#282: Are You Lowering Your Fee to Get in The Door?

Have you ever priced your work low to get in the door with a new client?

Maybe the prospect drove a hard bargain.

Or maybe you figured you HAD to go low to land the deal.

At the same time, you hope that once the client sees the quality of your writing and how great you are to work with, you could charge higher fees for future work.

Unfortunately, this strategy never works.

And it only opens the door to a whole new host of problems.

In today’s podcast episode, I outline why you need to stop lowering your fees to get in the door with clients—and how you should approach these clients instead.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

You’re Not Walmart

Sure, you might be able to get some clients to accept an occasional price increase over time when you’ve priced yourself low.

But getting your margins back in line is going to be an uphill battle.

Further, when you charge lower fees, you communicate to the marketplace that pricing is your competitive advantage. And that’s always a losing strategy.

It might work for Walmart … but you’re not Walmart.

So don’t fool yourself into thinking that a short-term win (landing the client) will lead to a profitable, long-term relationship. Because it won’t.

Of course, there are other serious problems with using low fees to get in the door. Here are a few of them:

Low Fees Attract Problem Clients

Clients who jump at your low pricing are too often problem clients.

They have unreasonable expectations. They complain when you won’t do more work for them at the same (or lower) rate. They bombard you with questions and requests. They continually push the boundaries.

Overall, they’re a pain to work with.

And to top it all off, they usually delay payment as long as possible!

Low Fees Repel (or Scare Off) High-Quality Clients

For most high-quality clients, low fees are a red flag. It shows a lack of confidence in your work and raises questions about your abilities.

As a result, you scare them off before the conversation even starts.

Low Fees Attract Low-Commitment Clients

Clients who say yes to low fees typically don’t see the value in what you bring to the table.

Instead, they see your services as a necessary evil—and they think any other writer could do the job just as well as you. So they treat you like a commodity.

Which means they have no loyalty. If a better deal comes around, they’ll drop you in a second!

They don’t value quality. They don’t value your skills, experience and expertise.

What they do value is their checkbook.

Low Fees Lock You in a Dangerous Cycle

When you charge low fees, you start a dangerous cycle.

You start to see yourself as a lower-value resource, which negatively impacts your psyche.

It shows up in your conversations with your prospects, which (in turn) keeps you at a lower pricing level.

Low Fees Mean You Have to Work Harder

When you compete on price, you need more projects and more clients to earn a decent income.

You’ll have to spend more time finding them to meet your income goals.

Which puts you on the express train to burnout town.

Does Lowering Your Fees to Get in the Door EVER Make Sense?

Does it EVER make sense to get in the door with low fees?

Yes. But they’re rare exceptions.

This could be a valid strategy if you’re launching a new service and want to test it out with an existing client.

Or, if you’re just starting out, you need to be willing to say yes to EVERYTHING.

What If They Go With Someone Cheaper?

So what if you hold firm on your pricing—and the prospect goes with a cheaper competitor?

You may start to wonder if you’re pricing too high.

Impostor syndrome kicks in, and that nagging voice inside your head starts with the negative thoughts.

But here’s the thing: We ALL question our pricing decisions—and our value. Myself included!

When you start to question yourself, tell yourself this: If a prospect goes elsewhere because they found someone cheaper, that’s not on you. It’s on THEM.

Now, all of this assumes you qualified the prospect well. You understand their objectives and why they’re important to them.

And you showed them what you bring to the table, what makes you different, and why those differences would matter to them.

In other words, you gave context to your fee.

A fee is just a number. Without the right context, clients won’t understand why they should pay you more than the other guy.

So if they understand the context—and they still turn you down because they want to pay less—that’s OK.

Plenty of others will pay your fee based on the context you provide.

So don’t budge. Don’t question your worth. Stick to the plan.

You Can’t Close What’s Not Closeable

The other key point to remember is that you simply can’t close an opportunity that’s not closeable.

You might want it really bad. But if it’s not closeable and you insist on closing it, you’ll almost always regret doing so.

Remember: the goal is not to score every time! The goal is to keep moving the ball downfield.

Critical Pieces of Intel

To help you determine what’s closeable and what’s not, you MUST get the right intel from your discovery calls, such as:

  1. Why did they reach out to you?
  2. What are their goals?
  3. What’s the nature of their challenge?
  4. What’s their budget?

Once you have this intel, you can make a stronger case for why they should choose you if your experience is relevant to their goals and challenges.

You can also highlight the risks of going with someone else.

But if that doesn’t work, winning the deal is going to be an uphill battle.

So don’t spin some fiction that if you’d priced it lower, the deal would have been yours.

Because some opportunities are simply not closeable.

And the sooner you recognize that in the discovery process, the better off you’ll be.



By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1. Grab a free copy of my book.

It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here

2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected]

3. Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.