As a WordPress freelancer, there is much we can learn from those who sell coffee.
Just think about the various ways you can buy coffee: You can buy coffee beans from your local supermarket to brew your own coffee for about $.10 a cup. Or, you could go to a convenience store and buy a cup for about $1. Or, you can go to Starbucks and spend $3 (or probably even more).
No matter which option you choose, you end up with the same product: a cup of coffee (yes, coffee aficionados will say there are differences in the quality, but it is essentially the same thing: a cup of coffee).
So if it is the same product, why the different pricing? How can Starbucks command so much more for a cup of coffee than your local convenience store, and people be willing to pay it?
It’s because Starbucks realizes they aren’t just selling a cup of coffee. They are selling an experience. From their store design, to customer service, to the food items… when you enter a Starbucks, you aren’t going there just to buy a cup of coffee.
As WordPress freelancers, we can learn from this.
We can choose to either sell ourselves as a $.10 cup of coffee, or command a higher rate.
To do so, we need to shift our mindset.
The Mistakes Most WordPress Freelancers Make
Let me start this section of by saying that the mistakes that I see freelancers making, I’ve made many times in the past (and, at times, still make today).
Ask almost any WordPress freelancer what they sell, and they will give you an answer along the lines of:
“I build WordPress websites for clients.”
It’s the equivalent of saying they sell a ten cent cup of coffee.
If you are just building websites for clients, why would you expect a client to hire you over anyone else? If they are just getting a WordPress website, how is what you offer any different than someone charging $10 an hour. Or worse, just paying their neighbor’s kid $50 to put a site together.
To you and I who have knowledge of what it takes to build a great WordPress website, it makes sense why some freelancers charge more than $200 an hour. But to a client, when it seems all they are buying is a website, they will want to go with the cheapest option.
So we need to shift our mindset from just selling “coffee beans” to selling much more, just like Starbucks does.
How To Get Paid More
Let’s take another look at Starbucks for a moment.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Starbucks realizes they aren’t in the business of just selling coffee. They’ve worked hard to make Starbucks an experience. It really is that experience that they are selling more so than just that cup of coffee.
So what can you learn from Starbucks?
We need to get out of the mindset that we are selling website. Instead, we are selling a solution to our client’s problem or pain point.
For instance, let’s assume there is a local jewelry shop who wants to rebuild their website. And you notice that their website has no online store. You could go to the owner and tell them how they could increase sales by creating a store on their website. Now, instead of just building a simple website, you are building an entire eCommerce platform for them. One which opens a huge market for them with large revenue possibilities.
How can you make this shift?
I think Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative said it best in her talk at WordCamp OC. If you want to shift your mindset from just building websites to building solutions for your clients, you first need to truly understand your clients needs.
Jennifer said that most clients want one of the following:
- To look better than their competitors
- To make more sales
- To close sales faster
- To create new opportunities
- To be more efficient
I would sum it up by saying businesses will make investments in solutions which help them save time, save money, or make more money.
To understand what your client’s needs are, you need to ask the right questions and listen:
- Ask them about their business
- Ask about their customers
- Ask why they need this project done
- Ask how NOT doing this project will affect their business
- Ask how completing this project will CHANGE their business
Asking these questions will lead you to a deeper understanding of your client and allow you to position your offering in a way that’s more desireable to them. One that is no longer a cost to their business, but an investment.
We are not in the business of simply building WordPress websites. Clients have problems and pain points they need fixed. Some they are aware of, others they are not. We need to come to these businesses not with proposals for a website, but with proposals for solutions to their problems.
In order to succeed at this, it requires a deep shift in how we think about ourselves as freelancers.
One of the best resources to help with this shift is an ebook by FreshBooks co-founder Mike McDerment called “Breaking the Time Barrier.” It’s free to download and I highly recommend reading it.
If you have any questions, or thoughts about ways to command higher rates, please share in the comments below!