Thanks Thanks:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 28
  1. #1
    Member Since
    Jul 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    518
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Hello Everybody!

    I felt inspired to start this thread today to encourage you to consider whether you are setting good client expectations about the value of your time.

    You may have an existing client with whom you have an open ended contract about free phone and email consultation time as part of a larger project, such as the development of a website or citation building campaign.

    -But-

    If you are working with a client on a consulting basis, don't be afraid to charge for all the time you spend. This is particularly vital for single owner Local SEOs and small firms that don't employ phone staff to field all incoming calls. If you are 'it' for fielding those calls from your consulting clients, then you should be charging for each consultation, even if it's only a 15 minute call. That's 15 minutes you are devoting to the client and not devoting to your other clients or projects. Multiply that by 4 requests a day from 4 different clients, and you've got an hour. Multiply that by 5 days a week and you've just lost $500 or whatever your fee would amount to. Who can afford this?

    Why this is so important is that some local business owners will attempt to get you to consult with them for free. They purchase 1 hour of your consulting time, but then request additional feedback from you via additional emails and phone calls. They don't offer to pay you for this, but can seem to expect you to keep serving them on an open-ended basis because they paid you once for the one-time service. This is not how you should operate your profitable Local SEO consultancy business. Your product = your time and it has value. Set expectations at the beginning of a consultancy relationship about what your time costs.

    Volunteering also has great value, and if you are a visible participant in fora like this one or are a visible blogger, you can expect to receive frequent requests via email, phone and PM from local business owners asking for free help (Hey there, can I just pick your brain about why my business isn't ranking well?).

    Whether your volunteer time extends to giving one-on-one free help to all-comers is a personal decision you must make, and if you're just starting out, could lead to some new actual contracts for you. But, if you (like me) are so busy that you feel like your head is about to explode , free one-on-one consultation with out-of-the-blue business owners is seldom going to be possible. You need to spend real time to investigate Local SEO issues and an off-the-cuff free answer could actually result in harm rather than help (geez, I didn't realize you had set up 22 different Google+ Local listings for your P.O. box addresses because I answered your question in 3 minutes ).

    Feel okay about responding to inquiries for free help with an explanation of your fees. Local business owners are totally aware that their own products and services are valuable, and by declaring that you live by the same rules, you are only stating what is true. If you feel like a miser for doing this, go ahead and explain that you care too much about the fate of their business to offer a slap-dash response. They deserve your total focus and you deserve remuneration for making their business your focus for the allotted time.

    What if they get miffy? Nothing you can do about this, I'm afraid. Yes, being nice is vital to having a civilized lifestyle, but your work is your livelihood and if someone gets bent out of shape because you aren't giving away your services, the problem is with their outlook - not yours. Move on to the next conversation with the next local business owner who truly gets that your advice is a valuable asset.

    So, long post here! Why did I write this? Because it took me years to learn this, and I still struggle with it from time to time. I want to be nice and generous to everybody, all the time, but the 24-hours-a-day time limit and the bills on my kitchen table work against my philanthropic desires. I've had to learn to be proud of myself when I set standards of value for my work. It's taken some effort to do this!

    How about you? Do you feel you're setting correct standards with your clients, or do you find yourself giving away time out of your own 'niceness impulses'? What are you thinking and feeling about this, when you look at your earnings? Do you have any tips or stories to share? I'd love to read them!
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

  2. #2
    Member Since
    Jun 2012
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    17,044
    Thanks (Received)
    40
    Likes (Received)
    42

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Quote Originally Posted by MiriamEllis View Post
    Why this is so important is that some local business owners will attempt to get you to consult with them for free. They purchase 1 hour of your consulting time, but then request additional feedback from you via additional emails and phone calls. They don't offer to pay you for this, but can seem to expect you to keep serving them on an open-ended basis because they paid you once for the one-time service.
    Ahhh Miriam, excellent post and points as always!

    For those that don't know - my model is a little different than most here. I don't do optimization for clients anymore, only consulting for SEOs and agencies on complicated cases and occasionally for a higher end SMB do-it-yourselfer, like an attorney, that's pretty SEO savvy and has scrambled listings, etc. So I'm more so pure consulting, but this topic is near and dear to my heart and issomething I've been struggling with.

    Again my model is different, and not that this is the best way because it does not always work for me, but... one of the reasons I keep my consulting rates on the high end ($300 per hour with a 2 hour minimum) is that everything ALWAYS goes over-time. It always takes more research time than I expect. There are ALWAYS more questions on the call than I expect AND there are always follow-up Qs which takes extra time to answer.

