#315: Jonathan Stark on Getting Higher Fees with Greater Confidence

Few topics bring about as much doubt, fear and insecurity as pricing. In fact, pricing is the second topic I get the most questions about — the first being how to land more and better clients.

What should I charge for X?

What should I include in the scope of work? How should I present my pricing? How should I think about my offers or options? How can I maximize what I charge and still land the deal?

And how do I create the conditions that will make it easier for me to command premium prices?

These are just some of the most common questions I hear. And they’re a sampling of what we cover in this episode.

Joining me today is my colleague Jonathan Stark, a sought-after coach and consultant in the software development space. And in this episode we’re doing something a little different. We’re actually interviewing each other. And we’re running the same material in each of our podcasts: High-Income Business Writing and Jonathan’s Ditching Hourly podcast.

Jonathan has had a big influence in the way I price and think about my work. And I can’t recommend his material enough. So make sure to check out his podcast and website, including his 5-page proposal template.

This was a really fun and in-depth conversation that will get you thinking a little differently about pricing. I love the ideas Jonathan brings into the discussion from the world of software development, because as writers and marketers I feel we have a lot to learn from the most successful software consultants. At the same time, you’ll notice that there are also a lot of similarities between our professions.

Anyway, this episode will be well worth your time, regardless of where you are in your business journey or how long you’ve been on your own.

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.

(11:06): What do people ask for when they ask for one of your folks to do something for them? How would they pivot that conversation to appear more like a trusted partner, not an order taker?

One key difference between your world and my world is that, as you just mentioned, in your world, most people don’t know how to write code.

(13:07): So go into your second part of your question is how do you pivot? First you need to determine which camp are they on?

Is this a problem aware only problem and solution aware? Because it’s two totally different paths.

(14:39): For software developers who probably have never hired a copywriter or a content marketer or anything like that, what’s the conversation? What’s the initial contact feel like?

If we’re talking about the middle of the bell curve, it’s going to be we need X and they might even tell you, because we’re trying to achieve Y.

(22:03): How do we know if it worked?

One key difference here is that in my world, you can make a really good living by not digging too deep.

(30:04): What would’ve needed to have happened for you to be really happy with the results?

That’s my version of the home run question. What would it look like if this is a home run? What would this look like for the business if this project is a home run?

(36:46): In the case of three options in a proposal, they build on each other.

  • Plan only
  • Plan and the white paper
  • An engagement

(43:47): How much do you talk with copywriters about picking a niche, picking a target market, or, honing in on who they can help best? Who is their ideal buyer?

When we start working together, that’s where we start because 90% of the time it’s either not specific enough, or it’s very confusing.

(49:10): Here’s the other big one that we haven’t really talked about, which is you can charge more.

If you narrow it down, you can charge more because you become, so to speak the obvious choice.

(55:13): I would say there are two great opportunities that are often missed where you can help plant these seeds.

One is in your discovery call, I would urge everyone to start developing and practicing some key messages around that.

Your proposal should also emphasize these things. Don’t assume that the prospect’s gonna connect the dots.

(01:04:03): So what’s the key, what’s the key next step that the listeners should take? The very first thing they should do?

(01:04:15): I think it’s really take a hard look at your positioning, which by the way, to simplify because it could be a confusing word in my world. It’s about the perception you create in the marketplace. That’s all positioning is.

Learn more about Jonathan:

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.