Here at Braid Creative we aren’t really known for doling out business-specific advice. What we are known for is branding and business visioning. That means we’re coaching, designing, writing, and branding creative entrepreneurs so they have the confidence and clarity to package up what they do and offer it to the world. But we only take our creative entrepreneurs so far – after they work with us they still have to put themselves out there in a way that makes it easy for their dream customer to find them and buy them. Over the years we’ve gotten really good at attracting our dream customers, talking about money, and pricing our own offerings in a way that never makes us feel apologetic or insecure. So today I want to share a few of our pricing secrets.
PRICE WITH YOUR GUT
Anytime I have to make a decision about money, like how much I want to charge for an offering or service, I go with my gut. Try this: literally pretend as if your brain resides in your core and ask yourself “Does $500 feel right? How about $1,000?” Your body holds a lot of wisdom if you’ll just listen to it. (This is also a good way to determine how much money you would like to be making!)
CRUNCH THE NUMBERS
Okay, this is the opposite of intuitive pricing and going with your gut. Run the numbers – how much money do you need to live your life? How much do you want to work? Let’s say you want to make $100,000 a year and you want to work on 2 projects a month – that means each project needs to be $4,166.66 dollars. So that’s what you charge. If it seems like really obvious and simple math that’s because it is.
GET A SECOND OPINION
My business partner and sister Tara is a gut-pricer like me. So when we’re offered an opportunity where we need to make a decision involving money we blurt out what our guts are telling us at the same time. Sometimes those numbers match up. When they don’t we either split the difference or talk it out and come to an agreement. If you don’t have to have a business partner to get a second opinion, talk money with your significant other, a trusted friend, or hire a business coach to bounce money conversations off of.
PRICING ISN’T PERMANENT
No matter how you price yourself or your products, remember that it’s not permanent. You can always raise your rates or reduce them if that’s what you need to do for the health of your business. Just yesterday I was coaching a creative who felt super queasy about pricing her handmade screen-printed napkins at $20 (though, they’re totally worth $20 each.) It was enough to paralyze her from listing them on her Etsy page. She’s making $0 per napkin if nobody knows how to buy them! I asked her what it would feel like to start at $10 per napkin, sell a few, gain confidence and THEN raise her prices. She said “Wow, that actually feels really good.” She simply hadn’t considered that her prices aren’t permanent.
The last thing I want to say about pricing is that even after crunching the numbers, going with your gut, and tapping second opinions there is never a definite answer or formula that will tell you how much you should charge. If you feel as if you’re figuring it out as you go know that you’re not alone – everyone else is figuring it out as they go too.
P.S. I started a new podcast called Being Boss with Emily Thompson. Next week in Episode #2 we’ll be jamming on how to keep your cool when you’re freaking out about money. See more at our website here.
P.P.S. Our Braid ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration. It will be in-session from January 16-25. Learn more and register here.
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Kathleen here. It’s no secret that I read a lot of self-improvement and non-fiction business books. Right now I’m reading Tony Robbins’ new book called MONEY: Master the Game. I also love listening to podcasts from experts like Seth Godin, Lewis Howes, and Pat Flynn (that is, when I’m not obsessing over Serial – anyone else addicted?). In the morning, over tea and oats, I’m reading blog posts and watching videos from lifestyle and business gurus like Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte.
With all that, I get a lot of actionable ideas from reading up on how to improve my life and my business, but every so often I start feeling bad about not having a six-figure month, or raking in millions like those guys do. These really rich and smart people are all about teaching and inspiring creative entrepreneurs like you and me to be crazy successful with million dollar launches through stuff like positive thinking and smart investments ... but I’m not a millionaire (yet). But sometimes after consuming all the shiny seven-figure hype, I can fall into that rusty old comparison trap. When you’re just beginning, it’s an easy trap to get stuck in. You look at your bottom line and your upper limit and start to feel as if you’re just not enough – not smart enough, or positive enough, or famous enough.
The thing is… I DO run a really successful and growing six-figure business with my sister, but it didn’t happen overnight. Our six-figure business started with a three-figure project. It didn’t happen by launching a product and crossing our fingers. We grew Braid Creative by staying consistent in our method and working really hard for ourselves and our clients. Over two years, thousands of creatives have taken our ECourses, but just a handful at a time each month. My personal blog started with a dozen readers and those people over time became “in-real-life” friends, and their comments had more impact on my blog in the beginning than thousands of faceless “followers” that eventually started reading what I had to say. My point is this: it’s okay if your metrics are small – rock those little numbers because they matter – they set the foundation of your business. Treat the little projects like really big deals and your business will grow and attract the big numbers you desire.
