For the first couple of years of the life of my business I agonised over how to price myself competitively. But how do you price yourself against the high street? Well the answer is that you can’t.
What I have learned is that I produce a particular product. I have finally started to develop a style that I am recognised for and I have stopped worrying about trying to appeal to all budgets. There are some battles you will never win. At the end of the day if you want my product you simply have to pay for it and it’s yours.
This also applies to styling. Thankfully there don’t seem to be that many good stylists around in this region. I am already a minority and bookings are definitely on the up. If you want to book me, my rates are there. Very occasionally I offer special deals to genuinely ‘pushed for budget’ clients such as final year students. And on very rare occasions I will do TF work for exceptionally high quality clients, recognised names or those where I get to call the shots on the styling and my latest collection is being featured for an editorial. It is rare but it does occasionally happen.
For design work, there is no point trying to appeal to a high street shopper unless they are looking for something very specific and are commissioning me based on their requirements. Making off the hanger as a small business is a no win for me and largely not worth my time or effort. I need to appeal to a different clientelle that understands the process, knows what they want and wants a tailor made service. These people exist. Letting them know you are out there is all about your marketing.
For me, work isn’t just about getting by anymore. In the past I managed to keep my prices relatively low by working from home and taking on a lot of retail alterations work. As long as I was able to survive off my business earnings, as far as I was concerned, I was winning. And in many ways I was. Now that I have moved, have a studio and my outgoings have increased I’ve become much harder on the business sell. It works. But you have to keep your feet on the ground and keep an eye on your finances. If you want to be treated like a business, you have to behave like one. And even three years in, that’s still a learning curve.
Undervaluing my skills has always been one of my problems and I know I am not the only one still getting to grips with that. Learning to understand what you have to offer and why people should pay your price tag is essential to achieving that full sense of business and getting the respect you deserve from your industry colleagues as well as your off the street clients.
Above all I have stopped concerning myself with value for money. I price honestly and never rip people off. I charge by the hour plus materials/ travel etc.What you see is what you get. Maybe that makes me too honest. But at least I have a clear conscience when I charge for my work. Because I know that many of my clients are also hard pushed for cash and ripping people off is not my style.