Undercharging is one of those topics that I see come up literally every week when it comes to pricing. It scares the crap out of most people from both ends of the discussion. Some are scared they are undercharging already, whereas others have no idea if they are or not, and some are just throwing out prices into the client pond and hoping for a catch. All of these scenarios are dangerous because undercharging is intrinsically linked to our value mindset and our innermost thoughts and perceptions of how we see ourselves.
So why do we undercharge in the first place?
Undercharging is common, especially in the creative space. There are so many lies and things we tell ourselves when it comes to our value that really throw us off track, and sometimes that leads to undercharging. So let’s look at some of the lies we tell ourselves…
“If I charge less than my competition, I’ll win the job.”
Yep, this one is a biggie straight off the bat. It seems logical, right? If I am the cheaper option, the client will choose my service or want to work with me. This is something that literally every creative you know has struggled with. But here’s the thing. If the client is choosing you over your competition because you are the cheaper option, that leads me to believe that the client values cheap work over quality, that they would rather save a buck than invest in quality work. And that, my creative friend, is a client you DO NOT WANT.
“The skills I have are common, they aren’t worth more.”
I get it, we often think that because something is easy or can be done by ourselves that everyone can do it. But I am telling you right now, the only reason that you can’t see your magic is it’s not for you, it’s for everyone else. Think about it this way. There are others around you that you would turn to who are better at doing things than you are. For me, I suck at baking cakes, so I’m more than willing to pay big bucks for good cake. But to her, she finds it easy to do, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to charge less, right? And nor should you!
“Everyone is going to think I am selfish for charging high.”
If I’m charging high, people are going think I’m money hungry, greedy, and selfish. Sound familiar? You aren’t alone in thinking this, it’s a really common thought of those who are scared of charging their worth. But if you think about things that are expensive, more often than not, you look at them as valuable, and more of a status symbol to be attained or earned. When people upgrade from what they have, they more often than not are looking for something of higher value, and are more accepting of a higher price tag.
“I’m not skilled enough or have enough experience to charge any more than I do now”
Hello limiting beliefs! Good to see you are here at the party (but, like, not really). I like to think that as I work, as I experience new jobs and challenges, and subsequently solve them, I am increasing in value and becoming more skilled, therefore I should be charging more. Now I want to make it abundantly clear, your prices should definitely factor in the experience level you show. But ask yourself this, if you found out that someone with less experience was charging more than you, would that affect the way you are charging now?
“I’m just going to charge what I would be comfortable paying myself.”
If you’re plucking numbers out of thin air, only charging the costs you would be comfortable paying, then you are almost certainly going to be undercharging. And what’s more, there is a really good chance that you haven’t calculated your numbers for your own unique situation, that you aren’t considering your expenses and run the risk of operating at a loss. It’s a bad place to be and we need to get out of that spot asap!