You’ve done it. You’re officially a freelance social media professional. You have everything you need: your website, business cards, official email address.
But there’s just one thing missing: new clients.
You most likely have a handful of clients that you’ve been working with long term. You know, the ones who inspired you to dive into this freelance business. But as the months have gone on, your new leads seem to be drying up. What could it be?
Have you taken a look at your pricing structure? That could be the main culprit. While you definitely shouldn’t be undervaluing yourself, there’s a chance you could be pricing yourself out of the market.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to figure out if you’re charging too much for your social media services, and how to build a more client-friendly price structure.
Everyone Gets Paid, No One Likes to Talk About It
Let’s face it. This is one of the more (if not the most) touchy subjects when it comes to freelancing, or any job for that matter. Everyone charges a price for their services, but it’s hard to get a conversation started with how or why they charge what they do. So, when you’re designing your pricing structure, most of the time it’s a shot in the dark.
When you first got started, you may have given discounted or free services to get your name out there. Then as more clients started rolling in, and your expenses started adding up, you increased your prices to cover what you were spending and still make a profit. Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, depending on your target market, what’s reasonable to you might be out of budget for them. So how can you decide on a more accessible fee for your services?
First, let’s take a look at the markets you’re serving.
Target Market Matters
Who you’re working with can have a lot of influence on how you price your services. For example, my side business targets yoga studio owners and fitness and wellness practitioners. Generally these business owners are sole proprietors or partnerships and don’t generally have a huge budget for marketing. So I need to price my services with that in mind. I may offer a lower price per project but am prepared to have several irons in the fire at once to make up for it financially.
Each situation will be unique, but if you’re working with small businesses or in a specialty niche like nonprofits, their budgets may be more limited than if you’re working with a medium-sized companies. Take some time to survey the landscape and do some research on what a typical marketing budget looks like for your target market.
Then consider how savvy your prospective clients are. A small business owner with limited social media experience may be willing to spend 10-20 percent of their budget, while a larger company with more knowledge of the landscape may allocate a larger chunk. You could even take the step of surveying businesses that fit your client profile to get an idea of what they’re willing to spend.
Next, let’s dive into the next layer of your pricing strategy: covering your expenses.
Spending Money to Make Money
It’s no secret that when you’re running a business you have expenses that need to be covered. Things like office supplies, a cell phone plan, and internet are givens. But for a social media professional, there are other things that come into play:
- Website domain payments
- Your own social media advertising
- Social media tools
- Coffee (just kidding – sort of)
As you probably know, these types of things can get pricey pretty quickly. An easy way to knock some dollars off your price tag and still make enough to profit from your services is to re-evaluate what you’re using and see if there’s a better, lower cost option out there. Take a look at some of these ideas:
Squarespace for your website
A super user-friendly website builder that can help you create a polished looking website without a high price tag. They’ll even provide you with a business email address, and help you set it up with an external email service (Google Apps for business is great for that, and free!).
Price: $18 annual/$26 monthly
Agorapulse for your social media management
When looking for a tool, you want something that includes as many features as possible, while being user-friendly and low cost. Agorapulse is a great option! You can engage, schedule, and analyze right from one tool, and have multiple users and profiles. Win!
Price: Monthly, $49 for 2 users and 3 profiles, $99 for 5 users and 10 profiles. (Or try their free two-week trial.)
Social media advertising
Now, there’s no magic number for this, and it can be tough to recommend what to spend. However, if you do a little digging into targeting for your audience, you can make highly effective ads without emptying your wallet. Testing and research on Facebook advertising will also be your best friend here.
Price: TBD, depending on your situation
After lowering your expenses, you might find that you can also lower your fees enough to allow you to bring in more clients, while still maintaining the same profit margin you had previously.
On the other hand, lowering your expenses might not be enough. You may need to change your pricing structure all together. If you charge by the project, maybe switch to hourly, or vice-versa.
So How Much Should You Charge?
There’s no magic formula to figure out what the correct pricing structure is for your services in particular, even though most of us wish there was. But, armed with this information, and little bit of homework, you’ll be able to find what works right for you!