Pricing—Are you charging for your past?

  • By Mikelann Valterra
  • September 16, 2009

mikelann valterra

Mikelann Valterra is the director of the Women's Earning Institute, a money coach, prosperity teacher, speaker and published author. She wrote Why Women Earn Less - How to Make What You're Really Worth.


On Friday I took my ten year old son in for a doctor’s visit. It’s a very busy office. As we were walking down the hallway, he asked me, “Mom, how much does this cost?” I replied without really thinking, “Oh- probably about a hundred dollars.” (Thankfully I do have insurance!) To which he fairly yelled:

“This costs a HUNDRED BUCKS? NO WAY!!”

And of course all the heads turned our way as our nurse quickly hustled us into our little room for our 15 minute visit.

I then proceeded to tell my son that the doctor had gone to medical school and paid a lot for her education, putting in many years. And that hundred dollars also helped pay the nurses. And the building had to pay rent and buy all those supplies. Of course by this time he was engrossed in examining the medical equipment pinned to the wall.

But since I still have YOUR attention, let’s think about us—do we charge enough money to really cover all our costs, including all the time, energy and money we’ve put into becoming who we are?

When you think about pricing, you may be overly fixated on charging for your time. Of course you need to charge enough for that hour of your life that you just gave to someone. And you also need to charge enough to cover all your other costs such as your web development and paying your assistant.

You need to charge enough to cover your prep time as well. It’s not just about your face-to-face time with clients. I get into my office at 8am and pull all my client files for that day. As a money coach, I have a lot of interesting and engaging clients. I remind myself where we were last time and I formulate a game plan for our upcoming session (knowing that any game plan may get thrown out the window depending on what they bring in with them!) This takes time. And good coffee.

But pricing correctly goes beyond this. I have years of experience. Some of this is as a money coach and some of it is in related fields. At this point, I rarely come across something that I haven’t seen before, and I draw on this past experience. It’s not just book knowledge. Sometimes I go with my gut in deciding when it’s time to broach certain subjects such as someone’s past money history or what is really going on with their spending. The hour they spend with me is built on many years that came before that hour.

What about you? You are the sum of your experience and I know that you bring this experience to bear in your work, as you should.

Havi Brooks on Pricing
Havi Brooks writes a fabulous blog called The Fluent Self—and she just wrote a really great post on pricing called Coming Up with Prices. Wanted: Ninjas. She talks about many ingredients that should go into pricing such as all the invisible time that goes into your work like your prep time and all your really invisible work and time that goes into what she lovingly calls “administrative crap.” (Havi- I have to agree with you on this one. Thank goodness we both have great assistants!)

And she talks about charging for your “invisible past time.”

That hour of service you’re giving isn’t just that hour.
It’s everything that has come together in your life to make you the person you are.
It’s all of your acquired wisdom. All of your experience. All of your insight. All of the abilities and qualities you’ve been developing in a lifetime of being you.

I couldn’t agree more.

Stop Doubting Yourself
Let go of being perfect. Stop living in fear of not being able to answer a client’s question. You’ll never know it all. You’ll never be perfect. But you are still worth charging a lot of money. You have a lot of wisdom, experience and insight that comes from your past. This is huge. Do you use these things to help your clients get the results they want? Of course!

So ask yourself: Are the results your clients get worth more than what they are paying you? If the answer is yes, than stop doubting yourself. And raise your fees 10% right now. Because it’s about more than that hour. You have a whole lifetime that has brought you here.

Claim all of who you are. This is worth a lot.

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