It’s a tricky one. If you include your rates on your site, you might scare potential clients away or undersell yourself. On the other hand, if you don’t include them, people may decide finding out isn’t worth the hassle, or simply assume they can’t afford to hire you.
Everyone’s case is different, and I’m going to help you decide what’s best for you. So — should you include your rates on your website?
You’ll weed out people who won’t pay your rates
This is the most obvious reason to include your rates on your website. Everybody who gets in touch with you will be willing to pay your rates, so there won’t be any excruciating email back-and-forth in which you try to determine how to much to charge and whether or not this is actually worth pursuing.
However, it’s important to note that this only applies if you’re very clear on what will be delivered for the money. Otherwise, you could find yourself in an even worse position, like one of my students did recently:
(Another lesson here: agree on exact payment terms before you start the work. Contracts are your friend: check out OurDeal for an easy way to write and send contracts.)
If you don’t list your rates, people who can’t afford you will get in touch, and it’ll be up to you to figure out who they are. You could end up wasting a lot of time chasing leads that go nowhere. On the bright side, you will develop a timewaster radar and get better at filtering these people out. They will mostly just ask ‘What are your rates?’ or ‘How much do you charge?’ with zero personalisation and little indication that they’re interested in your particular style.
People are more likely to get in touch if they know from the outset how much they’ll be paying
Without knowing your rates, there are some people that simply won’t bother getting in touch with you in the first place — even if they actually would be willing to pay your rates if they knew what they were.
You’re stuck at that price
You knew this was coming, right? If your rates are stated in black and white on your website, there’s nowhere for you to go. You have to charge those rates, even if it becomes apparent that your minted new client would be willing to pay more.
People will make a snap decision based on price
If people know your rates right from the start, and their gut feeling is that it’s too much, they’re unlikely to take things any further… even though there’s a strong chance you could persuade them you’re worth the money if you had chance to talk to them. This is why I don’t include rates on my website. My technique goes a little something like this:
- Send out my kickass prospecting email.
- Filter responses between timewasters and promising leads.
- Respond to promising leads with more questions — do not mention rates at this point, even if they ask. Find out as much as I can about their needs.
- Send a detailed response telling the lead exactly what I would do for them, and how it would help them.
- Get excited response from lead who wants to go ahead with it.
- Send the quote!
- Win the client.
- Celebrate with a victory dance and a cup of tea.
- Get back to work, with a smile on my face.
Essentially, I make people want to hire me before I tell them how much I charge. Then it won’t matter what I quote (ahem, within reason) because I am the only person for the job as far as they’re concerned. It’s about changing the conversation from one about price, to one about value.
You can’t quote different amounts to different people
For example, I can look at two prospective clients who both want me to rewrite their services page. One glance at Client #1 tells me this will be an easy job. I already know the subject, and I’ve worked with the client before so I know they’re easy to get on with and easy to please, and I understand their target audience. But Client #2 runs an extremely technical business, and they’ll want every detail to be just so (as they should!), which could mean multiple rewrites — it’s unlikely I’ll get every technical aspect right on the first shot.
So should I charge a flat ‘services page rate’ to both these clients? Hell. No. Not including my rates allows me to be flexible on pricing, and to quote based on how long I think the job will take me. (Sure, I could quote an hourly rate, but I choose not to. One day I’ll explain why.)
Tips on What Not to Do
Whether you decide to include your rates on your site or not, there are a couple of things you should bear in mind, or you could end up in a bit of a pickle. (And let’s face it, pickle is only good with cheddar. And maybe a slice of pork pie.)
- Don’t say your rates are ‘a guide’. People won’t be willing to pay any more than the highest rate you have listed, so you’ve got nowhere to go but down. And because you’ve said they’re a ‘guide’… people will think they can talk you down. And they’re probably right.
- Don’t waver. Or quaver. Confidence is a key part of commanding high rates. If your rates are listed on your website, stick to your guns. If your rates aren’t listed on your website, don’t drop the price you quote without negotiating something on your side of the deal too, such as a longer timeframe for completion or a smaller workload.
- Don’t blurt out your prices as soon as somebody asks. If you don’t want somebody to make a snap decision based on rates, don’t blurt them out as soon as you’re asked. Persuade your lead that you’re worth the money before you give them a figure.
So Which is Right for You?
There are numerous factors to take into account when deciding whether to include your rates on your site or not. Here are a few questions to help you decide:
- Do you have more clients than you can handle? If yes, include your rates — and make ’em high! — so you don’t waste your time filtering through clients you don’t need anyway.
- Are you actually competing on price? If you’re just starting out and you’re willing to take clients at a lower rate to get some experience, go ahead and include your prices on your site.
- Do you want to experiment with different price points to see what people are willing to pay? Don’t include your rates, then quote different people different amounts and see what sticks.
- Will you absolutely not accept clients below a certain rate? Then go ahead and list your rates — but be warned that you might put people off that you’d otherwise be able to persuade to hire you.
- Do you hate hate hate negotiating rates? Include them on your website then, but bear in mind that negotiating rates is a valuable skill that you might want to experiment with once you’ve secured enough clients to pay the bills.
And I have one final important tip for you: just remember that whatever you decide, you can always change it. When I first started out, I listed my rates. Then I didn’t. Then I did. And now I don’t again. Don’t let this decision paralyse you. For now, just go with your gut instinct (based on my sage advice, naturally), and if you later decide you got it wrong — or you want to try things another way — just fucking change it. Easy. Now stop quavering and get out there and find some clients who’ll pay you what you’re worth.