How To Talk About Costing A Project

By Jamie McSloy / August 1, 2018
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How To Bring Up The Cost Of A Project

Let’s talk about something that all freelancers and new business folk have a problem with: Asking for money.

Now, for most of us, asking for money is an uncomfortable thing. You don’t want to ask for money because it feels like you’re taking something, even when you’re doing work in exchange for that money.

You have to get over that.

Many “business teachers” or whatever you’d call them make this worse for people.

They recommend you treat the fact you charge money as a dirty part of the deal. They recommend you fulfil a client’s hopes and dreams and then at the end, say, “oh by the way… can I have some money?”

This is a dreadful approach and it will lose you clients and gain you bad ones.

Here’s what you need to do instead.

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What You Need To Do Instead

You need to paint the picture of how your service or product helps people. Absolutely.

And then you need to mention the cost.

If you paint a person a dream and then you tell them, “By the way, that’s a million miles over your budget” you have achieved nothing except making them feel bad.

Oh, and wasted everyone’s time.

Your business is an equal equation.

Service = money.

Where you put in a service and you get an equal compensation in return.

Guys who say, “Leave the costing until the end” are misleading because you don’t know the service you’re providing unless you know the cost.

Bespoke, Not Broke

If you’re actually a businessperson, you understand that you tailor your offer to the client’s needs and budget.

If someone says to me, “Jamie… I need a twenty email funnel and a sales letter at the end of it” then I can do that.

When someone says, “Jamie, I need a quick sales-focused email to send to my list tomorrow,” I can do that too.

But I’m not going to talk to someone who wants the latter about the former, and I certainly can’t charge the price of the former for the latter’s work output.

If someone has a limited budget, that’s equally as important as the work you do.

If someone has $500, then they can’t afford a whole website, email set up, landing pages, etc.

And you need to know that when you’re negotiating with them, because otherwise you say, “Well we can do this…” and they say, “Sure, that sounds great for $5.”

Don’t waste everyone’s time.

How To Talk About Price

People want the exact “how-to” stuff, and while there’s artistry to the timing of these things, it’s really not that difficult.

“I want X.”

“Well, we do A, B, C, and D. What specific results are you looking for and what are the details like time limits and budget on the project?”

I know there are people out there who’ll say, “This is a terrible idea you have to sell them first” and to be honest, they get a suspicious eyebrow from me.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has said something as innocuous as the above and had a person say, “What do you mean “Budget” you greedy capitalist PIG!”

Because companies are expecting to pay you and they know it is coming.

I know people want to share Wolf of Wall Street videos and act like their uber-alpha-male negotiation skills are some elite skill, but honestly, I’ve never experienced this.

And I think this is idle daydreaming by Twitter killers, middle managers and the occasional sales pitch by some dude with a dubious history of doing what he’s trying to teach.

In reality, you rarely need uber-negotiating-tactics. You want something. The person opposite you wants something. You’re just compromising on what you give and what you get.

There is no real magic there, nor animosity.

Price is just another detail that you’re ironing out. So get it over and done with, make sure you’re both on the same team and make sure you’re both tailoring the same expectations and project size to suit the budget.


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