Pricing your SEO services, especially as a starter, can be challenging. Here are some tips to get you started.
Lidija: I have a question.
Lidija: I’ve had a chance to practice setting up everything for my client, setting up tracking conversions, and even a report. Since I’m in training, I’m wondering how to go about pricing. So, firstly, I was wondering, should it be a one-time price, or should they price it differently? I would like to point out I’m in training, so I’m confident I can set up things properly. With this group, I’m also confident I can create a report that makes sense. I have a place to ask if I have any doubts about that. But I’m not sure how to approach it. I’m super willing to be transparent and give a good price for the benefit of both sides. I was just in Nathan’s coaching, and I was asking similar questions, but it feels like I’m inventing something out of thin air. I have nothing to reference. I don’t know what you would think.
David: So, the first thing is that I know you are just getting started. But you do know a lot more than you realize. And you know more than the client. So don’t price yourself based on what you think you know or don’t. Price yourself based on the value you provide your client. You are going to figure out the problem. If there’s a problem, you’re going to figure it out. So, you are worth the money. Don’t undervalue yourself so that you don’t have the time to pursue it. Okay. So, I want to cheer you on to not go too cheap. Okay. But I prefer a monthly retainer more than a one-time project price. Clients will sometimes prefer a one-time setup, but SEO is an ongoing thing. We can’t just do something once, walk away and expect it to work. And I want clients to understand that when they start working with me. So, I rarely take on one-time projects. I want them to see that this is a long-term investment in their business. And they will make money from the money they give me. So, I ask clients to make at least a six-month commitment and to pay me monthly for the six months. This is because Google will say if you hire someone to do this, it’s going to take six months. In my experience, that’s exactly right. And sometimes, clients get a little frustrated after the third or fourth month. Where’s my money? Well, it takes six months. And it’s so funny, once we get to the six-month mark, they’re making money. They don’t care anymore. And they’ll keep paying me every six months. But it does take time to get all this set up. And so I want to set that expectation for my client that they are investing in their business. This is not a cost of doing business. This is an investment, where if they spend money with you as a provider, they will make more money. And that’s harder, but it’s true. And I want them to commit to the project rather than me doing a one-time project and walking away, and they’ll be disappointed because it’s not going to do all they hoped it would do.
Lidija: So, David, can you explain what comes into what you do for your clients? So, when you start tracking, you start following the data and interpreting, but then do you help them? Obviously, help them to resolve those issues. So just want to understand if that’s something I could consider or not.
David: Yeah. The Curious Ants Process 12345. That’s literally what I do on day one. What I do is I calculate two things, how much they’re paying me, and that should translate into approximately how much time each week I can dedicate to that client, based on what I feel is my going rate of charge. So, if my going rate is $50 an hour, and they pay me $500 a month, that’s 10 hours a month or two and a half hours a week. And so. I will then do two and a half hours a week. Sometimes I’ll do two or three hours a week. And sometimes, if it’s a new client, I’ll do a little bit more, so maybe like the first month or two, three hours a week. And then eventually dial back, and then I do as much as I can through the process for that amount of time.
David: It’s just sitting down, putting my head down to work, and saying, start at step one, go to step two, and if I’m good and I’m fast, I’m getting through step three within an hour. Right? And the more experience you have, the quicker it is. But your time is worthwhile, so that’s how I typically calculate it. Now there is another piece of this when I price to my clients. I add on what I call a production budget. And that means that they pay me so much a month, and I take between 20 and 33% of that amount they pay me every month, and I spend that money for them. This allows me to do several things. Number one, I can write a blog post for them, but I will be very slow, and that’s time away from doing things like setting up analytics or doing conversion rate optimization or whatever. So, I have a production budget. Let’s say they pay me $1,000 a month. I do a $200, 20% production budget, and I spend that $200, maybe on content with a writer who could write the content much faster and better than I can. And so now I’m not only giving them time, but I’m also giving them articles. And what I really like about this production budget idea is that the client needs words on their website to succeed in SEO, but they don’t have time to write it, and if I wait for them to write it, they’re never going to do it. So, if I have money to spend on their behalf, by spending it with a writer, great, maybe I can get two articles for that amount of money every month. One will be a blog post, and one might be a landing page. And now I’m helping a client, and they’re just paying me one price. And they pay that one price all the time, but because I have extra money built in to help them, that helps them continue to progress things. Because then I’m not waiting on them. I still want them to approve the content before I publish it. Right? To make sure it’s accurate and teach me so I can better learn their business. But if someone’s an expert in the industry, say they’re a plumber, they might be the best plumber in the city, but they might not be a good writer.
Lidija: Absolutely. And I don’t want them to write. They have better things to do than write a blog post for me.
David: I have a writer who can write for them, and it’s better for them that they need to pay that person. And when I calculate my rate, I’m just passing that money through to the writer. That’s just money lost in my mind, but it helps the client. So, I always add a production budget. Sometimes it’s more because sometimes topics are more difficult. And sometimes it’s less because anybody can write about this. I have one client that I have to hire a professor, a retired professor at a University, to write their content. That’s expensive.
SEO seems hard- you have to keep up with all the changes and weed through contradictory advice. This is frustrating and overwhelming. Curious Ants will teach you SEO while bringing your website more traffic and customers- because you’ll learn SEO while doing it.