    I have a hard time saying: "Our call went 1/2 hour over-time and it took me 15 minutes to read and reply to your questions afterwards - so here's an extra bill for my time".

    So what I do, although it may seem backwards is... I just keep my rates high knowing that the 2 hours I charge for is likely going to end up being "3 hours at 200 an hour" instead of "2 hours at 300 an hour". So I always say on the 2 hour consult: "I don't mind going a little over to help ensure you get what you need from this consultation." And just know I'm always going to go over-time and it's built into my fee.

    So I feel like I have myself covered somewhat that way. BUT the problem I personally have is drawing the line beyond that 3 hours. Everybody, paid client or not, comes to me saying: "just one more quick question." They don't realize that for me there are NO quick answers cuz I usually have to research and write a book, when I try to help with what they may think is a fairly simple question.

    "seem to expect you to keep serving them on an open-ended basis because they paid you once for the one-time service."

    Yep, so drawing the line after question 2 or 3 and starting to charge at that point is my stumbling block.

    Didn't mean to derail your thread Miriam, because again I'm a little different. But this has been on my mind and is a big issue for me because I give so much free advice as it is. And I felt my thinking out loud on this may help others or at least get the conversation started.

    On a local search consultant level - back when I worked on client sites - I did have a disclaimer or warning in my agreement that said the quoted fee was for optimization only and if Google bugs or dupes arose there may be a service fee if extra work was involved. So that kinda goes along with your point about covering yourself, so you aren't spending time working for free. But I never covered anything about consulting or advice time and usually just gave that away as value-add.

    But I think it's a great topic for search consultants.
    How do you guys handle this???
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  3. #3
    Member Since
    Jul 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    518
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Hi Linda,



    I have a hard time saying "our call went 1/2 hour over-time and it took me 15 minutes to read and reply to your questions afterwards - so here's an extra bill for my time".
    Totally! I totally get that. And...

    They don't realize that for me there are NO quick answers cuz I usually have to research and write a book when I try to help what they may think is a fairly simple question.
    This is exactly the issue. There are no simple explanations if you are really trying to educate the client, and with all the nuances that may be involved in each individual situation, any question requires at least some investment of time.

    Your solution to the time thing is a proactive one, Linda. I admire the way you handle things! Loved your reply and hope we get others on the thread.
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

  4. #4
    Member Since
    Jun 2012
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    17,044
    Thanks (Received)
    40
    Likes (Received)
    42

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    I just Tweeted in hopes of hearing what others have to say too.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  5. #5
    Member Since
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Pasco, WA
    Posts
    86
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    0

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Great question to ask, and as someone who is launching a consulting firm that will be covering SEO I look forward to the responses of those with more seasoning in the industry.
    Daniel C Berman Communications - http://www.danielcberman.com

  6. #6
    Member Since
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    110
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    0

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Linda's tweet brought me here. I wanted to comment because this topic is something I have been dealing with a lot lately. I might derail the topic a little bit but I think that this may be helpful to some of the new consultants or people who are starting out in the business.

    I am not a local consultant but I think the situation is similar. What I do is consult with site owners who have issues with Penguin, Panda or an unnatural links problem. I started off doing this when I was pregnant and on bedrest. It began with me just spending the entire day in forums or reading and educating myself and then I would start giving some advice where I felt comfortable. I helped a few sites out for free (I learned that model from Linda) and then eventually started to charge.

    At first I was charging a very small fee to have a look at the site and the analytics and create a report. Eventually when I felt that I really knew what I was doing and my clients were giving me good testimonials, I raised my prices. The result was that I got more work. I suppose $xx for a report sounds like you are going to get some kind of automated work, where $xxx sounds like you may get something worth your money. Each time I get to the point where I have more work than I can handle I raise the fees again. And so far it hasn't slowed the work down at all.

    I also did the same thing for helping site owners with unnatural links penalties. I offered to do one for (almost) free. The site owner agreed to pay me a very small fee once the penalty was removed and we agreed on no charge if I couldn't do it. That first project was the hardest of any I have done since. For my second project I started to charge more, figuring out roughly how many hours it would take me and multiplying by my desired hourly fee. Again, as I had more success, I started to charge more and became more in demand.

