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Don't Use Yourself as Your Pricing Yardstick


by Marcia Yudkin

"I wouldn't pay more than what I charge now."

If you are not a member of your target market, toss this thought about your own preferences out the window this very minute. What you consider a reasonable price has nothing to do with how they spend money. Even if you are a member of the market you are selling to, it's a fallacy to assume that everyone in that group feels as you do. Chances are, some feel that your current rates are more than they want to pay, some feel you're charging just about right and others feel you're a real steal. You probably don't need to sell to all three of those categories and can do well by aiming at those who'd respect you more if you charged more.

The belief that she couldn't charge more than she herself would pay was a huge barrier for a friend of mine who was a photographer. She had to do a lot of talking to herself about her customers' enthusiasm for her work, her strengths as a photographer and the fact that the few colleagues charging more in her town weren't any better at their work than she was.

She also had to steel herself against customers trying to bargain with her. She reminded herself that when she held firm on her fees, most customers did pay what they'd just objected to. Some people bargain mainly as a habit or a game.

Additionally, she joined a mastermind group of other photographers and picked up a few pointers on subtle ways to increase the average amount a customer spent with her. For instance, photographers offering frames in different sizes along with enlargements of family portraits always sold the most of the next to largest size on display. By adding a larger size frame to those hanging on the wall of her studio, she sold more of the next-to-largest size, previously the largest.

Create a solid difference between yourself and competitors to feel more confident about raising your rates. To separate yourself from colleagues, you can emphasize selectivity (you accept only a certain level or kind of client), specialization (you possess more experience and expert knowledge on one aspect of your industry), results (your superiority consists of a spectacular success rate that you can document) or concrete benefits of your work (results that your colleagues also produce but never explicitly point to).

Pricing is a psychological phenomenon primarily, and the road to higher profits begins with getting your own head straight about what's reasonable to charge.


Marcia Yudkin <[email protected]> is the author of the newly updated classic guide, 6 Steps to Free Publicity (Career Press), and 10 other books. As an author, marketing consultant and coach, she has spent 22 years successfully turning words into money. By going to, you can download a free report, "Charge More & Get It," that discusses five common self-sabotaging beliefs that stand in the way of higher earnings.

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