Sick of Being Underpaid for Your Consulting Services? How to Fix It

consultant on her laptopPart 1 of a two-part series

Ever feel this way?

The estimate I give doesn’t reflect the work I do.

There’s nothing quite like getting paid $500 for $5000 worth of work to strip you of your confidence, make you resent the human race and drive you to do the unthinkable — looking for a JOB.

I’ve been there too, and so have some of my clients who have years of professional experience and top-notch expertise as business, marketing and creative consultants.

When you start a business, you just want clients. Most consultants and business owners are hungry for work and will take almost anything.

But then this thing happens.

You’re flooded with deliverables, projects, demanding clients. You’re working crazy hours and yet you’re still struggling to cover the nut.

What gives?

You, actually.

You give. And give. And give. Away. Too. Much.

Giving is good of course. Accept when you give so much that you’re screwing yourself over in return.

This drives me crazy when it happens to me.

It drives me crazier when I see it happen to business owners who have mad skills, deliver excellent work and get valuable results for their clients.

Newsflash: Most of those clients you’re delighting are not going to volunteer more money. They know they’re getting a killer deal. They’d pay more for your services, but most (none maybe) won’t tell you that.

It’s up to you. It’s up to you to command what your worth. It’s up to you to set client expectations and spell out the boundaries.

You are the boss. So lay it down LIKE A BOSS.

This has been one of the trickiest lessons I’ve had to learn over the last few years.
We’re not only service providers, we are business owners.

So make, set, bend (sometimes) and enforce the rules.

Also, implement some or all of these strategies to prune away the crazy hours and penny pinchers.

Rethink your pricing model

If you have to work a mikillion hours to cover your bills then it’s time to take a close look at the ways you get paid for your work. There are myriad ways to charge for your services . . . and you don’t have to pick just one. You’ll hear all kinds of advice on this, but it’s up to you to figure out how to handle it. I mostly have package pricing, which has worked well for me most of the time, and has seriously hurt me others. Because of that, I now know when hourly pricing makes sense (though I still tend to stay away from it). There’s nothing inherently wrong or bad with hourly, flat fee, value pricing, commission, barter, monthly or retainer pricing. What can be bad or go wrong is how you apply these, how often and at what rate. You can make a living off of continually bartering. At the same token, you don’t have to take barter off the table. I recently made a $7500 investment in my business and struck a barter deal. I’ll give you $2000 in marketing consulting. This worked for both us because we both feel it’s a fair exchange.Bartering as a main pricing strategy will put you out of business fast. It’s really more a “bend the rules” option.

Give yourself a raise

When was the last time you gave yourself a raise? Three months ago? A year ago? Never? When I work with creative consultants, I see the doubt and fear wash across their face when I tell them to raise their rates. And I wrestle with that doubt and fear too everytime I raise my rates. They ask me Will people pay for this? And the answer is yes, the right person will pay for it. I only work with professionals. My clients are sometimes newer in their business but many of them have 15 or more years of career under their belt. They absolutely deliver value. The right people pay for excellent work. The answer is to find better clients, not stoop to everyday low prices (you ARE NOT Walmart). Yes, it can be a little scary because raising your rate is a split second decision that does take some time to fully implement and get results from. Yes, you will lose some clients. You will also need a smaller number of clients to make the same amount of money or more. You will not make less money by raising your rates, as long as you also get clear about who will pay your rates.

Stand for your value

So, this takes guts but you’ve got to be willing to say no and walk away. Over the summer I had a client who asked me to provide a lower rate for work that I did. At first I was anxious and then I got mad. I’d already done a different project where I went above and beyond and felt like this client had gotten way more than what she paid. That’s when it hit me. I hadn’t taken a stand and I had been yielding to her on several other things. Little things, but things that were counter to how I typically do business. Whether she was consciously doing it or not, she was taking advantage of my flexibility . . . and I had to put a stop to it. This is part of being a business owner. Setting expectations. Educating clients. Reminding them of your value. Drawing a line in the sand. Do this firmly and respectfully . . but do it! This is the email I sent back to my client:

I can understand requesting suppliers to reduce rates, and while I never like to say no, my rate will stay the same.

What we can do is adjust blog post length. This was a lengthy post at ### words. If we keep the posts around ### words then the price would be $$$.

I enjoy working with you and the ____ family so just let me know how you would like to proceed.

