Let’s talk frankly about a taboo subject for a moment.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience anxiety or embarrassment when talking about money-related topics. Couples might avoid discussing family finances. Friends find it awkward to tackle money which is owed. Colleagues won’t discuss how much money they earn. Parents may not explain money concepts to children because they don’t think it’s appropriate.
Some people just feel that talking about money is crass.
You can’t live deprived of it. You can’t run a business without it. So why are we so hesitant to talk openly about it?
Whatever money hang ups people may have in their private lives, there should be absolutely no place for awkwardness discussing money where business is concerned – or for charging what you’re worth.
When you first start your language business, issues concerning money and pricing can be one of the top areas of apprehension in this respect – how much to charge? What pricing model to use? How to position oneself? You’re desperate to get in clients.
Panic sets in!
You start looking at competitors and undercutting prices. Bad market practices take hold.
There are a few mistakes that can lead to undercharging.
You undervalue yourself
When you start out it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and affected by imposter syndrome. But when you undervalue yourself, you’ll start to undervalue your services – making diamonds but selling coal.
You set low pricing expectations
Starting at a lower-than-average price can help score clients when you start out. But if you price too low and a customer becomes a regular, you’re trapped in an undercharging cycle. When you go too low, it’s very hard for to bounce back up.
You don’t include all your time
It’s easy to omit calculating the actual time and effort you’re spending on a client. It’s not just the face-to-face time you’re charging for – there’s the training, planning, materials, travel, expenses. Don’t leave these out!
I’m here today to tell you to stop giving your time away for free. Stop it.
Stop it now!
Giving your time away for less than it’s worth is a race to the bottom.
Making sure you are charging adequately for your expertise is far from the greedy, money-grabbing sin many fear it to be.
It has advantages.
Clients who are paying an appropriate amount for a service will be more committed and more likely to follow thorough. You’ll avoid your brand being devalued by economy pricing. You’ll be able to build a sustainable business with a long-term plan. And – last but by no means least – you’ll earn a decent wage!
“OK, so I’m undercharging. How do I get myself out of this fix?”
Get exposed to the community. There is a booming community of language professionals on the web, and your tribe of like-minded experts can assist with their experiences and suggestions for pricing models.
There are exceptions to the “don’t give your time away for free” rule! Giving freebies such as taster sessions, free webinars, no-charge consultations as part of a pre-planned pricing strategy can work wonders. But even when you want to do something ‘free’, that doesn’t have driving revenue at its heart, be aware that there can be pitfalls to doing things at no cost. There will always be someone who wants to suck every bit of free value from you with no intention of ever spending a penny. Charging a very low fee as a gatekeeper tactic is a tried and tested method for keeping out lurkers and freeloaders!
Having made the mistake myself, I now take my own advice.
The important thing in all cases is to be transparent – with yourself, and with your clients. Be open and honest – and be proud of the services you’re selling. Make sure you’re charging what you’re worth, not what people can afford.
My Business Club for Language Professionals. is a hub for language professionals to share insights and knowledge in the industry. You’ll be able to find great people in your industry to cross-reference prices and ask for advice. And the best thing is, they’re just a click away!