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The Clarity Journal

Tactics, Tools, and Truth for Creative Entrepreneurs

Tips for Creating Profitable Packages

Service Packages Beyond the Hourly Rate

Packaging your work is a huge and intimidating obstacle for new creative entrepreneurs. Even creatives who are more established in business can struggle to create service packages that not only sell well but can also sustain their business financially.

The biggest mistake people make when creating service packages is thinking primarily through the lens of time spent. When you create and price your packages based on the time it takes you to complete the work, you may be susceptible to the following unintended consequences: 

  • You set yourself up to be nickel-and-dimed, because the client, who isn’t familiar with your craft, will always believe you can work faster.

  • You undervalue your expertise and process. You shouldn’t have to charge less because your experience allows you to work quickly. You shouldn’t be penalized for the processes in your business that allow you to work efficiently.

  • You risk excluding non-time related costs like overhead, materials, taxes, and profit.  

Not Time Spent but Value Created

A better approach is to package for value, not time. In the first approach, you are prone to ask, “how can I give this client what they want in the least amount of hours?” In the second approach, you ask, “how can I create the maximum amount of value to meet this client’s goals?”

When you approach packaging from the reference point of value – not hours – you can:

  • Help your client better understand the context of your pricing.

  • Include your process, experience, and efficiency as value-adds in your pricing structure.

  • Account for business expenses appropriately.

Here are five tips to help you put this value-based approach into action and package your work profitably.

Start with the Client’s Goals

The first step to packaging is understanding WHY your ideal client wants to work with you in the first place. There is one hard truth that, if you can grasp it, will make your life in business a million times easier. That truth is this: nobody cares.

Your client doesn't care about your craft, they care about how your craft can get them what they want. So, when you are packaging your services, always start with the client’s end goal in mind. Ask yourself what business or personal benefits will be created through the service you are offering?

This is not about what deliverables they are receiving but why they want the deliverables in the first place. If you are a photographer it’s not about how many images they will get. Instead, it’s about getting leads for their business through quality imagery. If you are an interior designer, it’s not about styling a living room. Instead, it’s about creating a place of rest and respite from a stressful life.

Streamline Your Offerings

When creating a proposal for prospective clients, it’s tempting to want to show a lot of options. But, having too many options can backfire. First of all, you run the risk of confusing your client, and confused clients don’t buy. Secondly, most small businesses can’t manage internal processes for more than two or three services. Last, from a pricing standpoint, it’s better to position yourself as an expert in doing one or two things instead of a generalist that can do “anything for anyone.”

Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, create a signature package (or two), price it well for your business, and revolve your entire business around delivering this service effectively.

Focus on Upselling and Bonuses, Not Downsizing and Discounts

Once you have a signature package as your base, you need to avoid the temptation to create a cheap-o version for people who don’t want to pay for it. It’s critical to stay true to your base package and recognize that not everyone is going to be willing or able to pay.

However, you can still create tiers of service to allow the client to customize the work to their needs. Instead of offering down-sizing options for cheaper packages, create upsells, or things that the client can add to the base package. Think of your upsells as the dessert menu of your business. 

There may be times that you want to incentivize clients to book, whether you are trying to pre-book or fill up your calendar in a slow season. Instead of using discounts to motivate clients to buy (resulting in lost revenue for you), add a limited time bonus to your signature package.

Put a Price on the Process

Your process is an important part of the value you provide your clients. The client experience is the biggest thing that separates high-end from average service providers.

Focusing on one or two signature services allows you to refine and improve the client process over time. You should explicitly state that your process is included in all of your service packages, and explain why your process benefits the client. Some creatives even put their process as a separate line item on their invoice.

Be Specific About Deliverables

Your client should be clear on what they will take away from the process of working with you. Deliverables can include things like:

  • Digital files or images (graphic design or photography)

  • Documents or words written (copywriting)

  • Conceptual design presentation or furniture recommendations (interior design)

  • Finished piece of a particular size (fine artist)

  • Live website with a certain number of pages (web design)

The more specific you can get, the more valuable the service will seem and the more protected you will be from clients who dispute what you have provided.

Do you struggle with packaging? Why or why not?

Tools + TacticsKatie Wussow