Be clear, direct and willing to walk away. My client agreed to adjust what she was getting rather the price and we’re still working together today.

Get paid to do proposals

OMG, can I just tell you about this brilliant idea that I wish was mine?! I originally heard about this from Perry Marshall and instantly began recommending this to all my clients (and applying it to my business). In my years as a marketer and PR director proposals were the lifeline of new business. And yet, it always seemed ridiculous to spend 60 hours to pull something together for a 5-25% chance of getting the work. I always felt like there had to be a better way.

There is. The process is called discovery (you can name it whatever you want though). Instead of running off to write a proposal after a 30- or 60- minute conversation with a prospect, explain to them that you you need to get under the hood of their business to better understand the problem and provide a solution that’s actually going to work for them. How can you truly know what their problem is from one conversation? Without discovery, proposals are a waste of your time and their time, so charge them for your efforts to really figure out what’s going on. Chances are they’ll want you to implement the solution but even if they hire someone else, you still get paid. Way better than spending 60 (or any) hours on free work right?

Stay tuned for three more changes you can make to get paid what you’re worth. In the meantime, which of these strategies will you use to command the fees that reflect the value of your work? Why?

 

I Want to Hear From You!

60-Minute Consult

Request your complimentary consultation  & walk away with 3 ways you can earn more money & visibility.

Click to Apply

 

Client Kudos: How a Yoga Teacher is Making Mental Health Less Taboo

Click image to read article about Mandy GivenMandy Given has one of those stories.

Heart-wrenching. Courageous. Moving. Inspirational.

TRANSFORMATIONAL.

It’s no accident the fates brought us together.

Mandy is a mom. She’s a business owner. And she’s a fearless messenger.

When we met in the fall, she suspected that her story needed to be tightened up & positioned strategically. She also knew she wanted a more professional sounding & looking website.

As we worked together, it became clear that in addition to a powerful story that would connect to potential clients, she had a message that would benefit the 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders.

That is a story worth pitching to the press, & Mandy was game.

Earlier this year, Mandy landed placements with her local paper & the local CBS radio affiliate in Boston, the country’s 8th largest media market (click the links to read the article & hear the spot). And she’s just getting started.

Here’s why it worked, & how you can do this too.

  • Clarity around message & story. Mandy came to me with her story so I could help her turn it into its most concise & compelling version. From there, we shaped & re-purposed it for different channels including her website & media pitches.
  • Media connections. I love it when clients like Mandy already have connections with journalists, That’s half the battle because if a journalist already knows, trusts & likes you AND you have a great pitch, getting placed happens fast & easy. You don’t need to have existing connections or relationships to get publicity. If you want more tips on how to start making your own connections check out my interview on The Carrie Roldan Show.
  • Craft a media-worthy pitch. Pitching the media is part art, part psychology. There are plenty of free resources on my blog (like this one & this one) & others (check out The Publicity Hound — better than a PR degree!) to help you pull your own pitch together. Or you can just hire someone & be done with it.  Here’s the email pitch I wrote for Mandy’s CBS contact — in less than an hour.

What every parent should know about how to help a child with anxiety

Hi <first name>,I’m Mandy Given and I’m the owner of Govinda Yoga Play, where I help children in grades 4-12 throughout Greater Boston & North Shore better cope with the stress of these uncertain times and the daily dilemmas of modern society. I’ve listened to your show and I believe I’d be a great guest for your audience.

Proposed Topic: What every parent should know about how to help a child with anxiety

Did you know that anxiety affects 25% of US children ages 13-18 (SOURCE: National Institute of Mental Health)? At the same time, anxiety is highly treatable yet only 20 percent of children suffering with anxiety receive treatment. Parents of children with anxiety can help ease their child’s worries, and it doesn’t always have to be with the use of powerful prescription drugs.

As a guest on your show, I propose discussing the following points:

  • How families can experience more peace & happiness in spite of these turbulent times
  • Simple, drug-free techniques anyone can use to change our chemical response to stress
  • How to avoid the dangers of your child, you or any loved one being misdiagnosed & over-medicated from the perspective of a parent with anxiety

Many of your listeners may struggle with anxiety or have a child or loved who struggles with it. They may not know that easy-to-learn techniques and alternative solutions to pharmaceuticals are available.

