Are you undervaluing and under-pricing your own time?

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QC Design School

Setting fees is an important decision that must be made before starting a business, and one that must be revisited regularly to make sure we’re neither pricing ourselves out of the market nor short-changing ourselves. If this is something you’ve struggled with, I know you’ll find some helpful ideas in today’s guest post.


There are so many exciting aspects of starting your own business, but setting up a fee structure and pricing services is not always one of them!

The financial components of a business are often the most stressful, and many professionals will undervalue their services and expertise when they start out. When your business is new, there can be a real temptation to offer your services at low prices, or even for free. While some pro-bono work in order to build up your portfolio and gain valuable experience is usually necessary, it should not come to define your work!

After all, you’ve invested both time and money in starting your Professional Organizing career and should be compensated accordingly.  How do you get there though? Read on for some tips for setting your fee structure, communicating your rates to prospective clients, and beginning to earn what you deserve!

Do your research!

How much are others who work in your industry charging for their services? Researching the hourly rates of your competition will give you a sense of what you can (and probably should!) be charging.

When researching others’ fees, make sure you consider their region. A Professional Organizer working in a large and expensive city like Vancouver or Washington DC will certainly charge more than someone working in a small or even medium-sized town. However the costs associated with running their business in a large city will almost certainly be higher too.

Consider your overhead costs when planning your rates, and make sure to take into account that your billable hours are only a fraction of the work you’ll actually be doing!

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Don’t sell yourself short

Many times, professionals who are starting out will deliberately set their fees lower than others working in the area in the hopes of attracting clients. This isn’t always the best way forward though, and can sometimes backfire.

If you deliberately set your low rates with the intention of winning clients, it could be awkward to raise them later. Further, some prospective clients will question why you are less expensive than their other options. Many people believe they get what they pay for, leading them to the conclusion that if your fees don’t match the competition’s, your services won’t measure up either!

Rather than set low hourly rates, why not run a temporary promotion offering a discount to new clients, for referrals, or to those who promote your work on social media? This is a great marketing tool and will increase bookings, but avoids your having to advertise low fees and then change them later.

Education matters

If you have had formal training and hold a Professional Organizer Certification, then you have clearly invested money as well as time into starting your career. Holding a certification shows prospective clients that you are educated in the field, and can go a long way in raising their confidence in you.

As such, you can often justify charging a little more than someone who does not hold a certificate. The key here is clear and honest conversation: if a client questions your rates, politely explain that you are a trained professional and that this is your career, not a hobby.

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Consider your unique contributions

Perhaps in addition to training as a Professional Organizer, you also have experience in Feng Shui, or formerly worked as a financial planner. Whatever the case may be, make sure you consider your niche within the market — what can you offer that sets you apart from others in the field? You can separate your different services in your fee structure, or offer special packages. If you have taken advanced workshops in areas related to your field or have worked on high profile jobs, then you can certainly justify raising your rates as a result.

Discussing financial matters, justifying your rates, and negotiating with clients can be uncomfortable for many people. It does get easier with practice though, and is certainly helped by the ability to explain why your fees are set the way they are, and to understand your own worth. Remember that you are a professional first. Your services have great value for the clients who access them, and your rates should reflect this!

We would love to hear from readers about their experiences in overcoming challenges with setting rates, and how they were able to improve their revenue!

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QC Design School offers comprehensive online courses for aspiring interior designers and professional organizers. All courses are awarded with the highest customer satisfaction rating (A+) with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and successfully prepare students to start their own business.

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  1. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on April 9, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Great tips! When I started out there wasn’t a lot of POs Cerca 1993ish. So, I had to learn how to price my services using trial and error. I realized if people didn’t value what I did they wouldn’t buy the service. So, I stopped doing Free consultations because if they valued and wanted my service, they would pay. This helped me weed out people who just wanted something free. First and foremost, I had to realize that my service adds value to ones life and I deserve payment.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 9, 2016 at 9:23 am

      That must have been challenging! Not only did you not have many others to compare yourself to, but at that time the industry was still so new that you would have had to really educate potential clients about what you could do for them and the ways they would benefit. Congratulations for your long-term success!

  2. Avatar Jill Robson on April 9, 2016 at 8:23 am

    I heard this statement when I started out that stuck with me, “if you don’t think you are worth the amount you want to charge, then neither will potential clients” be confident when you tell people the cost it will be to help you transform their lives, its a big deal. I never apologize for my rates.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 9, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Good for you, Jill! So many people think that if business is pouring in, their rates must be too high, but the reality is, some people won’t become clients no matter what you’re charging.

  3. Avatar Janet Bloom on April 9, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I recently met a business coach who suggests pricing by goal accomplishment. A client says the goal is to get the basement decluttered and organized in such a manner that she can have movie nights with her family down there again. Through questioning we determine what that looks like to her. The pricing looks like this: I will get the result you want in X amount of time for X dollars.

