Dogs and cats are notorious for getting funny around cash money.TFK
Perhaps this post will offend you, but only IF you have some of the mindset I’m about to poop on. A while back I wrote a post on what I learned working for “love offerings” & “competitive pricing” and at the end, I said I would explore scarcity vs abundance mindset in a forthcoming blog post, but then I never did.
I was thinking of doing a Facebook Live video on this topic instead, but I decided writing it out would be better for me and help force me to be concise and not ramble on.
I often share memes on my FB Author page about putting in the work with professional editing and getting pros to help with things in your business because in the last 18 months I’ve raised my rates for various things I do expertly, NOT regretted it, and also had people tell me in video calls that I’m “gouging” them with my prices. I’ve even seen some of the people who balked at my rates or those of others I’ve referred them to go on and blunder their way forward being “DIM witted”, a term I got from Janet Clark and Tobin Slaven, which stands for “Do It Myself”.
There are many instances when doing almost everything yourself in self-publishing your book truly is the best thing an author should do. Other times it is most certainly better for them if they hired out aspects that are outside of their skill set to a pro.
But that’s not the specific rant of this post.
“I can’t believe people would be willing to pay that.”
I used to feel I could never charge what I do now or else I’d never get clients willing to pay me what I’d like if I did. This was primarily because I was doing my “market research” with broke people who were unable and/or unwilling to invest in quality, and/or who didn’t value my work the way I did.
I think back on “Ishmael clients” who I had agreed to do things for but who were vampires that sucked the life and joy out of me and taught me a lesson in not working for just anybody because I needed money and this prospect was willing to give it to me for my work. What I mean with the name I’m using for these types of clients comes from the story of Abraham, Sarah, and their promised son.
Early in the Bible, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son to be named Isaac, but many years went by and they got tired of waiting. So, Sarah let her husband sleep with her maid in order to produce a son, who they named Ishmael. Although he received an inheritance as a son of Abraham, he wasn’t the promised son Abraham and his wife Sarah were supposed to wait on. I use “Ishmael client” to indicate what happens when we don’t wait for the right clients but agree to work with ones who are not the right fit, and we suffer the consequences for it down the road.
Nearly two years ago I invested shy of $10K in a coaching program and the first thing my mentor Ben told me in our call was to add a zero to the current price I was charging for some of the things I wanted to get more serious about offering as a service. Since I had committed to doing whatever he and the experts in that program said, I wasn’t going to argue his expert suggestion.
I remember telling him “I can’t believe people would be willing to pay that.”
He looked at me over our Zoom call and said, “Steve, that’s a MINDSET issue you’ll have to work on. You are selling yourself short, and there ARE people who’d pay that, and more.”
I don’t remember exactly how he put it, but he basically said I had been fishing in the wrong pond, and that’s why I came to the conclusions I did from my past experiences. If I’d learn and let these guys teach me, I’ll catch bigger fish when I change ponds, so to speak.
I’ll never forget how it felt the first time I got a client at my then-new rate, who didn’t even bat an eyelash or react when I told her my price to coach her in writing a book from start to finish.
And not to mention how it felt when she sent the PayPal payment minutes after the call ended.
It’s hard to develop an abundance mindset in an atmosphere of lack
You see, I struggled with a scarcity mindset for many years in part from never having been taught anything healthy about wealth (not to be confused with riches), and from spending years living on donations, only making my full monthly budget twice in nearly a decade due to consistent and regular shortfalls in pledged support. As a result, I learned to “make do”, live frugally and be thrifty and eventually, to freelance on the side for some more cash. But even in freelance, I lowballed and worked hard for little pay more times than I care to admit.
Such conditions made it difficult for an abundance mindset to thrive in me.
I cannot determine how many trips into the jungles of Peru I didn’t go on over the years because my bank account didn’t give me permission to.
Or how many opportunities the Lord presented us with but I couldn’t obey because I had bowed to the idol of my empty bank account and let it determine what I would and wouldn’t do for Jesus. But, I never once wrote a guilt-laced email to my newsletter followers or supporters nor did I ever write a public FaceBook post like I OFTEN receive from other ministers of the Gospel running into similar budgetary challenges.
I’d let people know about our opportunities and let the Lord work on people’s informed minds if they wanted to sow into us.
But I don’t believe I ever resorted to spiritual manipulation.
Having wealth and being on fire for Jesus are not mutually exclusive
I’d seen firsthand and experienced in the Church, by and large, that if you are a Christian and you have much money, either you must have done something unscrupulous to obtain it, you “loved mammon” or you had “forsaken your first love” and were more focused on creating or accumulating wealth than on loving Jesus. As if being wealthy and on fire for Jesus both couldn’t be possible without automatically being accused of adhering to the “prosperity Gospel”. I may not have strongly felt this way in my own mind, but on some level, I had seeds of such beliefs festering in my heart.
Living as a missionary on support for much of my adult life, I had a limiting belief that would yell at me in my mind, “who do you think you are to charge THAT much for what comes easy to you!”
