Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Tips for pricing your Squarespace services
One of the biggest hurdles to building a successful business is defining your pricing strategy. Consider these topics when setting your prices.
There’s no easy way to decide how much your time, energy, and expertise are worth. Plus there’s the choice between charging by the hour or by the project. So we put together this exclusive Circle guide to help you nail your pricing strategy and explain your value to new and existing clients.
Where to start
A quick Google search will show you that there’s huge variation in what designers charge for a website and related services. Depending on the designer’s experience and the client’s needs, any two website projects can look very different. Here are a few topics to help you decide where your service offering falls on the pricing spectrum.
Hourly or Flat Rate
Charging by the hour ensures that you get paid for the the time you put into a project, whether it takes one hour or one hundred to complete. If you decide to go this route, incorporate other elements of your work into the rate, like the cost of your workspace, stock photos, and even electricity (more on this later).
Charging a flat rate lets you factor in all of your costs and decide how much profit you want for each project. This is also a good way to set your clients’ expectations ahead of time. For example, some designers and agencies offer a flat rate for a website with a set number of pages, a limited period of support, or a specific number of revisions. The trick here is avoiding scope creep, or the progressive addition of work that wasn’t initially part of the project brief. Anything beyond the initially agreed upon scope of work can earn you an additional fee.
Regardless of whether you choose to charge by the hour or by the project, make sure you know how long it takes you to do your work. Even if you’re charging a flat rate for a website project, you’ll lose resources and profit if a project takes more time than it’s worth to complete.
While it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when defining your pricing, it can be helpful to know what other web professionals are charging for similar work. Savvy clients are known to shop around, so you should try doing some of that same leg work to see what they see, and understand where your offering falls in their set of considerations. If your prices are a little higher, make sure you’re confident in explaining why your work is more valuable. If you’re charging less, try to figure out why; it might be time to reevaluate your pricing strategy.
Sizing up your own skill level can be tricky, but it’s important because it has an impact on how much you can charge for your work. Consider how many years of direct experience you have as well as the depth and breadth of your design, technical, and content management skills. Take a critical eye to the websites you’ve already built and ask yourself how they stack up to what other web designers are creating.
If you’re open to constructive feedback, try sharing your work in the Community Forum to get input from your peers. You can even leverage a survey at the end of each project to gauge your clients’ opinions about the quality of your work. Gather information from every source you can, but be careful not to fall victim to imposter syndrome. If you’ve passed the amateur phase, make sure your prices graduate too.
In all types of business, when demand outweighs supply, prices rise. This goes for you too; after all, there’s only so much of your time to go around. Think about how in demand you are—are clients chasing you down or vice versa? If you’re constantly overwhelmed by work, your prices should reflect the value of your time and the fact that you have others waiting to get started. If you’re still working to finetune your client funnel, take a look at our tips for finding new clients, then adjust your prices once you’ve got a steady stream of work.
Know your costs
You can’t identify your profits until you know what it costs to do your work. Understanding your expenses is key to setting an effective and profitable strategy. Where do you do your work? Do you use any third-party services for stock photography or project management? Keep a record of every work-related cost, so you can keep them in mind when deciding how much to charge for your websites.
If your client expects logos and copywriting for their new website, you might find yourself leaning on other specialists to support your work. If you outsource any part of the website-building process, factor those costs into what you charge. As your business grows, you might consider hiring full-time employees, increasing your capacity, but also adding salary and benefit costs, all of which should be reflected in your pricing.
For example, if you hire a copywriter who charges by the word, you’ll need to estimate the amount of copy needed for the website and pad your price with enough to ensure you can pay the writer.
Especially early on, it’s important to invest time and resources into marketing your business. This will help you build and maintain a steady flow of work. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends reinvesting 7% to 8% of your revenue into marketing your business. You can also use Squarespace’s built-in marketing and SEO tools to increase your site’s visibility to search engines.
Whether you work at home, in a shared workspace, or a private office, workspaces don’t come cheap. Estimate the number of projects you’ll do over the year, and factor workspace costs into your price estimates.
Equipment and software
The cost of laptops, monitors, printers, and any other equipment you use will all come out of your own pocket as an entrepreneur. Consider the costs of maintaining (and eventually replacing) these items in your prices too. For example, laptops have an average usable life span of three to five years. Plan to save enough to replace your equipment regularly so you can stay as productive as possible. Nothing puts a dent in your profits and a hurdle in your workflow like a dead computer.
Other software or service costs to consider include:
Design tools such as Photoshop
Project management software
Invoicing software or services
Time-tracking software (if you opt for the hourly approach)
Download this sample cost sheet to try your hand at calculating your adjusted income and cost per hour or site.
When to stray
Part of knowing your costs is also understanding what the minimum fee you’re willing to accept is for your services. You can think of this as the wholesale price. In cost-plus pricing, this is where you’d then add a profit margin to decide on the final retail price for your products or services. Once you’ve defined these baselines, you can decide when and how far to stray from your standard pricing.
As your skill set and knowledge broaden, you can enhance your service offering and charge more for heartier features or optional add-ons. Some designers and agencies charge more for these add-ons:
Your Circle membership comes with a 20% discount. Some members pocket that discount, while others pass that savings along to their clients as a way of incentivizing new and repeat business. Discounts can be an effective strategy to drive business. Whether you use them to attract new clients, reward repeat and loyal clients, or in some other creative way is up to you. Keep the operating costs from the previous section in mind when deciding on any discounts.
The bottom line
Get a contract
Regardless of how and what you charge, get your terms in writing. A contract will help you set clear expectations and ensure that no surprises come up in the process. Include topics like price, timeline, revision terms, and payment process (both for your services and the Squarespace subscription).
Invest in yourself
A business is only as good as the people running it. You should continually reinvest in yourself and your growth. The stronger you are in skills like design, communication, and marketing, the more value you’ll add for your clients. Try an Authorized Trainer. Trainers offer a variety of in-person and online workshops to help you refresh your skills on Squarespace or learn more about specialized topics like SEO and catering to niche clientele.
Defining your pricing strategy isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it task. Don’t worry too much about getting it wrong the first time. Learn as you go and iterate as your grow.
Check out these Circle community Forum conversations.