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Over the past three years I’ve been asked a lot of questions when it comes to personal branding and blending the personal with the professional. Today I’m going to address the one I get the most – which is: when it comes to my online presence should I keep the personal and professional together or separate? In simplest terms it comes down to the question of having two websites or one – one for the person, and one for the biz. Creatives are so confused over this issue and I think it’s because we’re taught, or conditioned, in school or at our day jobs to compartmentalize who we are and what we do. That’s the “professional” thing to do, right? Except most creatives want to live authentically and aligned – they crave creative cohesion and know in their bones that blending the personal and professional, online and off, would make them feel well… authentic and aligned. But it’s easier said than done.
For example, here’s an email I received just this week:
I SO admire the way you are able to mesh your adventures and personal life and work all into one platform… and I’m in a place where I wonder if I should continue down that path. My site is kind of all over the place... with my photography sessions and adventures and musings in one. Does remodeling a creepy cargo van into a rambling gypsy wagon really belong next to pictures of newborn babies? Most people would say probably not, but I wonder if you have an idea for that? The reason why I choose to question what most people would say, is that I’ve had so many clients (who usually turn friends), where my adventures inspire them, and make them feel connected to me, which in turns gets them to hire me. I know I’m not the best photographer out there, but I can connect with people and make it a fun experience for them. So, perhaps what I lack in talent, I make up for in authenticity and fun. At least that’s my hope… and what my vision is. So my questions are. 1. should I keep them [the personal adventures and professional services] separate or together; and/or 2. if together, is there a way to have the two semi-connected by bridging the gap between memory-maker and adventure-seeker?
First off, it’s pretty clear that Katelyn already knows the answer to her question. She should absolutely keep her adventures and her services together – not only because it is getting her hired but because she uses photography to make connections and tell stories. Whether that’s the story of bicycling across the United States (which she just did) or the story of a baby being born into this world. If I was having a drink with Katelyn I would first tell her that she is in fact talented. Then I’d tell her that she is the common denominator between her photo sessions, adventures, and musings. Katelyn herself is the gap-bridged.
Here are some other things I hear from creatives who are considering keeping their professional portfolio and offerings separate from their personal blog:
“I’m afraid that my clients don’t want to read about my life.”
First, are your clients robots? If so, they probably don’t want to read about your life. Second, are your clients dreamy? If not, maybe you could attract more dream customers who like and trust you by sharing more of who you are. Third, if you’re clients don’t want to read about your life they don’t have to. They can simply go to the “how to hire me” page of your website and hire you for what you have to offer.
“I’m afraid that my blog readers will be annoyed if I talk about my work.”
If you’re a creative entrepreneur your work is a part of your life. And if your blog readers like reading about your life they’re probably curious about your work. And if your work is something they need, they are far more likely to support or hire you because they already like and trust you. There is nothing wrong with reminding your tribe that you are for hire. In fact, if you’re really good at what you do you are doing your people a disservice by NOT letting them know about your work. You know?
“I’m afraid it doesn’t all make sense together.”
There’s this scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Ferris and his girlfriend Sloane are making out in the museum while third wheel Cameron is having an existential crisis in front of a pointillist painting scored to an instrumental version of The Smiths “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” The camera zooms in on the painting until you just see a bunch of tiny little dots. These little dots, one-by-one, make up the big picture but you would never know it if you were zoomed all the way in. Well, your life is made up of a bunch of dots, and if you create a separate website and platform for each dot they’ll never have a chance to come together to make a big picture.
A CASE FOR KEEPING IT SEPARATE
My friend Shauna is a great example of someone who can keep up with her personal blog, her professional agency site, and her side gig creating The Blogcademy all being in different places. It makes sense for those projects and content to have their own spaces. That said, even though she’s rocking a few separate platforms I can see HER in all those spaces.
As much as I preach about the personal / professional blend, even I have a personal blog that allows me to experiment, explore, and find my “voice” and writing style. But just because I have a blog dedicated to my professional point-of-view doesn’t mean I have to sound like a robot when I’m writing over here. And, believe me, all my followers know about my business, how to hire me, and what’s going on in my work life, just as much as the personal – that’s because my work is a part of my life – it not only puts food on the table but it feeds my soul – so you better believe I’m telling my tribe how to hire me. That’s where some of our earliest and dreamiest clients came from in the first place!
My point is this – don’t let your fear or assumptions of what other people might think dictate how you do you. And the thing is this – there is no right answer. Instead, check in and do what you want. Do what makes most sense to you right now – whether that’s bringing it all together or keeping it separate.
If you want to learn more when it comes to finding the magic in the overlap between the personal and the professional check out our Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do. It is in-session this Friday, Nov. 14-26 – registration closes Thursday! Learn more and see if it’s a good fit here.
Need more guidance on being a creative expert? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s $40 for four weeks of content that will help you dig deep so you can uncover the good stuff and make decisions about what’s next.
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