I’ve recently been interviewed by my local newspaper (Marblehead Reporter) and my goal is to deliver an informative interview for your audience. I’d be happy to provide you with sample interview questions at your request, as well as come into the studio should you decide to do a segment on this timely topic.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Warm regards,

Mandy Given

xxx-xxx-xxxx

name@emailprovider.com

(I’ll break down this pitch with footnotes in another post but in the meantime study, rob & duplicate this format for your own topic & pitch. Or book a consult with me if you want me to take care of it for you.)

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. For goodness sake, DO NOT wing an interview with the press. Figure out your talking points & practice. Mandy & I sculpted the most meaningful & succinct points, then hopped on the phone to review & mock interview. If you’ve never done a media interview and you plan to make media relations a key branding & marketing strategy, get media training.
  • Re-purpose your media placements. It’s exciting to be in the press. High-five yourself. Not many people have the balls, tenacity or organization to reach out to the media. Share your news! Your co-workers, clients, partners, friends & family will be excited for you. Link to your press from your website. Add an “As Featured In” section to your homepage & include the logo of the media outlet. Post it on your Facebook timeline & business page. Print out the actual article, blow it up to poster size, laminate it & hang it on your office wall. Go for it, you deserve to toot your own horn.

So if you’ve got a newsworthy story to tell . . . I challenge you to reach out to the media.

If you need help pulling together a PR strategy & concise, compelling press materials, book a complimentary consultation so we can discuss what’s possible for you!

Client Kudos: How One Interior Designer Uses Video Storytelling to Launch an Online Program (& You Can Too)

My client Peg Kusner created an incredible story video when she launched a new innovative interior design program last fall.  Play the video to see what I mean, then keep reading because I’m going to give you some tips on how you can do this too without going over the top with production (or your wallet)!

I often recommend to my clients that video is like adding the match to the fuel of your story. I love that Peg went out on a limb and pulled together this mini documentary style video for her new program Beyond Your Kitchen Table. I’ve known Peg for several years now and this video captures her philosophy, brilliance and essence beautifully.

If you’d love to have a powerful piece of marketing like this, here are some tips.

  • Share who you are, why you do what you do and what you believe — Video can be far more compelling than the prettiest, most perfect website (even though Peg’s is gorgeous, it’s this video you really can’t look away from!)
  • No need to go over the top with production — Peg’s video is professionally done however it doesn’t take much equipment or lots of clever techniques to create instant connection, rapport & trust. You could accomplish something similar with a high quality phone camera (like LG) & a quality microphone. Hair, wardrobe, makeup — CHECK. Take some action shots, talk to the camera and BOOM. Superstar.
  • Challenge preconceptions about your industry — One of my favorite things about this video is that it challenges philosophies & tired practices in interior design. It also challenges my own beliefs about design (I can’t do it myself, it should look like a glossy magazine, I need all new stuff to pull something together that feels right). How did your beliefs about design change after watching?
  • Show what makes you unique — I’ve talked to Peg on the phone for years. I’ve discovered what has made her unique & special from our many in-depth conversations. I’m so glad she made this video so people can see and feel her uniqueness instantly.
  • Just having an amazing product or service isn’t enough — You have to let people know how you can change their lives. Why not do it in a way that instantly establishes your value & allows people to connect with you on a deeper level?

So if you’ve got a story you can’t NOT tell . . . I challenge you to get it on video.

If you need help pulling together a video-worthy story for an upcoming launch or to add some WOW to your about page or to create dazzling speaker’s reel, book a complimentary consultation so we can discuss what’s possible for you!

Is your revenue model killing you?

When Elise Grice ended up in the hospital with the West Nile virus, she and her partner Scott were three years into growing their successful branding studio Hey Sweet Pea in Austin, TX.

That’s when the couple and biz partners finally admitted that despite their growth and success, their dollars-for-hours revenue model was killing them physically and emotionally.

The silver lining in this case is that Elise and Scott were committed to finding a better way to run their business (get more of their story here).

In the coaching and consulting world, there’s no shortage of advice coming at you when it comes to getting clients and running your business. There’s oodles of information out there about packaging and pricing your offers, creating 6- and 7-figure businesses . . . and very little advice on how to do that without running yourself into the ground.