Just a few months prior to starting the “expensive” (depending on who you ask) coaching, I crowdfunded upwards of $3500 for my daughter’s hospital expenses when she was born here in a third world nation…
…and now, five months afterward, I was somehow able to come up with the first deposit for this program that was a much higher amount than I had raised by simply asking my regular supporters, friends, and family for gifts or loans, telling each one of them personally about this opportunity to invest in myself and grow my skills as an entrepreneur.
I also practiced looking in the mirror and saying “I charge ____ (the amount I was going to charge for my high ticket writing service)” until I could say it without a nervous tick or wincing whenever I told a prospect my prices (thank you for that Joanna Sapir for making me do that in your generous free coaching call that time).
To this day, sometimes I talk to Christians who tell me “nobody will pay that” or “that’s expensive” and then I watch them plead and beg on social media for help financing their ministries and missions. I’ve talked to some 6 and 7 figure-earning business people who say “Steve, you’re still selling yourself short, and people in my industry won’t respect you but instead will think you’re not serious or not a pro if you charge only _______ to make them a book”.
I’ve had those two very different types of people tell me extreme polar opposite opinions.
Within the same hour, even!
In the last 2 years, especially this past year, I’ve had my highest paying clients I’ve ever had in my life. The ones I didn’t lowball were all amazing to work with and I can take pride in the involvement I had in their books or audiobooks.
However, those Ishmael clients I’ve had — the ones I agreed to work with even though I had reservations about working with them or felt they were not a good fit but I agreed to it anyway because I had bills to pay — they have all been the ones who gave me the biggest migraines and ulcers.
I made this mistake four times in the first two years of this business before I learned that if a prospect argues and finagles with me in the original strategy/discovery call over my price, then it’s just foreshadowing the scope creeping that will inevitably come when working together. Ishmael clients have always wanted more out of me, or not paid their invoices on time, argued about other things, or reminded me how much I’m charging them.
They simply make for the lousiest and most entitled clients.
It’s not just double, but exponentially costlier to lowball a client
Do the math: if you have a client and you lower your rate for them in order to guarantee you’ll get the work, AND as you move forward they want more work than you agreed to for that lowball rate, you’re actually doing exponentially more work for less pay, not just double work.
There’s subtraction on the payment PLUS increase on the work.
It took me a few adventures to realize that.
Nope. Not worth it! Not gonna do it.
Before going “all in” on this client business, I used to format people’s ebooks on a “donation” basis and not a fixed price. I saw this same principle play out in that realm, too, before I charged a fixed minimum price. I had clients who paid me only $20 for my work making them an ebook out of their manuscript, while I had a couple of others who’d PayPal me $500 each time I did one of their books.
Want to guess which clients were the most demanding and nitpicky?
You guessed it.
The cheaper ones, NOT the ones who paid more.
In fact, both of the recurring $500/ebook clients would basically just let me do whatever I wanted and trusted my judgment in terms of styling their digital work for them.
Simply put, my “high prices” are a way to help me weed out people who aren’t going to value my work or take their book seriously. Clients with the same scarcity mindset I used to have are always the ones who eventually begrudge that they agreed to work with me because, for them, parting with that money is a huge sacrifice for them, rather than an investment. Clients who paid me as little as possible were always the ones who made it more work.
But back to my mission in Peru
I’m no longer willing to say “no” to the things the Lord tells me to do, but I am getting better at saying no to certain prospects who otherwise could use my help. My prices reflect the anticipated amount of work required for something I’ll agree to so that I can afford my missionary objectives without worrying about the finances to manifest. I have disciples in this lovely nation whom Lili and I help substantially more than we used to when we were broke.
I owe it to the people I serve in Peru to charge “high” prices in my client work and not lowball, otherwise, my wife and I can’t serve them or help them in truly meaningful ways like we ought to.
In closing, let me say that if you want my help with finishing your book, but also want to price shop, then just keep price shopping and skip over me because I don’t fall for spiritual manipulation about how I’ll have some “reward in heaven” if I help you [for free, of course] anymore. I plan on already having rewards in heaven because I was able to help finance more causes and ministries on earth and was obedient to the Lord’s calling on my life.
Not because I volunteered my time for free to help someone do a book on a shoestring budget without any skin in the game other than what they wrote.
The Kind of Clients I Work Best With
If you want my help with starting or finishing your book, and you are open-minded and teachable to try things you may not have tried before, we’ll get along nicely.
If you are willing to trust my creative input and expertise, we’ll be a great fit. So long as you recognize that building your authority and influence needs to be your #1 priority and you trust my process of delivering this to you through the creation of your book, then I’m happy to serve you.
One more thing: you must be willing to work on your dream to impact as many lives as you can. And last but not least, respect my time and professional boundaries.
If you are a coach, consultant, entrepreneur, or an expert looking to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and gain more speaking engagements, but need help writing your book, we can help.
Book a call with me and let’s get down to it!