How to package, price and promote your freelance business
Brands often come to us knowing they need help but don’t know exactly what they need. They want increased brand awareness, more traffic to their blog, a cohesive design, or fast growth, etc. – but they don’t know how to reach their goals.
But if clients can see your services laid out along with how you’ve specifically helped other brands accomplish similar goals, they’re given a clear picture of how you can help them. It’s one thing for business owners to abstractly make assumptions around what they need. It’s another to look at a package and say: “yes, that’s exactly what I need.”
By packaging your services in a way that’s clear, concise and attractive to the type of clients you want, you’ll secure more work, faster. Packaging your services simplifies the information a client is processing and the decision they need to make, reducing cognitive barriers and prompting them to buy your services, faster.
Here are the five steps needed to package, price and promote your freelance services to attract the clients you want.
Step 1: Decide what services to offer
So many professionals – especially freelancers and agency folks – are specialized generalists or general specialists. Meaning, they have many skills that allow them to be fully responsible for a job function, especially in marketing with the rise of the full-stack marketer. For example, a marketer might be an expert in SEO, paid advertising, social media marketing, content marketing and analytics – running the entire marketing funnel. Marketing themselves is all about packaging their services in a way that speaks to their potential clients’ needs and interests.
How do you decide which of your services to bundle together or how to bundle them? How do you know what your clients are going to want?
Having recently launched our Peep packages, we learned that several of the freelancers in our community are pros at packaging their services, so we asked for their insights! Here are their tips.
1) Do your research about your clients and market
If there’s a certain industry or market you want to work in, look at what the leaders are doing. If want to work in e-commerce, for example, take a look at what big brands like Amazon are doing, as well as small but smart brands like AHALife. Keep their tactics in mind when deciding what to offer (setting brand tone, building social following, designing emails, etc.). Look at how they’re marketing themselves and the products they’ve built.
It’s also helpful to ask potential clients and friends in the industry what they’re looking for in your area of expertise. Post a question to a relevant forum or Facebook group asking businesses what they’re looking for.
Peep Krista Gray says:
“When I first decided to offer the services in these specific formats (example below), I collected qualitative feedback from friends, family, colleagues and potential customers. I also spent a lot of time doing research online to see what other services and packages other people were putting out there. My work is a bit unique in that I come from a varied background (#startuplife), so the hardest part was actually figuring out what I could do that would be the most valuable.”
Here’s what Krista’s Crowdfunding Strategy Consult package looks like:
The beauty of packaging your services is that you can focus on the type of work you really want to do – what you’re passionate about. If you create a compelling package around those activities, clients who need those services will find you.
Step 2: Package your services
Packaging your services requires some strategic thought. Service packages should be streamlined and easily digestible. The copy should be in simple language but also tell a story about the impact it will have. Your service package needs to speak for itself in selling your client on what you have to offer. It should lead little to the imagination and leave clients with few – if any – questions.
Here are three guidelines to follow when packaging your service bundle.
1) Reflect on your past work and processes
Reflecting on past successful client engagements or projects will help you outline exactly what you need to accomplish a specific goal. Look back on old projects to determine what worked, what didn’t. What you could have done better or what could have been streamlined. Doing this analysis will help you create a package that’s optimized for success.
Peep David Hathaway said:
“When developing the copy for a package for future clients, I refer back to the steps involved in creating that exact service for other clients. Sometimes, I do additional research to make sure it’s on point.”
2) Get specific in your offering
Offering to “manage social media” might work for some clients, but they’re likely going to want more detail. They also likely have something specific in mind they want to accomplish, but they’re not sure how to articulate or illustrate what it is. The more specific you get with your service packages, the more likely a client is to say – “yes, that’s what we need.”
Being specific when describing your services also eliminates uncertainty. For example, if you’re offering Twitter growth, a potential client might assume you’re going to use bots or black hat techniques and move on before asking any questions. In this case, you might want to include words like “organic Twitter growth” and then briefly detail out the tactics you’d use to build a Twitter following.
Peep Dorie Herman said:
“It took some refining to decide how to bundle my services. At first, they were packaged to ‘help people grow their Instagram following.’ But after only seeing nibbles – no purchases – I realized I had to get *much* more specific. So now, I offer three packages:
1) One for people who completely need to start an account
2) One for people who have an account but need someone to help them with outreach and growth
3) One for consulting services.”
Here’s what Dorie’s Instagram Growth and Management package looks like:
See how Dorie starts out by addressing the client’s goal, then dives into how she’ll accomplish that goal for them with specific tactics. She then lists out what she needs from them, giving a clear picture of time and investment needed before they get started.
3) Take the journalistic approach to the copy of your package
When crafting the copy for your services package, lead with a general overview, then dive into specifics. David says:
“I stay general in the beginning, using an entertaining voice and speaking directly to any overarching hopes a prospective client may have. I make it fun! I take the: ‘Welcome! I have the answer to your problem!’ Approach. However, they will be thinking, ‘but how’. So then, I move onto the incremental steps involved in getting the job done which satisfies their need for proof, as most clients are big on ROI and concrete plans not whimsical ideas. When I move to the middle of my packages I list out concrete steps in simple language. I want even a social media novice to get what I’m saying.”