Because if you’re simply adding clients, adding to your workload, adding to your stress levels . . . how is that adding to your life? On the flip side, if you’re aware of protecting your “me time”, “family time” or “fun time”, growing your business can feel like you’re trying to summit Everest without an oxygen mask.

More or Leveraged?

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve taken on a couple high-end clients who are getting the white glove service from me. They are great clients who I’m excited about. They’ve also made me keenly aware that because of the current state of my business and life (which are positive), I can only take on a limited number of “white glove” clients at any given time.

And when I learned about Elise and Scott’s story, a jolt of panic struck me.

What happens if I can’t personally deliver service to my clients?

Gulp.

I know several solo consultants, coaches and even small business owners who are facing down this same devil. Even when you have a team, that doesn’t necessarily mean your business is structured to run without you.

9 Revenue Models for Service-Based Business Owners

One thing I know for sure is that there is no “magic bullet” revenue model, just like there is no “magic bullet” marketing strategy (stop buying that BS). The model you choose depends on you, your values and your specific goals. That being said, if you’re a service-based business owner stuck in the dollars-for-hours hamster wheel here are nine revenue models to consider integrating into your core business.

  1. Licensing – you don’t have to be an inventor or software developer to license your intellectual property. Service providers often follow a process to deliver services. When you’ve designed that process, you want to protect it (so speak with an attorney who know IP law). Once you can prevent others from using your process without your consent, you can commercialize your IP so others can use the process for a fee. World-class branding expert Sally Hogshead and creator of the Fascination Personality Test combines this approach with several below. How can you leverage your process and intellectual property so others can use it to grow their business?
  2. Aggregator – Collect information on service providers in your industry and pull them under one brand. For example, if you’re a holistic health provider, aggregate a network of wellness practitioners. You have the option to charge providers a monthly fee to join the network, consumers a monthly fee to access the network or both.
  3. Subscription/retainer – How can you shift your clients into longer-term work? You can go more high-end and enroll clients into a Done For You style contract or mastermind for a year or more. If you have a team, have one of your star players facilitate or deliver the service. Or, you can make it low-cost, hands-off where clients access content or use a tool for a monthly fee (think Netflix for your business). Either way, what resources do you already have in your business that can provide you with recurring revenue even if you’re away from your business?
  4. Online Courses – Can your audience learn some aspect of your service for themselves? Turn it into an online course, like Elise and Scott. Create an automated marketing and sales funnel. It takes work and effort upfront to get all the moving pieces together but it’ll be well worth it when you see orders coming in even when you’re at the golf course, on the slopes or at the beach. You can even get others to help you sell your course if you’re willing to share a part of the revenue (see #9).
  5. Assessments – People love to assess things. If there’s some aspect about your business that requires your clients to assess their personality or their business, create a tool that allows them to do that. That’s what Sally Hogshead has done with her Fascination Personality Test. She offers a free version that gives a basic assessment and a paid version that goes deeper. The free version makes a great lead magnet so even if someone doesn’t take advantage of the upsell to the paid version the first time around, she can offer it again (and again). She makes money on this assessment by charging a nominal fee for a user to get the deeper assessment. She also makes money on it by licensing it to partners. Brilliant!
  6. Property – If you rent or own office space, do you need it all or can you use it in different ways? I know a business owner who has a gorgeous salon and photography studio. She rents it out to a national clothing retailer for fashion events. She also gets hired to photograph the events, do executive head shots, etc. She’s figured out how to leverage her many assets to inject some extra cash into her pipeline. She’s still pretty involved, but if you have property you can rent or time-share, it’s another way to make money without having to be present. What about personal property? One of my clients has a vacation property that she rents throughout the year. I own a condo that requires minimal management from me and provides monthly income. Your business doesn’t need to be the only way you make money.
  7. Employees – If you have a team, how can you loan them to other businesses? You could hire them out to run workshops, trainings or skills development that you already offer. It’s packaging something that already benefits your clients and delivering it in a different way.
  8. Books – You’re probably not going to get rich by writing a book, but it’s a great way to get your ideas and message to the masses, elevate your brand, promote your business, establish your expertise and yes, make some money. If you don’t have the time to sit down and write, hire a ghostwriter. Loral Langemeier told me she doesn’t write her books (she doesn’t have time). She dictates them then gives the recordings to someone else to pull it together and shepherd it through the publishing and distribution process. In today’s marketplace you don’t need to be a multimillionaire to model Langemeier’s approach.
  9. Affiliate/JV Partnerships – If you enjoy collaborating, get someone to help you market your services and share the revenue. Creating affiliate and joint venture partnerships is a leveraged way to get your intellectual property (book, courses, assessments, tools, etc.) to a wider market without you having to be there. Sally Hogshead licenses her Fascination Personality Test to a select group of service providers who align with her brand (these licensees are able to apply their brand to her product and keep a greater portion of the sales revenue, minus the licensing fee). She also allows affiliates to sell the test and earn a commission every time someone buys, without requiring them to pay the licensing fee. Who do you have in your network who would be willing to promote your services and IP to their community?

