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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

Value-Based Pricing: Breaking Down the Cost of Marketing Services for You AND Your Clients

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

Warren Buffett

Discussions around pricing can be awkward and uncomfortable to navigate for both client and the freelancer/contractor. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Clients, your goal is to find a service provider who can solve your business problem in the most affordable and efficient way possible.

For contractors and freelancers, your goal is to express your value in a way that booking is a "no brainer" for your potential clients. This involves positioning yourself as an expert and allowing others to really see the need for your expertise (all the while making a comfortable and sustainable living so you can continue to serve your higher purpose/sp!)

In this post, we'll delve into various aspects of pricing creative marketing services and what clients and freelancers can expect from the process.

"Price is a story, a story about who we are and what we believe."

Seth Godin

For Clients

Creative services (content creation or optimization, design, PR, SEO and more) have the power to drive massively meaningful transformation for your small business, through increased brand awareness, increase traffic and visibility and improved credibility and authority.

At the end of the day you're not just paying for flowy words or pretty designs on a screen. You're paying for long-term Growth and Impact.

If you understand your long-term business goals and objectives then you should be able to see how marketing is a worthy investment in your future.


  • Pricing isnt static. It will vary based on factors such as project complexity, timeline, and capacity/availability and market demand.

  • Please don't ask for discounts or unpaid/speculative test assignments! If YOU wouldn't want to work for less, why would we?

"Charging what you're worth isn't just about the number, it's about the mindset."

Denise Duffield-Thomas

For Freelancers/Contractors

Understanding and appreciating your unique skills and expertise is key in setting the right pricing structure and establishing a sustainable and prosperous creative business. For freelancers, the foundation of any pricing strategy lies in understanding the value you bring to the table.

Your Price Equation

  • Cost of Living (utilities, insurance, etc)

  • Confidence in your abilities

  • A refined skill set (training, education, certifications)

  • Relevant work experience (your portfolio, history and background)

  • The promise of transformative outcomes

This means being able to

  • communicate transparently regarding your qualifications and how they contribute to the overall cost of your services, expertise, and dedication required to deliver high-quality results

  • articulate the value proposition of your offerings - being able to "sell" the larger and long-term value of your deliverables beyond the basic time and effort.

  • say 'No' to those wanting to pay by the word. Your work is so much more than a tally of words. It's depth, meaning, skill, research, experience and high-level thought and integration.

In other words, it's all about believing in and conveying your own worth to align with the clients' perception. Highlight the unique benefits and transformations your services offer.

Paint a vivid picture of the RESULTS your clients can expect to achieve with your guidance.

Let them see why it’s worth spending their hard-earned cash. Let them see what life would be like after working with you.

At the end of the day, the perceived value of the outcomes has to outweigh the perceived value of the amount of money they have to pay for those outcomes.

Regenerative Pricing: The Middle Way

In the beginning, offering lower prices may SEEM like you're embodying a value of accessibility, but be forewarned this decision may come at a high personal cost. If your pricing is impacting your own personal wellbeing and your ability to sustain a business, then it it far too low! True sustainability lies in building a regenerative, self-fulfilling business, one that prioritizes both the individual AND the collective. The goal is to achieve a balanced approach, a business that continuously nurtures yourself and the community.


  • Don't forget to protect your time and energy by implementing fees for rushed delivery, late payments and scaling pricing based on demand and capacity.

  • Avoid giving discounts or offering speculative work or unpaid test projects as this can undermine your credibility and profitability.

  • Know your numbers! Pay close attention to your financial metrics, business projections, and expenses in order to make informed business decisions

  • If you're a new freelancer, you may decide to offer low introductory rates in the beginning as you are integrating new services, gaining experience and confidence, and establishing credibility. However, it's crucial to still be selective about your clients, communicate the temporary nature of the rates, and quickly reach market-average rates as your skills and experience grow.

"The moment you make a mistake in pricing, you're eating into your reputation or your profits."

Katharine Paine

Charging Your Worth, Paying for Value

Remember, writing (and editing, designing and creating) are all highly skilled jobs.  These are highly specialized and valuable skills- even with AI. Beyond this, your work has the potential to make your clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. You deserve to make more than minimum wage!

Are you charging enough as a freelancer? Here are some questions to help you decide if you should raise your rates:

• Does every (or almost every) prospect say yes?

• Are most of your clients thrilled with your work?

• Do you have to juggle many different clients to pay the bills?

• Are you doing more than 5 hours of client work a day?

• Do almost all of your clients work with you more than once?

