Creative Value Blueprint
How To Get Paid What You’re Worth, by Gail Doby, ASID
What is the most common frustration of most interior designers – and most creative professionals? It’s how to get paid what you’re worth for doing what you love.
Have you ever had a client refuse to pay your bill because it was so high? Has this happened even after you comped hours because you were concerned that they would complain?
Have your wealthiest clients ever complained that you billed them for project management on a complex job, and then gone out and bought a new Tesla?
Or maybe your prospects were shocked at your proposed fixed fee because they thought it would be much less than that to do “creative work.”
What’s a designer to do?
It’s stressful talking about money. It’s even more stressful to not make a reasonable income from a profession that requires more knowledge than clients understand. The solution to getting paid fairly requires many adjustments to the way you think about and manage your business. For example:
- What is your mindset about money? Do you feel you deserve to get paid what you’re worth?
- What is your time worth? How do you determine that? Matching your competitor’s fees isn’t the way to determine what to charge.
- Are you comfortable talking about money? If not, it’s time to get training on how to discuss money. When you’re comfortable talking about money, your clients will trust you more and will be happier.
The client’s perceptions about the value of design services come from a lack of knowledge. Educating them is your job.
It’s important to set expectations at the beginning of the project. Ask what they have set aside for the project investment.
Use the words “project investment.” They’re positive and direct without being too direct.
Frame the reason why you’re asking the question. You want to protect their budget and ensure their satisfaction with your work. Trust is crucial, so don’t back down. You must know their limits.
If the client evades your questions about their desired investment, how do you think the project will unfold? Probably not too well. Be firm and kind.
Know what you must earn in your business to pay your bills, pay your taxes, have financial reserves, and achieve financial freedom. This means that you must make friends with your numbers. You have to be able to read your Profit & Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow projection.
Know what size jobs you need to have and how many you need for the year.
Know how to create a budget that accomplishes your personal and professional goals.
Measure your progress frequently. Avoiding numbers is something hobbyists do. You’re a professional, and professionals are committed to making real money. Our clients earn $100K to more than $1M+. What would you like to earn? Start there, and then figure the fees, hours, and types of projects that will get you there.