The Existing Customer Conundrum

Let me start by saying I love my customers, all of them. They give me money; I spend it. But lately I’ve noticed a problem. You see, when I started my freelance career I soon realized that until I built up a respectable looking portfolio I’d have to rely on undercutting the competition on price. Now I have a respectable looking portfolio but I can’t show it off to new clients because my existing clients keep coming back for more work. Who knew the biggest obstacle to increasing my earnings would be too much repeat business. It doesn’t make sense. Right?

Here’s the problem. I love my customers (did I already mention that?) and I’m guessing my customers love me. After all, they keep coming back. BUT, my customers have an expectation of how much I am going to charge them. Unfortunately the prices they are used to do not reflect my opinion of my current value. What do I do?

Well, I’ll tell you. We’re often taught that the customer is king and that it costs 10 times more (or something like that) to get a new customer than it does to maintain a current customer. If this is true that I cannot raise the fees I charge my existing customers from my bargain-basement-break-into-the-industry-prices to my new I-am-the-god-of-all-things-freelance-prices. If I do this don’t I risk losing all of them? Well, yes, and that’s okay. I’m never going to get the fees I feel I deserve unless I start charging them. Unfortunately that means I’m going to have to let some current clients go…

I think a lot of freelancers get caught in the rut of servicing their current clients at their current prices, maybe with a slight fee increase each year, only to find they have little or no time to move up to that next rung in the ladder. You know, that rung that you charge $250/hr. instead of $50/hr.? Worse yet, some freelancers get so used to charging the bargain-basement-break-into-the-industry-prices that they are afraid to quote a price any higher. Get over it! Charge what you are worth!

I was going to end there but I feel I should drop one final little nugget on you (okay, that sounds gross, oh well). When you do finally quote a new (or old) client a price congruent to your value, do it like you mean it. Don’t pussyfoot around… Tell them this is what I charge and tell them with authority. If you don’t you will never get what you are asking for. Also, it helps to use intelligent sounding words like congruent…


2 Responses to “The Existing Customer Conundrum”

  • Denny,
    Domestic bottles at Miss Cue are now $5 (yes including Red Dog) Red Stag is now $10 That is the Price Damn It! “This is what I charge” Congruent…
    But seriously, I agree

  • Dennis says:

    This only applies when all you barstools are full (metaphorically and… un-metaphorically?). Once patrons and barstools are congruent, then you raise prices. All-encompassingly…

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