Common Mistakes: Under or Over Pricing Yourself Out of the Game

Have you ever been so excited about a job that you just wanted to give it away? It could have happened this way: You meet wonderful clients and you instantly fall in love with them. They tell you about their job, you can easily visualize the design in your head and maybe this could be the most amazing job you have ever done.

However, this always happens next: You come back to reality to discuss the mundane. Money. Costs.

The thing is, from the bottom of my heart, I think events should be about transporting your guests for those few hours to a world of warmth, beauty,  elegance and grandeur, giving them that once in a lifetime experience.

The bummer is that this comes with the cost of a price tag.  In my humble assessment, I think that if most folks had the financial resources, we would see a lot more of these life changing moments within events.  That is how generous I think most people are.

In the meantime, we still need to work on creating memorable events within a budget–even for those who have very deep pockets.

Most millionaires and billionaires got there by being very smart about how they spend their money, make no mistake about this.

I am still hoping and praying for that one client to actually say: Preston the sky is the limit, just do your thing.

To ensure you don’t price yourself out of a job, check out a few of my tips:

  • Be careful about underpricing. At times the clients might actuality think, “This is to good to be true,” and it just might be. You don’t want to undercut too much of yourself.
  • This is obvious, but also be careful about over pricing. The client might think you are “taking them to the cleaners.”
  • If it’s possible and if you mostly hold the role of the artist or creative within your business, try to set it up so that you never, EVER, discuss money with your clients. Have a trusted associate who understands pricing and your business financials to do it.
  • The best strategy for explaining prices to clients is visuals.  When I buy a shirt in a store, I actually get to try it on or hold it before buying,  I know what I am getting and can more readily justify the price.  This is the same thing your clients need.  They need to understand what they are buying before agreeing.
  • Never ever send a proposal to your client without actually sitting down and explain in great detail the pricing line by line.

So, good luck the next time you are pricing a job that excites you. Think of yourself as your client (though I personally always end up spending way more than I planned when I entertain). Most clients just want to understand what they are paying for, and it’s up to you to explain it, get the job, and make a good profit.

Have you ever lost a job because your price was too high or too low? Be honest, have you ever been so excited about a job that if given the opportunity you would actually do it for free?

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  • http://YOURWEBSITE John Murph

    Hi Preston,
    Once again, you know how to break it down to the essence of things. We writers go through the same thing with people asking us to lend professional work basically for free. And oftentimes, their arguments is something like, “It could be cool and fun,” without realizing that in order for it to be successful — whether press release, blog or web site — that it takes committed and professional energy.

    Years ago, I took a stance: “NO MORE WRITING FOR FREE.” And even during this period of being laid-off, I have to hold onto that. Thanks for reminding me.

  • http://noneasyet. barbara

    Yes I did ,,under price,and did not explain the ball by ball costing,,clients think its too much for one day,,especially if you have the venue to work the night before ,,onto the next day,,all the before prep ,,they don;t see,,don’tmention close friends and family,,as least to cover my costs incured.

  • Haute Chocolate

    I certainly have comitted this sin, as I am sure many newbies such as myself have. Being a artist < sometimes I get so wrapped in the love of creating that I have to literally pull myself back and say – this is a business dear, you here to create & make money doing it! Thanks again for creating this blog and inspiring so many people with your talents :-)

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Hany

    I lost a job two days ago because I was perceived as overpriced the job compared to the requirements although I offered my minimum but they expected less so they asked someone else to do the job although they admit, during the meeting and before discussing fees, that I was more than qualified than my competitors to do the job and exceeded the expectations. My dilemma is that should I have agreed on their price? Note that the difference between what they offered and my minimum is not great!

  • Nishaka Askew Proctor

    Great Blog. It is a challenge at times helping a potential client understand the value and services they are getting for their project. I try to to ask as many questions as possible in our first meeting to get the full scope and vision of the event to better determine the pricing when developing the proposal. I have under priced early on and it ended up being much work than I was prepared for and was not profitable for me. I look forward to the day to adding on an associate to handle duties such as sending and reviewing proposals with client. Great information!

  • Hilary – FantaSeas Weddings and Parties

    Hi Preston,

    I try my best to create the image that sits in my clients heads and paint them on a verbal canvas. When it comes to the money department, my goal is to satisfy that new “art piece” within their budget or even below. I love the “wow factor”, especially when it’s coming from myself; I love to challenge

    However, sometimes it gets me in trouble, going beyond the call of duty for “free” and expected to. Do not get me wrong, I love the challenge of creating something amazing, that my couples could see as breaking their banks and having them look at me when the numbers are pulled, and say, thank you for protecting our interest and realizing our dream wedding. I also would like in that same sentence, “I do not expect ‘free services’ for areas I would have to pay others to do.”

    So when I did under price or give free service, I found that I did more work than usual, had more out of pocket cost on myself and one big headache at the end of the day. However, it’s my passion so I fight myself always never to commit that sin again.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Gloria Brown


  • http://YOURWEBSITE Gloria Brown

    Pricing a job is a mystery to me. I do realize that prices can be different from city to city but what is the formula for pricing an event? I haven’t started in the business as of yet but plan to within the coming months.

  • Seb

    well you have to charge your sevcrie of course and you also have to see where and the cost of gasoline that is one thing you have to charge. you should also make some good relationship with vendors around town to give you a commision having that said , its all about her budget and your cost the phrase contract me and ill do the rest always works you will get a little bit more experience after that . hope this worked