Creative businesses are often very resistant to setting a fixed price for their services. Goods and products? Sure. It would be weird to put your jewellery or garments on Etsy without attaching a price – but for services it just seems wrong. It’s a strategy worth thinking about, however, if you have a service-based offering that is always the same, and results in a definite outcome for the client.
Package Pricing means setting a fixed price for a fixed offer. Most creative practitioners have the ability to create a package price for their work. Some examples of a packaged creative service include:
- a simple logo design;
- a composed musical ‘sting’;
- a short written report or article;
- a video or animation that is fixed in length and style.
The service results in a ‘product’ of some kind, which is why the price can be fixed.
When devising a Package price, it’s best if the price is outcome-based, rather than time-based. A time-based package means committing to that time, which can be a problem for both you and your clients. An outcome-based package isn’t dependent on time – in fact, the less time it takes, the better it works for you as a source of income.
Package prices can also work for the client, because a fixed price is something trustworthy. You’ve guaranteed that the work will cost $500 (or $50, or $1000), and that can be budgeted for. The outcomes should be clearly explained, and as long as you meet the criteria you’ve set all will be well. How long the work takes becomes irrelevant!
Not all of a creative person’s work can be neatly packaged, however. A design overhaul, or a long video, or a piece of creative writing, or the score for a TV show cannot and should not be packaged. It’s dangerous for a creative to offer all of their work as a package or fixed price – this sort of thing should be properly quoted for, because there are too many variables. However, it’s OK to offer a combination of packages and proposals. Develop packages for some common, simple projects or certain types of client work. Use your proposal or quote process for more complex projects or clients who need something unique to them. This allows you to offer flexibility, meet clients’ needs – and still make money.
Lots of creative people also hate putting prices of any kind on their website, because they worry that it will fix their price point, or because their competitors will see their pricing structure and undercut them. In terms of fixing price, that’s definitely an issue, which is why it’s important to explain in your marketing that some offerings are packaged, based on strict criteria and outcomes, and the rest are not. And in terms of competitors? Some will certainly undercut you, and if your clients are shopping for cheap then they’ll be attracted elsewhere. Let them go. There’s nothing you can do about senseless competitors and cheapskates, so stop worrying and concern yourself with clients who are shopping for quality, not price.
Besides, if you have no prices on your website then clients might think you’re too expensive for them. After all, “if you have to ask… you can’t afford it!” Lack of clear packages could be turning off good clients with money to spend.
Here are some tips for devising your Package Price.
Work it Out Properly. Your Package is not based on the time it takes, and you won’t be reimbursed for expenses, so whatever you’re creating needs to be efficient and repeatable. If each Package takes hours and hours more than it should, or involves lots of expenses, you’ll be out of pocket. Your Package needs to be template-based, or parts need to be automated, or a system needs to be created (See our article on creating systems). If costs are also at a minimum, and it doesn’t take you too long to create the Package, you’re in the best position to make money.
Define Clearly What Is Included. It’s vital to set clear expectations for your clients about what the Package includes or the scope of the work. What will be delivered? What’s the timeframe? What does the client need to contribute? Will there be any extra costs or add-ons? Be specific to avoid confusion, otherwise you’ll have confused clients (or you could end up spending too much time on the work).
Be Definite That You Are Open to Custom. Packages don’t work for everything – or for everyone. Some clients will need or want more than your Package includes. Make it clear in your marketing that you can devise a quote or create something custom that fits outside the strict parameters of the Package. This is not an either/or scenario – you can do both Packages and unique quotes for your creative work.
More Than One Choice. What’s better than one Package? Many Packages! Some clients still like to choose, even if the choices are limited. Packages are pre-set and pre-priced, so have to be inflexible. You can address this with multiple Package options, at different price points. You could offer Small-Medium-Large options, or Good-Better-Best, or Basic plus Add-ons. Be clear on differences between the Packages, and you’ll provide your clients with choices and the possibility of an up-sell.
Package pricing may seem at odds with creative work, but if you have something you can offer to clients that is efficient to produce, outcomes based, consistently repeatable and good value or quality (from the clients’ point of view), a Package could work. When done properly, Packages can save you time by eliminating the need for individual quotes on certain kinds of work – clients have clear expectations about outcomes and so tend to be better behaved – and from a marketing angle a Package can open up additional money-making opportunities. It could be the other kind of Triple Threat, so definitely worth a try!