The debate rages on — to display your prices up-front or not, that is the question.
And it’s a question that plagues freelancers All. The. Time.
Like any good debate, there are strong arguments for and against. Me, I’ve always been firmly in the “for” camp. But nothing convinced me (and will convince you) as much as what I’m about to tell you.
First off, let’s clear the air: YES — you absolutely, positively, need to display your prices on your website, right up front.
A lot of great freelancers left money on the table
Why? Because they weren’t even at the table!
Okay, let’s back up here. One fine day, I was looking to hire a freelancer for my own business. I had really specific needs.
- They had to be a copywriter or someone who had previous experience writing copy
- They had to be reliable
- I wanted someone who understood the Freelance to Freedom Community and audience
Besides this, I had a really specific budget and it was non-negotiable.
I knew exactly what I was looking for. So I put out the call to the community and a couple of Facebook groups. Having too much talent is a great “problem” to have. Not being able to sort through tons of websites super fast was not.
I had a million tabs open, sorting through everyone’s work, going through their projects and testimonials. Do you know how many I exited?
Here’s the thing: there’s one of me and tons of great copywriters and content creators out there. I need to sort through everyone of the great people who actually responded to my call fast.
The websites I left either encouraged me to “book a discovery call” with them or contact them for more info on prices.
In other words, none of their pricing info was listed right up front and…well, nobody has time for that.
Because I had such a specific budget, I knew exactly what I was willing to pay. And I knew I was not willing to sit through a thousand hours of “discovery calls”, only to find out that they were either:
- Wayyyy outta my budget
- Wayyyy under my budget (which is Greek for “less experience”)
Luckily, for me, this meant a relatively small shortlist of people to choose from — those who had put their pricing on their websites.
Unluckily for the very talented freelancers who threw their hat into the ring…they left money on the table because, for me, the information was incomplete.
Why this likely stops potential clients from reaching out
Here’s what you should take away from my hiring experience:
- I was deterred because I knew my budget: it was specific and non-negotiable
- So many options, so little time, as it is, to go through everyone’s sites
- I simply didn’t have time to go through the process of a discovery call (and the follow-up that comes along with it)
- I moved on (I had to).
- I created a shortlist of candidates from a really small pool of people who did have pricing info.
In other words…they showed up to the table.
Something Things Never Change: Arguments Against Putting Pricing On Your Website
I’ve heard it all before. But hearing is not believing — not in this case. Many “gurus” will tell you to be coy with pricing because:
- Then you can “custom quote” — offer a tailor-made price point that accounts for everything they’re looking for (minus everything they’re not)
- You can “play it by ear” — or, rather, a freelancer can quote based on the client’s budget (which, obviously, you can only figure out when you talk face-to-face with them)
- With a discovery call, you’re not committed or locked into a single price
To which, obviously, I have several counters:
- You can always custom quote, based on an intake form (I talk about that extensively in my Stress Less & Impress module on the “Hire Me” form when getting started)
- Sorry folks, but freelancing is not settlement poker, where one side tries to get the other side to reveal their “bottom line” — this makes the client-freelancer relationship feel way too adversarial, setting us off on the wrong foot…
- You can use the contract to lay out everything that is included in the price, what’s not included and how much those extra pieces will be — so, technically, you’re not really locked in. No one’s putting a ring on it.
The Ideal Client Experience is Not About You
Are you sensing a pattern here?
Every one of these arguments “against” pricing on websites comes from the perspective of the freelancer.
Who benefits from a custom quote? Who’s worried about being “locked in”? Who wants to try and quote based on budget?
Here’s my bottom line (this is a poker-free zone): client services are not about you.
Your ideal and potential client’s experience should be about them: their needs, their wants, their benefits earned. In my case, my needs were about time. For others, it might be a question of transparency, for example.
Yes, all freelancers have a stake in their work and they should expect clients to appreciate and respect that. But the way to do that is to anticipate what your client needs and respond to it before they even know they need it.
Empathy works. Always, and especially when it comes to the ideal client experience.
As a freelancer, you can always convert a client from just “client” to true-believer by simply putting yourself in their shoes. So if time is their issue, like it was for me, make it easy for them to say, “Yes!”
Of course, this means that, really, you’re winning too. Right?
Why Up-Front Pricing Is a Strategy that Works for Both
If you were kind of annoyed at that whole “it’s not about you” thing, thinking “Leahhhh, okay, but…I’ve got bills to pay and I have to be strategic!” Hey, I get it. And I’m here to prove to you that that’s best for your client has a funny way of coming full circle, delivering benefits right to you.
Why pricing on your website works:
- Avoid the cheapos right away who are contacting you just to get a low-ball quote (ew)
- Don’t waste your time going through a proposal process with people who are just “window shopping” — you don’t want to be one of the many
- Don’t turn away those who think that, “Discovery Call” is Latin for “Sales call where I try and sell you on my exorbitant prices” — i.e. they may think you’re wayyy outta their budget
- People who love transparency and time-savings will love you forever (me)
- You’ll actually get people who are in the range of what you want to be making, who will justify your quote based on their project
- Your pricing will tell them about your value: so if you quote high and have the testimonials or portfolio pieces to back it up, they know they’ll be getting quality
- They’ll appreciate you, in the long run, so much more
A word to the wise: if you’ve never given up-front pricing a try, think about this. How crazy would it be if you walked into a Levi’s store, tried to buy a product and you were told you have to schedule a “fitting appointment” where they ask you about your budget, measure you, custom quote you and then, in the end, it fit…but it didn’t make your butt look all nice?
I encourage you to do some A/B testing. Run your site as is, for a month, and then see what happens to the quality and profile of potential clients who come knocking when you put pricing up front.
The difference will be as obvious as your pricing.
Join the conversation!
We’re talking about this topic in the FTF Community Facebook group right here.