• Are you struggling to make ends meet while doing amazing work?

• Are you charging below-average rates for an above-average service?

More often than not the answer is, "You NEED to charge more." And there's no need to ask permission, explain or justify why. Just do it! You set your rate, and clients can take it or leave it.

It’s expensive to live, and even more so as a freelancer when you factor in health insurance, self-employment taxes, and other hidden costs. You also NEED to have a savings fund to get through the slow times, a retirement plan to look forward to, and yes- you still deserve a vacation! Because of this making $100,000/year is slowly becoming the MINIMUM, not the end-goal.

Bottom line: Charge for your work.

The following resources can help ALL of us achieve our goals and figure out if you're charging (or receiving) a fair price.

A 1% price improvement results in an 11.1% increase in profits.

Harvard Business Revie

Pricing Strategies for Creative Services

Pricing by the hour may seem straightforward but it demands meticulous tracking and delineation of billable hours. Time is a finite, non-renewable resource.

Offering services within defined packages ensures clarity and sets boundaries for projects. Experts recommend pricing packages in three tiers or levels because it allows businesses to cater to different customer segments, provide clear options for decision-making, and effectively communicate the value proposition of their services or products.

What you call these levels is up to you, but here are some common examples:

  • TOP/HIGHEST: Premium, Gold, Deluxe, Platinum, Ultimate, Pro, Executive

  • MID: Silver, Standard, Gold, Advanced, Plus, Professional

  • BOTTOM/LOWEST: Basic, Bronze, Economy, Silver, Starter, Lite, Starter

Feel free to mix and match these words to create a combination that best suits your needs!

My personal favorite: Crown Chakra, Heart Chakra, Root Chakra (if you know, you know :) )

The ultimate goal?

Long-term retainer-based services coupled with transparent value-based pricing is a win-win for all, offering benefits and advantages for both clients and contractors/freelancers.

For clients

  • predictable, consistent cost/expenses

  • priority/dedicated access to services and expertise

For contractors

  • stable, reliable income

  • the ability to plan workload effectively

  • loyal, foundational clients

Additionally, it builds the opportunity for honesty, trust, respect, and fosters greater connection and collaboration between both parties, thus leading to better quality outcomes and mutual success.

"It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it."

Nelson Mandela

Transparency is Power

There is no way around it: Money is a sensitive subject for many people.

Do you understand the human behavior behind the sale?

Everyone has a different relationship with their money. Thus there are different types of buyers and spenders:

  1. Those who understand the value of money and what it means to them. Those who are willing to spend more money based on a quality, elevated experience

  2. Those who are looking for a good value, but don't understand what that value means to them and in terms of having a great experience

Pricing for marketing services is not just about assigning a number to a deliverable. There is an immense amount of expertise, time, and resources invested in every project, small or large. That is why I am passionate about transparent pricing.

Transparency is part of my business pricing process because

  • aligns with my values of honesty and integrity

  • fosters trust and authenticity in my client relationships

  • helps build meaningful connections

  • empowers clients to make informed decisions based on their budget and needs.

Reminder: there is a ton of "invisible work" that happens for every service, well beyond the straightforward deliverable. Acknowledging this work allows us to better engage in mutually beneficial partnerships. As you evaluate pricing for freelance marketing services, whether its content marketing, copywriting, SEO or web design, remember to look beyond the surface to appreciate the true value that lies within.

Wrapping It Up

Service rates carry energy. When rates align with the perceived value and effort invested, they evoke a sense of fairness and satisfaction, resonating positively with both the service provider and the client. It's essential for service rates to FEEL good, as this alignment fosters a harmonious exchange of value, enhancing the overall experience and relationship between the provider and the client.

But beyond that, pricing, no matter who you are, is not just about the bottom line, or money in the bank. It's also a story about social responsibility and global wellness.

Fair, living wages and transparent, sustainable/regenerative pricing models benefit EVERYONE. At the end of the day, we all want and DESERVE the same things: success, recognition, happiness, health, wealth, and to use our gifts to make a difference in the world. That's why we need to structure our lives and work (and wages) in ways that allow us to maintain our well-being, invest in our growth and development, so that we can continue to deliver high-quality results consistently.

I strive to create a supportive and symbiotic relationship with my clients, and hope that they want the same in return. We are in an ecosystem, all connected as one. When everyone is able to thrive in their truth and purpose, we are better able to contribute to the greater good, our relationships, communities and something much larger and more meaningful than ourselves: collective peace and prosperity. What could be better than that?


Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.

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