About a month ago, I secured a ghostwriting job with one of my favorite all-time clients. Let’s call him Greg. After years of running marketing and ad agencies, Greg made a shift in 2020 into a consulting practice for small and medium businesses. The goal of the book is to help popularize the system he’s created, so that entrepreneurs can either implement it themselves or hire him to manage the process.
At some point during one of our interviews, the conversation turned to pricing. It’s my favorite business topic, and one that I’ve written about extensively, including my own book, The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid.
My go-to strategy, particularly for complex projects, is to use an estimated range: The lower end is what I’d calculate as a firm project bid, but then I also have a higher end that allows for a process that requires more work than I realized without having to renegotiate. As a side benefit, it incentivizes the client to be easy to work with, since they know they can save money if everything goes smoothly.
But when I estimated Greg’s project, I didn’t use a range—and he asked me why. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t.
I suppose it was because I’ve worked with him so long that we have lots of trust and value each other and the relationship. Maybe I was so focused on details in the scope of work that I was too confident in my numbers. If the project runs longer than expected, however, or if the book comes in 40 pages longer than we discussed, he’s not going to quibble about the cost. He pays very well and promptly, and has always had my back.
Still, it’s nagging at me that I made a rookie mistake.
The takeaway for me is that you need to stick with your system. It’s a key message in Greg’s book, and apparently one that I needed to be reminded of.