In this moment, I can’t actually think of any client I’ve ever worked with that hasn’t at some point wondered or (most likely) agonized over what to charge. And I confess, I certainly have grappled with this many times in the past as well.
The question about where to set your rates brings up a whole slew of internal questions and judgments:
How valuable is my work?
What will people think when they hear my rates?
What are other people in my industry charging?
Will anyone buy from me at all?
Am I undercharging?
Am I overcharging?
Can I make a living with those rates?
Will it be worth it?
…just to name a few!
The reason knowing what to charge can create so much tension or confusion is because what you charge relates directly to your ideas around your own self-worth, around the worth of your services, around the worth of your potential clients, around your ability to receive, around how much you deserve, and around how much you are meant to have. Likewise, your rates are also a reflection of your beliefs around money — sometimes they are fueled by a sense of justice, and other times they are fueled by fear.
For myself, I can share that I spent a great deal of time in internal struggle around my rates from waffling on rates when I was actually speaking to a client, to undercharging (when I started, I charged $15/hour!), to getting angry at others who charged much more and beyond.
I’d get super annoyed when coaches and mentors would tell me simply to raise my rates, because it felt much more complex than that on an internal level.
After years of focused commitment to understanding where my rates should land, asking the hard questions about my struggles around rates, and also after years of experimenting with different things, I’ve developed a way to set aligned rates for myself and for my clients that eliminates a good deal of the anxiety, confusion and tension.
Because here’s the thing: Your rates are completely unique to YOU. They should not be a reflection of anyone else’s standards or industry standards or anyone else’s money story. Rates that are going to work for you need to come from a clean and clear place inside of you.
Here is the way I set my rates. It’s not a “perfect formula”, but rather, a set of guiding questions that will lead you toward what’s most aligned for you:
- What’s the intersection between my time and my desired income?
This is the most practical question that will inform your rates, and it’s a really important one. Find your ballpark rates based on the intersection between the total amount you want to earn and the amount of time you have available. For example, let’s say you would like to earn $5,000/month, and you have time available for 10 clients/month. That would put your rate at $500 per client per month.
Of course, depending on your business and business model (for example, if you’re leveraging your time through group programs) there are other factors that would come into play here. That’s why my team and I devote so much attention to our clients’ business models. Once you’ve got your business model down, you want to then ask this very basic question about income and time to find a starting point for defining your rates.
- How valuable is the transformation you create?
I’ve found that most soul-centered entrepreneurs are not fully connected in to the incredible value of the results and transformation you help your clients create. If you were to ask yourself how valuable the transformation you create actually is — I’m guessing the answer would actually be in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, if not the millions. Helping folks love themselves, or overcome life-long blocks, or create the life they’ve always wanted, or become fully healthy, or find the home of their dreams is no small deal.
Think about how much money some folks will spend on a designer pair of jeans. The reason they’ll spend that much is because they believe the result they’ll receive from wearing those jeans — maybe their buttocks will look amazing, for example — is worth the $500.
So, ask yourself this question. It may not lead you to the exact dollar amount that your rate will be, but it will help you see and understand yourself and your value in a much different way, and this will inform your rates.
- Where is your confidence level?
Just because you come to a place of understanding how valuable your work is, doesn’t mean you’re ready to charge that rate. I know there’s a lot of talk out in the coaching industry around “just raise your rates” or “find high-end clients”. And some of that talk can be helpful. But the truth is that if you’re not fully confident or owning your value, even though your rates might reflect the value of your work, you will most likely struggle to SELL at those rates, and that means you need to start lower and work your way up.
From my own life, there was a time where I decided I was going to raise my rates, because my mentor and a number of colleagues highly recommended I do so. I changed the numbers on all of my materials and spoke the new numbers in my enrollment conversations, but – I went from basically a 95% conversion rate to a 0% conversion rate fast. It wasn’t because my work wasn’t worth my new rates — it was because I wasn’t confident in those rates. I was scared they were too high, and I wasn’t myself convinced I could deliver the value. It was a big learning lesson for me. I lowered my rates, and for each new client that stepped in, I raised my rates just a little bit. Client by client. I also did some hardcore work on my enrollment skills. That helped me build my confidence in both my service as well as in my ability to sell at higher rates.
- Where are you vibrating?
I know – at the outset, this question sounds a little woo-woo. But go with me here for a minute. About 2 years ago, I got really mad at the business coaching industry. I decided that the “big guru coaches” out there were completely over-charging, that they were delusional, that they had messiah complexes to charge so much, that they were criminal, on and on and on. Yup, and I felt very self-justified in all those judgments.
Then I realized that those judgments would be true for ME if I were to charge those rates because that’s just simply not where I’m vibrating and that’s not where my ideal clients vibrate. But for those other folks out there who ARE charging those much higher rates, perhaps they were vibrating at those rates and so were their ideal clients. Now to be clear, one is not better than another, so long as where you’re vibrating isn’t being covered up by fear, limiting beliefs, or is compromising Question #1, 2 or 3 above. If you’re vibrating at lower or higher rates than others in your industry — it doesn’t mean anything about you or your value or even your money story in relation to others. It’s simply where you’re currently vibrating, and that’s that.
I’ve come to learn that it’s really important to honor this energetic law, and that when you do, you are most likely to charge the aligned amount for you. (Again, you want to make sure it’s not being compromised by any fears or limiting beliefs).
- Are you at peace?
Finally — and this is maybe the most important guiding question here — you want to ask yourself if you are at peace with your rates.
For me, being at peace means that I am charging a rate that isn’t too low. That means that you are stretching yourself just a little bit so that your rates correctly reflect your value, and that through your rates, you are feeling supported to have enough money, time and energy. It also means that you don’t feel resentful that you are over-giving to your clients.
Being at peace also means that my rates don’t feel too high. Feeling you are stretching to charge more than is comfortable is a good thing (because, again, most soul-centered entrepreneurs tend to under-charge), but you don’t want to feel like you are inflating your rates, or taking advantage, or making promises you can’t keep. You also don’t want to feel that you are out of integrity.
Above all else, you want to feel at peace with your rates.
And then of course, your rates will change over time. You and your business are living, breathing entities, and so are your rates. I have found that the more developed I become as a coach, healer and teacher, the more my reputation as a stellar business grows and grows, and also the more I recognize the preciousness of my time, the higher my aligned rate becomes.