    My argument is that the amount of time it takes to get to the result is dependent upon the client’s ability to make decisions. The coach says some jobs will be done in the time I estimate (and I’ll make more money than if I had charged hourly) and some will run longer (and I’ll make less) but in the end I’ll come out ahead more times than not. She also says pricing this way will set me apart from other PO’s.

    I’m on the fence.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 9, 2016 at 10:16 am

      That’s basically what I do in my business, but my time is based on technology and other factors, rather than the client, so I’m not sure how it would work for you. Most business experts recommend charging by the project or package rather than by the hour.

      I’ll be interested in what the folks from QC Design School might have to say about this.

    • Avatar Erica Duran on April 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Aloha Janet Bloom!

      I’m going to have to disagree with your coach.

      I think you should have authentic set packages that package up your time and expertise. There is a weird energy I can’t put my finger on when every package is a “Let’s Make a Deal”. Consistency in your packaging and pricing is going to help you with confidence and feeling in control of the situation and BE the expert. Remember it is about who you are “being” more often than what you are “doing” in your business.
      Plus, knowing what you packages include and don’t include makes the sales process more streamlined.
      Note: I don’t believe in just bundling up hours and calling it a package.

      Sorry to disagree, but I had to say something 🙂
      Erica Duran

  4. Avatar Seana Turner on April 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

    This can be tough, and many people have opinions. I think your priorities are important as well. For example, if the client is close by, I still prefer offering a free consultation. It helps me avoid getting into a job that I might not want… both sides get a chance to see if we will be a good fit. Fortunately for me, most of my clients are close by, and most consultations end in a project. I know exactly what I’m walking into and we start off strong from the first moment.

  5. Avatar Janet Barclay on April 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Having clients nearby is a definite plus, especially when it comes to free consultations. I stopped offering them (as an organizer) because I’d spend an hour and a half in the car, plus half an hour with the client (which usually extended to 45 minutes or an hour), and it often didn’t lead to any paying work. It just didn’t add up for me.

  6. Avatar Erica Duran on April 9, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Great post! Pricing is so important!
    Not just so you can afford things you need and desire, but for your positioning in the marketplace and your overall lifestyle.
    Charging premium rates allows you to work with fewer clients and pour all your energy into them.
    When I work with professional organizers and pretty much all other service based entrepreneurs they are usually undercharging.
    I have them do a life resume to boost their confidence and quiet down that dreaded “Impostor/Feeling Like a Fraud Syndrome”.

    Funny story… when I felt my prices were too high everybody that took advantage of my free strategy session reflected back to me that they couldn’t afford it.
    But since I changed my mindset on my own pricing – I NEVER get that “I’d love too but I can’t afford it” objection these days.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 11, 2016 at 7:04 am

      That makes a lot of sense, and ties in with what Jill said. If there is even the slightest bit of hesitation or apology in your voice when you tell them the price, the client will sense that. I always appreciate your comments, Erica!

      • Avatar Erica Duran on April 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

        Awe! Thank you, Janet Barkley! Love to be a part of the conversation here!

  7. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on April 10, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I’m comfortable with my current rates, but I do review them yearly. Sometimes I raise my rates, and sometimes I just tweak my packages. I also provide services at various price points (basically, you pay less for receiving less, which is great for DIY-ers). Sometimes, when someone needs hands-on help for less than I am willing to accept for that service, I refer them to a colleague who is newer to the business and who charges less. When I think about the specific clients I’ve “lost” this way there may sometimes be a twinge of regret, but there are usually addtional ways in which they were not my ideal client.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 11, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Sometimes it’s tempting to take on a lower-paying client or one that’s not a great fit when business is slow, but then you’re not available when the right one comes along, so I think you’re making good decisions.

  8. Avatar Sara Skillen on April 10, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    This was the part of my business I struggled most with when I first started out. I also noticed early on that when I quoted my rates I was sometimes apologetic – so I practiced quoting them out loud by myself! When I recently raised rates, I did the same (although I didn’t have to practice quite as long this time around!), and I’ve noticed that most of my potential clients don’t even bat an eye. If you are confident in your abilities, you should be correspondingly confident in your fees. Thanks for a great post!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Lack of confidence can really stand in our way! I like Erica’s suggestion, to do a life resume outlining all our accomplishments and skills — sometimes we need to convince ourselves of our value before we can sell it to clients!

  9. Avatar John Reese on April 20, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Sometimes it’s not easy making a research how much other people in your industry get, because there’s no official information, so the only way for you to make more money is to negotiate.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on April 20, 2016 at 6:39 am

      I’m not sure that “negotiate” is the right word here. As service providers, we need to know our worth and set our fees accordingly. I’d be very cautious of working with a client who didn’t respect that.

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