Today’s guest is Susie Jackson, a finance and pricing mentor for freelancers from the U.K. Susie helps freelancers figure out how much to charge and how to manage the financial side of our businesses so we can earn a decent living doing what we love.
Susie is also a freelance copy editor and a Spanish-to-English translator specializing in academic texts for the social sciences.
Susie likes that she’s able to build her business around her energy levels. She also builds in one weekday per month to get out into nature, which is critical for her mental health.
A few years ago Susie became a financial and pricing mentor. Her dad was in banking, so she grew up with healthy conversations and lessons about money. She began offering her “Charge with Confidence” group program in 2020.
Susie doesn’t like the approach that many people take: setting their rates based on industry averages or what other people charge. There’s no guarantee that those rates will cover your needs, which can result in a feeling of helplessness and defeatist attitude. And that often means that clients are dictating what they can charge.
Susie believes we as service providers should be setting our own prices—and do so based on what income we need, not what we think our customers can afford.
Not every client is going to have the budget to pay your rate. That’s normal. If you’re never hearing ‘no,’ you could probably be charging more.
Value and affordability are two different things.
Susie recommends including two options when submitting a quote or a proposal. One quote should align with their brief, but then include a second quote at a lower rate, which requires them to compromise on something. “A negotiation is a compromise.”
Providing two (or more) choices is much better than saying, “I’m open to negotiation,” which Susie never recommends saying to a potential client.
Before pricing a project, we need to do some groundwork. The first thing is to understand your financial needs for both your business and personal expenses and then know what your minimum financial goal is—and then also set an aspirational goal.
You also need to figure out how many hours you can realistically do paid work without burning out. We tend to overestimate our available hours, and the only way to beat this is by tracking time, which helps us see what is realistic and sustainable.
Susie also talks in detail about when and how we should think about increasing our rates. She also gives advice on what language to use with clients when raising your rates.
Susie chimes in to the debate of whether we should put our rates on our websites.
Susie recommends a “profit first” system, which is based off the book “Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine” by Mike Michalowicz. The book wasn’t written for freelancers, but Susie goes into detail of how she’s adapted this philosophy for her business.
Susie also talks about how to track our proposals, projects and finances.
Susie does not believe that people are inherently bad with money. When people say, “Oh, I’m just bad with money,” she replies, “How can you expect to be good with money if you’ve never been taught how to manage it?”
Biz Bite: Use a Task Prioritization Grid
Susie’s free resources, including a budgeting spreadsheet, virtual Finance Fridays office hours, blog posts and more.
Blog post “Task Prioritisation and the System I Use to Manage My Workload”
“Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine” by Mike Michalowicz.
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Episode #28 of Deliberate Freelancer: Take Charge of Your Finances, with Pamela Capalad
Episode #91 of Deliberate Freelancer: #91: All Things Pricing: Project Rates, Day Rates, Retainers and More, with Jennifer Duann Fultz