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How to Get Clients to Choose Your Highest Priced Service

Let me guess: you’ve gone through many stages of packaging up your offerings and services in an effort to make more money from your freelance business.

You may have started with no packages, and just doing custom quotes (then realised you were wasting so much time with custom quotes for people looking only for a bargain)

Then you maybe read about the power of tiered pricing and thought it would be a good idea to bring in people with different budgets.

So you created multiple packages at different price points hoping at least some would see the value in the highest price option.

Or maybe you still do custom quotes but you have “starting at” prices at different levels for different ranges of offerings.

But you’re only attracting clients that want the cheapest option.

I’ve been there.

The first time I wanted to raise my prices, I was scared.

It’s scary, right?

So instead of just raising them, I created higher priced offerings and tried to make them sound much more appealing than the cheapest option.

You know what happened?

Majority of my clients still chose the lowest price offering. Sound familiar?

And I was stuck cranking out work for the same low price, not able to significantly increase my income without working myself into overwhelm.

Here’s the first part of the problem: If you have a low-priced option, you will attract people that are looking for lower prices.

So the solution is simple: Get rid of your lower-priced option.

Delete it (or put it back into page drafts if that feels too final).
Stop promoting it.
Don’t make it visible anywhere on your website.

I know, it’s scary.

You’re holding on to that low-priced offering for dear life, afraid that you’ll miss out on the business of the people that can’t afford your pricier options.

You’re putting all your time, energy and worry into figuring out how to better market your premium services and how to get in front of the clients that are willing to pay more.

But that brings up the second part of the problem: 

Most people don’t know exactly what they want and need.

So even if they are willing to pay a lot more, when they see you have a cheaper option, not knowing exactly what they need, and given the prompt to rationalize spending less by seeing a cheaper option— they choose the cheapest option!

Even though you’ve tried to make it less appealing.

Even though you’ve spent hours on your premium offering trying to make it irresistible.

It’s there.
So they choose it.

When I went the 3-option route for web design, here’s what it looked like:

$1000 custom starter website, minimal add-ons, everything you need to start
$2000 custom website with a few more bells & whistles
$3000 everything you need to have the perfect custom website

The result: I sold a ton of $1000 websites.

Of course, I tried to distinguish these with lots of minute details like how many pages I would create and format, how many extra plugins I’d install, etc.

But clients don’t really understand those details. They want the end result. If the cheapest option looks like it can get them the result, they’ll choose it.

So with the above options, I had to keep taking on more and more clients to increase my income, which led me inevitably to burnt-out.

Then one day, I simply decided to remove the lower 2 options and see what would happen.

No, the clients didn’t stop knocking on my door (I had built up a steady marketing process and referral business to keep them coming).

And they didn’t run away once they only saw one option.

They wanted to work with me and the $3000 website was the only way to do so.

I instantly started increasing my income while being able to take on less clients at a time, freeing me up to work on my passion projects and create some passive income products.

Do you have multiple offerings for the same similar service?

If so, and you’re struggling to get more people to go for the premium option, try taking away the others.

Just try it.
Experiment.

You can always offer them again. (or even better, offer them for limited-time seasonal specials to create some extra interest during slow times)

Then if you decide you miss helping out those who really can’t afford it, create something new for them.

-Leah

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Hmm, this is an interesting point, Leah — thanks for sharing! You got my wheels turning! It’s a bit harder to do this when all your services are not just upgrades of each other BUT I think the lesson that people are just looking for the end result and it’s up to you to decide how best to give that to them is a good one!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Yes- definitely not the same when it’s completely different services. Glad it got you thinking!

    • I was going to say the same thing as Jackie. I used to do this but then instead of dropping to 1 I just created 3 completely different programs/packages with entirely different results. So clients aren’t choosing by price point but by what result they want. Great post Leah!

      • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

        Yes, love that Parijat- great strategy!

  • Damn, Leah, you’re right! I just raised my prices on my lowest package and you just made me re-think the whole thing! I like that you put this process out there for us, it’s super helpful to see how you got to that point. Thanks!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Yay for raising your prices! I’m glad it’s helpful to look at it a different way. This is what worked for me, but it might not be for everybody, so test!

  • Totally feel this! Right now, I feel like most of the time I spend explaining the added value details of why the website costs so much and it’s not immediately understood, so then I’m left with the client choosing the lesser option – without the AMAZING things that really make a website great! Great post! Thanks!
    E

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Yes- it’s can be super hard to communicate value and even when you’re really good at it, the draw of the cheap option can overpower anyone. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

  • I can totally relate with “I created higher priced offerings and tried to make them sound much more appealing than the cheapest option”. I always vacillate between a “starting at” price and the tier system, but I like your idea of having just one offering. I definitely need to build my marketing process though, so I’m curious to see how this would work out for me.