I know many consultants and coaches who love to work privately or in intimate settings with their clients (myself included). I’m not saying you need to abandon your core revenue model, but when you restructure or leverage some of the assets you already have, you can have more time to enjoy what matters most to you, or give yourself some cushion if (god forbid) something goes wrong.

If you’re ready to increase your client base, add leveraged income and simplify your business, apply for a complimentary consultation so we can explore what makes sense for you.

What other revenue models are you using to create leveraged income in your business? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

Successful Women Are Unlikable? Really?!

WARNING: Cuss words inside

It’s high time we put the “bitch in the boardroom” stereotype to bed.

According to many high-profile voices (Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Sheryl Sandberg & Hillary Clinton to name a few), if you’re a successful woman, people don’t like you.

But if you’re a man, well, it’s game on.

Look, I’m not stupid. Not only do I know women have been oppressed, mistreated, held down and treated less than, I’ve experienced it.

We’ve got a long journey before us to heal the wounds and horror stories of generations past.

Here’s the thing.

I am really flipping tired of powerful people – who are supposedly on the side of women – beating us down with this tripe.

It’s reckless, irresponsible and not useful at all to advancing women.

While this may not have been true 40 years ago, I believe that today it IS possible to be a woman with a commanding presence, confidence and humanity that both sexes respect.

Hang with me here as I break down this message . . .

The more successful and ambitious a woman is, the less likable you become.

Has the fear of people not liking you held you back from succeeding? Sure has for me – more than I care to admit.

Read that sentence again. Out loud.

The more successful and ambitious a woman is, the less likable you become.

Now . . .

Are you ready to do whatever it takes to be successful?

Or do you feel like you want to “chuck it in the fuck it bucket” (to borrow a favorite phrase from my client Sherry).

Well hell, if a high-powered woman is telling you success means no friends, no fun, no respect  . . . then why bother right?

Say it again.

The more successful and ambitious a woman is, the less likable you become.

Is it 100% true? Or can you identify times when success, ambition and likability came together for you like peanut butter and jelly?

Hmmm. What’s going on here?

What’s going on is that the belief is WRONG, not your ambition. Not your success. And if there’s no one in your life who respects you for being an achiever, may I suggest that it’s time to find new people?

I’m not buying into the idea that success and likeability are mutually exclusive — especially when it comes to powerful women. You can achieve both when you get shit done, get results, add value and treat others with respect. You deserve it because you earn it, not because of your body parts, name or status.

Leaders – women and men – need to up their message game.

Speak the truth, yes. Shine a light on injustice, yes.

Massively overhaul our discourse and mindset? Yes! Yes! For goodness sake YES!

In a recent interview with Lewis Howes, Tony Robbins said (about 55 minutes in) . . .

We’ve all experienced injustice. If you hang onto injustice, you’re there. What we need to do is breakthrough and you will always breakthrough when you add value.

How about we start demanding that our leaders add value with their messages too?

And until that happens, consider this . . .

Limits live in your beliefs & behaviors. Hear the words of powerful people, then listen to your own voice to decide what’s true for you. [Tweet This]

Also, if you’re a powerful, successful woman (or you aspire to be) just remember this: the media loves telling you what to think and do. If you have vision and drive, if you can listen and communicate well . . . if people can TRUST you, you’ll have little trouble finding people who like you no matter how meteoric your rise to the top.

I’m grateful to meet and know many successful and likable women and men like you. Do you have a powerful, uplifting message that adds value to others . . . if only you could share it with more people? Schedule a complimentary consultation with me & learn how you can package & position your message for greater impact, influence & income.

 

Claim your Complimentary ConsultationMakeover My Marketing Now!