“Are you sure she’s the best?” the client asked my friend in a private message.
I’d been writing sales copy for about a year when a friend of mine that I’d written for recommended me to a well-known name in digital marketing. Things went well on the discovery call … or so I thought. Later that day, I got a message from my friend.
“Christa, you need to raise your rates. Like, now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean the person you talked to earlier today that I recommended you to - he called me right after he got off the discovery call. He wanted to make sure you really were the best because the price you quoted him was so low. ‘How can she be the best if she’s so cheap?’”
Yikes. Pricing was a sticking point for me. I had a hard time knowing what I should charge, even though I had proven results for clients. In that moment though, I realized that I was giving prospective clients an inaccurate impression of what I could do by pricing myself too low.
That day I doubled my rates and never looked back. How could I expect my clients to value my services if I didn’t set that standard? No wonder I’d been feeling so stuck!
The truth is, people tend to value something more if they paid a premium for it. In Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, he describes several studies that showed people consistently reported getting better results from a product they’d paid more for … even if it was the EXACT same product, just at different prices.1
More Expensive = More Results?
So what am I saying then? You should charge more just so people will see you as an expert? Um, no. Not at all. In fact, please PLEASE do not do that.
In fact, I’m saying the opposite. Pricing should be a reflection of the proven RESULTS you get for clients. You cannot raise your prices then expect the level of your results to rise to meet it. It doesn’t work like that. Results should ALWAYS come first.
Pricing higher just to be perceived as an expert is a dangerous, slippery slope, and not just for the person raising their rates. Rates without the results to back them up impacts the whole industry negatively.
Fixing What’s Broken
Linda* had paid thousands to have a copywriter create her sales page copy. When the writer returned the finished project, she was not impressed. It didn’t flow well, and she didn’t feel it sounded authentic. Because she’d paid thousands for it, she assumed the copywriter knew what they were doing and ran the campaigns anyway. After all, she told herself, I’m not the copy expert - they are.
The campaign was a dismal failure. Linda had invested so much time, energy, and money in her sales page, and it didn’t even work. She ended up having to have it rewritten, which is how I met her, and she was now wary and mistrusting of copywriters in general. She’d been let down by someone she assumed was an expert and not eager to trust again.
I’ve seen this over and over again. I can’t tell you how many campaigns I’ve been brought in to fix, and in every one the client feels a sense of disappointment and mistrust. I work really hard to help rebuild that trust because I know one bad experience shouldn’t ruin it for the whole industry.
Let Your Results Determine Your Rates
So when SHOULD you raise your rates then? When the results you can get for clients can back it up. When your words can make people money, it’s worth it to them. It becomes less of a Linda situation and more of my situation with the client who thought I was too cheap.
My rule of thumb is raise your level of results, THEN raise your rates.
Better results come from putting in the hard work on the foundations - research, strategy, data analysis, and sales psychology - before you ever write a word. Only then can you create sales copy that meets audiences where they are and brings them willingly to the Buy Now button.
So how did it work out for me when I doubled my prices in a day? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my business. I discovered that because I could back up my prices with results, charging higher rates attracted a higher quality of clients. I was no longer taking any and every client that came my way just to make a buck.
That meant I had more time to spend providing high quality work - which got even better results - because I wasn’t stressed or overbooked. If someone couldn’t afford my services, that was okay. They just weren’t a good fit. I’m not for everyone, and neither are you.
More from Christa Nichols
I wish price was always an indicator of expertise, but unfortunately, it’s not. There are copywriters out there whose rates aren’t supported by their results, and that’s not okay with me. Results first, then rates, okay?
Want to learn more about how to raise your results so you can raise your rates? Written Results Academy is a complete online learning platform for sales copywriters. It dives deep into the four foundations I mentioned above and provides copywriters with all the tools, strategies, and frameworks they need to write the kind of sales copy that moves audiences and gets REAL results - and it opens soon! Click here to get on the waitlist to be the first to know when doors are open.
*Name has been changed.
1Ariely, Dan. Predictably Irrational: the Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Harper Perennial, 2010.
Hi, I'm Christa, an Iowa-based messaging expert specializing in targeted messaging, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. I have one handsome hubby who's my partner in crime (not literally) and two great kids who keep us busy (Track and field! Volleyball! Basketball! All the sports!) Using words to help people promote what they love is my favorite!