    I can totally relate to the phone consults though because I do a lot of hourly consulting. I seem to get a lot of people who say to me, "Can I just talk to you for 15 minutes before I decide if I'm going to hire you?" That's really tough because 15 minutes is rarely 15 minutes and like Miriam said, my time is valuable. What I did was tell them that I had an hourly fee, or they could purchase 30 minutes for just over half of that. Then, if they decided to take on a fair sized contract with me I would refund for 30 minutes of our consult. This is working really well.

    The other thing that I struggled with as a new consultant is how much to charge. I have a secret. I really don't enjoy talking on the phone. Also, I am working at home while I am with my baby so I do my work during naps and after bedtime which means it is hard to schedule phone calls. So, I priced my phone consults at a bit higher than I thought I was worth. When I started to get too many, I raised the price by $50.

    I would also add that I have learned not to give discounts. I would say that 20% of the time when I am discussing a contract with a client they ask for a discount or tell me that they can only afford an amount that is $100 less than what I quoted. At first I would bend because I needed the business. As I got busier, I decided to flat out say no to discounts. In EVERY SINGLE CASE the person agreed to my initial price.

    Something else that I am learning is to be more brief in my emails. You can see from this post that I am long winded. (Perhaps that is a common trait amongst us?) Often in an email I would end up spending 30-60 minutes just talking about how I could answer a question if they purchased consulting. Now, I am not afraid to say, "I have a few ideas on this. Would you like to purchase some consulting time?" I do give some help, but if I am going to have to spend a long time I need to shut myself up and not give too much for free.

    One of the main things that I learned is that in the eyes of a small business owner, cheaper is not always better. Don't be afraid to charge for your time. But, I do want to add that this type of philosophy only works if you are willing to go above and beyond for your clients. If you do good work and you are able to produce great results then charge well for it.

  7. #7
    Member Since
    Jul 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    518
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Marie, what a great story! Something that I hear again and again from confident and happy consultants is this:

    I raised my prices. The result was that I got more work.
    What is it about this? Who has a theory they want to share on WHY that seems to work so well? So many people are afraid to charge more, and then when they make the leap, the chances are good that they will experience what you have, Marie. It's a really remarkable phenomenon!

    BTW, I think you are terrific for finding a way to earn money while taking care of your little one. Way to go! Really enjoyed your response.
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

  8. #8
    Member Since
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    110
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    0

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Quote Originally Posted by MiriamEllis View Post
    BTW, I think you are terrific for finding a way to earn money while taking care of your little one. Way to go! Really enjoyed your response.
    Thanks!

    I really think the increase in business that goes along with an increase in prices has to do with value perception. But, perhaps it also has something to do with an increase in confidence.

    When you're new and inexperienced your pitches probably come across as "Please, please, can I work for you, please? I won't charge you much!" But when you get the confidence to raise your prices, it sounds more like, "I am really good. I am in demand because I am so good. Hire me and I will do a good job."

  9. #9
    Member Since
    Jun 2012
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    17,044
    Thanks (Received)
    40
    Likes (Received)
    42

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    Yes great info and back story Marie.

    I admired you carving out a brand new niche doing the Black and White animal troubleshooting too. That was pretty cool!

    I think the high price or raising fees issue also can have a reverse psychology or almost hard-to-get element to it. Plus can carry the assumption that if he/she has the confidence to charge that much, they must really be good. I think not being willing to discount can have a similar type of impact..
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  10. #10
    Member Since
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    953
    Thanks (Received)
    6
    Likes (Received)
    12

    Re: Your Time Is Valuable - So Charge For It

    What is normal to charge for consulting? I help people from time to time, but I would love to get into making this actual work (and getting paid for it). I've seen some figures thrown around in this thread, but for someone just starting out in consulting - not a substantial client base or what not - what do you guys believe is reasonable?

    Also... do you believe business owners have a bias against younger consultants? Is it typical for someone to turn down or not contact a consultant based on age?

    Couple of questions I had floating in my head after reading through this thread. Interested to hear the answers.
    My rarely updated website (I should fix that) - https://www.ericrohrback.com
    Follow me on Twitter
    Want to talk? Book time with me here

Similar Threads

  1. How To Charge for PPC Management?
    By Travis Van Slooten in forum Consultant's Corner
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 01-16-2013, 06:07 AM
  2. Replies: 14
    Last Post: 12-02-2012, 09:12 AM
  3. Is Google Local Really this Broken? Who's in Charge? What's the Solution?
    By Linda Buquet in forum Google Local IMPORTANT
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 12-02-2012, 09:12 AM
  4. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-27-2012, 01:53 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •