be generous when you can.
Joel Widman Owner
Anderson The Fish