Creating Freelance Pricing Tiers

As a freelancer who focuses on marketing materials, I’m pretty interested in the various marketing strategies used in different industries–both traditional marketing materials (like website copy) and less-typically-thought-of tactics, like pricing strategy.

As a business-to-business magazine editor I’ve had the opportunity to research and write about this topic frequently.


Retail stores employ what they call a “good-better-best” strategy. They stock three products in each category to interest different levels of consumer.

The “good” product, is the cheapest. It’s for those consumers just looking for a bargain. The “best” product is for those who associate high quality with high price. They want the best. The middle price is for everyone else – it makes them feel like they aren’t overpaying (by buying the “best”) but they aren’t being cheap either.

Freelancers can do this same thing with the products / services they offer. A “good” product might be an ebook, or some thing that generates passive income – a blog with ads, affiliate links, ebook / video downloads, etc. A “Better” product might be one of those items combined with consulting or editing services, or it might be a group class or seminar. A “Best” would be to have you do it for the client.

Creating a tiered system like this allows you to have “something for everyone.” That client who can’t afford to pay you to write their press release? You can tell them, “Here’s a great guide on how to do it yourself!”

Having a “good” product makes for less work.

An info-product (items in that “good” category) can also benefit you in other ways.

It can lay the ground work–so, before you work with a client, they would read the book and it gives them a jumping off point. If they’ve read it you know they have a basic understanding and it puts all of your clients on the same level before you begin working with them – one client of mine is a nutritionist; we’re creating a book that teaches them the basic principles of his nutritional plan. It walks them through the most basic of the basic.

Alternatively, you can make it teach the parts of coaching that you don’t like. For example, I don’t like to do PR, but I don’t mind writing press releases – so I’m working on white papers (or a mini ebook) on how to build a press list for a small business. It’s something that most small business owners would probably find useful, but that I haven’t seen anyone else providing. Then, clients can hire me to write the press releases but craft their own press list and distribute those releases.

But, back to pricing strategy.

Not Just What, But How

However, it’s not just about having three tiers–It’s also about how you present them. I recently attended international freelancers day and listened to Jonathon Fields (@jonathanfields) presentation: “How to Trigger the Big 5 Subconscious Buy-Buttons Without Feeling Like a Slick Idiot (videos are available in exchange for your email address) and Jonathon had some really interesting things to say about how you list those prices.

He agreed with the practice of having three price points (ideally 3) for any product. But specifically noted that those prices should be listed most expensive to least expensive.

Here’s why: if someone sees a $5 product then a $10 then a $20 product $10 and $20 seems like a lot. But if you put a $20 then a $10 then a $5 most people will buy the $10 product – it’s seen as “cheaper” than the $20 product without being “cheap” (the $5 product), and most people will go with the middle option.

Interesting, no?

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