  • This was rather thought provoking. You are a genius, thank you!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      I’m so glad Maria- thank you!

  • Leah, I’ve gone through the EXACT process you describe. I used to offer two different copy support packages (three weeks and six weeks) and of course everyone chose three. So last week I raised my rates a little and made it just one size: four weeks. Still too early to know how this will play out, so I’m thrilled to hear that it worked for you!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Perfect! And what I like about that is that it may not have been the price necessarily but the fear of the time commitment required. So I like that you’re going with something in between. Good luck and I think you’ll see good results!

  • Thanks for this, Leah! I’ve already been considering simplifying my (already pretty simple) branding packages down to just one offering. After reading this, I’m definitely doing it. I’m always trying to completely thrill my clients, so even the ones who chose the least expensive offering get a LOT of time and attention from me (usually way above and beyond what I’ve estimated and packaged up). It just makes sense to do a really awesome offering that allows me give more focused attention to the clients (by taking on fewer clients at a time) and accomplishes the end result they’re looking for.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Yes- the over-delivering quality in us is a big reason too. Let me know how it goes!

  • Leah, what do you think about the research that suggests the 3-tiered option leads people to purchase the middle option most of the time? Because my experience is much more similar to yours than to the research.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Ha- my first draft of this post was “Then you maybe read about the power of tiered pricing and were hoping most people would choose the middle one like everyone says”

      The “research” is exactly why I tried that out as well. I’m thinking it’s because most of the research I’ve seen was always using products or software as an example. Like an ebook, ebook with videos or ebook with videos and a one-on-one consult. And I’m guessing that may have to do with the differences being really easily identifiable things (just one difference at each level). In my case, the differences between web design stuff were too detailed and didn’t resonate with clients enough to make the decision easy to choose higher.

      Is your experience with a service or product? I think I saw you had a tiered thing for a course. So I’d be surprised it wouldn’t work better with tiered in that case. But if not- maybe simplifying the differences or altering the price jump between each. Maybe they are too much or too little for the value difference. Otherwise- Try having only one option and see what happens!

  • Hmmm….I like this idea. I don’t know how it would work w/o the steady client base you mentioned but I like the idea of limiting the options.

  • I’ve had similar experiences (and thought it was interesting in light of the research Mallie mentioned). My best guess? By the time people actually come to *you* for a service, they’ve typically made up their mind that they want to work with you. They don’t know or care how, they just know they want what you’re selling. So they’ll pick the easiest (oftentimes cheapest) way to do so.

    Anyways, great article – shared & saving for my newsletter next week 🙂

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Yes, I totally agree!

  • Thought-provoking! I liked hearing how this played out for you. It makes sense that clients would be looking for the end result they’ll be getting, not necessarily the details of each package. Great article!

  • It’s a funny mindset, how much many of us undervalue our own services. I used to be that writer who grabbed every $5 job but I learned that the $5 client is usually a lot more work than the client who pays a reasonable price for a job.

  • You are a Goddamn mind reader. I’m in the process of dropping my web design offerings and focusing on branding (because it’s where my passion actually lies) and this post has just reinforced all my pricing decisions. Thank you, once again. Golden advice 🙂

  • Such a simple solution and so true! People will only buy what you let them. Definitely something to keep in mind!

  • Such great examples here Leah. People don’t always know what they want or need, so they will do the rational thing and spend less…

    The fact that you had built up a steady following helped when you made this big shift and began to only do your higher-end services.

    This is a great post because I get tired of hearing that “people will always buy the middle option (not true). Gives me something to think about!

  • Such a good point – I have a few tiered services, and a LOT of text detailing all the juicy value they get from the higher end product.

    Good point that people don’t know what they want – other than to get a good end-result… all the text is confusing if they don’t know the terminology.

  • I’ve always wondered about the tiered pricing advice — if we’re not supposed to compete on pricing, why are we making our packages compete against each other? I’m planning to use the one-package strategy when I revamp my services, so hopefully it will work as well for me. Loved the post!

  • Wow….funny how today I just decided to add a lower priced option for web design and right after posting it, I read this blog post. This is definitely making me think twice about the decision to keep that option. If I do, it won’t be for very long. Thank you Leah 🙂

  • Brilliant article, Leah. Thanks. It’s also true that people tend to perceive higher value when something is priced higher. I feel like I get more professionalism and more commitment from clients that pay for a premium service. In a coaching relationship, this means clients will get better results which is great for business!

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