Here’s one of David’s examples:
See how he includes a free consultation? This is a great way to build trust with your client – by demonstrating how dedicated you are to their success by lending your expertise for free.
Step 3: Price your package
Pricing is going to differ depending on your goals, the market and the industry you’re working in. That said, here’s a general guide to pricing different marketing services.
When pricing your packages, most Peeps seemed to have started too low and had to increase their prices. One way to avoid this is to look back at the hours it took for you to complete a similar project for clients in the past. From there, you can estimate your package cost plus any additional time for admin work, calls, follow-ups, meetings, etc.
“I tried to think about the time it would take me to do such things and what I valued my expertise at. Then I realized I way lowballed myself and refined.”
Krista had a similar experience. She added:
“Since my packages are a bit mixed in terms of what I can offer (design, writing, marketing), a few of my early sales were priced pretty off (read: way too low). There was definitely some trial and error in learning with each accepted (and rejected) project proposal.”
David, on the other hand, thinks it’s a good idea to start low in terms of price and scale up:
“While some of the prices of my packages are low and some are high, pricing is really a balance between what I need to survive, and a way to get clients in the door. Technically, I could do community management for some big Startup for 70k a year, but a package with that rate is not going to bring in any clients. I make the rate enticing, because honestly, once they are happy with the work, income becomes more negotiable.”
“Adjust your price to get the client and to build trust – this trust is invaluable. In your packages, focus more on what you can offer them, than what they will be giving you. I often offer free consultations! Write your packages as if it weren’t even about the money, and this was just some fun project you were super excited to start, but needed to find a client to begin!”
Step 4: Promote your package
Once your package is created, it’s time to share it with the world. Of course, you’ll want to include it on your website or portfolio page – letting your potential clients know it’s an option. Share it on social media as well, especially if you’re offering social media services.
Here are some examples:
Check out my package!
— Valerie Stimac (@vstimac) March 24, 2016
— Kelly Hoey (@jkhoey) March 24, 2016
— Kat Loughrey (@KatLoughrey) March 16, 2016
When writing the copy of your packages on your site and on social, consider what keywords your potential clients might be searching for. For example, when creating the title of your package, consider using very specific language such as “Build your Instagram following” or “Increase organic engagement on Twitter” – that way, the people who need exactly what you’re offering will be more likely to find you.
If you’re using content marketing to promote your services – i.e. writing about topics you’re an expert on – add a call to action to hire you at the bottom of your content (article, newsletter, podcast, video, etc.). That way, you’re more likely to see a direct return from all that time and effort you spent on that piece of content.
Step 4: Measure, reflect and revise
Your first version of your service package is not going to be your last. With each client, you’ll learn something new about your process and pricing, as well as their needs and wants. You’ll also learn more about the market and their target audience. Be ready to adapt and change your packages to produce the biggest return for you.
The most common change we’ve seen Peeps make to their packages has been pricing, most realizing that they initially price their packages too low. Krista said:
“When I broke down the costs of my equipment, programs I needed to use, time and fees, I was barely breaking even on some projects! When I started to get more and more work requests, I raised my prices to a point where some folks did drop off, but the ones who remained interested were dedicated and truly wanted to hire someone they could have a great working relationship with. With higher prices comes higher client expectations, but I love and appreciate that. These are my favorite people to work with.”
Dorie learned a lesson in messaging, as she was attracting an audience that didn’t meet her focus. She added:
“It had not occurred to me that people would want me to manage and create content for their own personal accounts. I thought businesses would be approaching me. In response, I got much more specific about who should buy the packages when I went in and refined my offerings and pricing because personal accounts are not where I want to focus my time.”
Iterating on your package may also mean unbundling some services and only focusing on one offering, or bundling more. Go with your gut initially, then test what works and what doesn’t with a few clients. Eventually, you’ll find an optimized package.
A few more tips for designing and bundling your services
We asked our Peeps if they had any other insights, tips or lessons to share based on their experiences in building service packages. Here’s what they had to say.
1) Although you’re productizing your services, you still need to focus on building strong relationships
“My clients often express how much they appreciate having a relationship with just me instead of having to find several different specialists. While I do the bulk of the work myself, I do occasionally outsource special design requests (like a hand-lettered logo) via a creative brief to a contact in my network, or crazy-complex code to a dev friend (and yes, I write the requirements). I learned that being able to do this well – or translate, so to speak – is a real value add. I wouldn’t have thought of that before.” ~ Krista Gray
2) Start small and make refinements based on feedback
“If you’re like me, you may want to dip your toe in a bit and see what happens, then make refinements. It was hard to know what people would ask for, but I soon realized that their needs and requests were similar, and that made me go back and refine my messaging to be more clear about my services and which would be right for them.” ~ Dorie Herman
3) Speak to your client’s needs, tell a compelling story
“Clients care first and foremost about themselves and their investments. Show them not only what you can do, but HOW you do it, through your tone, attitude, and humor. Because telling a great story to a prospective client about something they already care about (rather than trying to convince them to try your idea) will up your success!” ~ David Hathaway
In conclusion, think about what type of work makes you happy, then reflect on your process – what has worked in the past and what hasn’t – apply your findings to an initial package, promote it to the world, run through a couple of clients, and iterate based on your learnings.
Ready to bundle and promote your services? Create a package on CloudPeeps today!
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