Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You’re discussing a potential white paper project with a prospect.
It’s right up your alley. You understand the topic. Maybe you even have a background in the prospect’s industry.
Until you realize that you’re not sure what number to quote.
You know that a professional-level fee for a white paper is $3,000-$6,000.
But that’s a wide range. What should you quote for this white paper?
Worry not, my friend! Here’s my five-point checklist for making the best decision.
#1. Avoid quoting a final number during your initial conversation.
The first rule is to take your time and not rush into a number. Give yourself time to think through the project and all the variables.
It’s okay to quote a fee range if needed, but resist getting pinned down to a specific number until you know more and have had time to digest the info.
#2. Review your notes
Quoting is an art form. A big part of the pricing decision is subjective and based on gut feel. To help you make the best decision, go through your notes from your conversation with the prospect and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the project well-defined?
- Is it something I can do well (or am reasonably capable of doing)?
- Are the prospect’s overall expectations realistic?
- Is this a realistic time frame/deadline?
- Are there too many parties involved? Could this turn into a headache?
- Does this sound like a reasonable person and organization?
- Are they savvy enough to understand what I can/cannot do?
- Do they sound like they’re shopping around?
- Does it sound like they can afford me? Do they “get” the value?
- Did they mention things about me they liked/were impressed by?
- Can I fit this project into my schedule?
I’ve found that asking myself these questions gives me the clarity I need to narrow down my fee range significantly.
#3. Consider where you are in your business lifecycle
Are you just starting out? Then you consider discounting the fee ranges of more established freelancers in your field. Or if you’ve been doing this kind of work for a while and have a great deal of experience, going higher in the range makes sense.
#4. Consider other factors
In addition, ask yourself these questions and reflect on any contributing factors:
- Does it make sense to pursue this prospect and this opportunity right now, based on where I am today?
- Is there an added prestige to be gained from working with this client?
- How do I generally feel about this prospect and this particular project?
- Even if they seemed okay with my ballpark figure, what’s the prospect’s apparent ability to pay me on time? (Always trust your gut on this one!)
- How difficult will it be to secure the business? Are they almost pre-sold? Or will they need a lot more convincing?
- How badly do I need the work?
#5. Score the Opportunity
When deciding on a fixed quote, it can help to use a series of “pluses” and “minuses” that, when added together, move the needle up or down in the fee range you quoted the prospect earlier.
For example, say you quoted $3,000 to $4,000 verbally during your initial phone call with the prospect. But it’s now obvious, based on their responses to your preliminary questions, that this is going to be a challenging project. In that case, you may be justified in quoting $3,800 as your final number.
Once you pick the number, write it down. Then put it away and “sleep” on it.
I’ve found that revisiting your fee with a fresh set of eyes the next day often helps you make a more objective (and less emotional) decision.
Try this approach on your next project quote. And watch some of the stress melt away.