How to price what you do

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here pals.

Traditional ways of pricing are bad for our mental health.

There. I said it!

I’m not one for a five step process to perfect anything (as a recovering raging perfectionist, I’m learning not to strive for perfection in the first place!), so this isn’t one of those listicle posts.

But if you want a different view on how to price what you do, peppered with a few ideas to try out for yourself, read on MacDuff.

(is that a real reference? No? Ah well, it’s staying anyway – bugger perfectionism and all that)

What is traditional pricing?

When I say traditional pricing I mean the way that we are taught, conditioned, indoctrinated to believe that value is calculated.

That time = money.

Your contract says 37 hours a week. With one hour a day for lunch. Make sure someone is around to answer the phone before you go for a wee. If you need to leave early to pick up the kids from school (or the cat from the vet in my case), you need to make up those hours. If you work late, you can request overtime or time off in lieu.

All of these are none-too-subtle cues that our time is what holds our value.

That we need to be in the office for 8+ hours a day to give the company what’s due to them.

And y’know what, in some ways I get it.

Back in ye olde days of yore, when we were transitioning from an agricultural society to an industrialised one, lots of us worked in factories.

Factories without electric lights.

So it made sense that we needed to work during daylight hours.

We each formed a part of the production line, so we needed to sit near each other.


We now have electric lights. We have wifi.

We can have freedom.

And we can chuck the time = money thing out the window.

Why is it bad for our minds?

I genuinely believe that pricing based purely on our time is bad for our mental health.

It leads us to think that our value is to be found in the hours we put in.

It naturally leads us to overwork.

It says our earning potential is capped to the number of hours or days we want to work.

It’s also hard-wired to mean that the better we are at our jobs, the less we get paid?! If we price based on time and in a years time we can do something quicker than we can now, then we get paid for an hour’s less work.


A few thoughts on how to price what you do

So if we’re not gonna base our prices on how long it takes us to do a thing, what we going to base them on?

When all you can see around you is one model, it’s hard to imagine there are others out there.

Well someone like Steph from Innovate and Thrive Co is your expert here, but I tend to consider three factors when setting my prices:

1. The value the thing has to the person who needs it – this takes into account one of my other fundamental beliefs, that just because work is easy (or quick!) for you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have potentially enormous value for the person who needs it
2. How much of me goes into it and the impact it will have on me to deliver it – this is all about protecting my mental health. If something is going to really take it out of me, I’ll need time to rest and recuperate – time that I won’t be working
3. An idea of how long it will take me – the last thing I think about is time investment on my part. It makes sense for my Fresh Air package of 6 sessions is more expensive than my Inhale one-off session because it’s more time investment from me AND it’s more valuable to the person who needs it AND I’ll need more time to recuperate

Fundamentally, I believe that our pricing should be based on value and our value is not just based on the time we put in.

If this resonated with you pal

Then the lovely Steph and I have got you.

We’re hosting a 90 minute workshop – Pricing for Positive Mental Health – on Thursday 23rd August and you’ll get to think through what your pricing should be based on, as well as getting access to Steph’s amazing model to help you actually set your prices.

Get out of that money = time trap chum!

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