A case for transparency in pricing

Prior to launching Spruce Rd. two years ago, I was in full-on research mode on how to make the switch to freelancing. My Evernote was full of clipped articles, notes and screenshots on how other freelancers were managing their business. Mind you, this was before e-courses, Pinterest and podcasts were overflowing with information on the topic.

I recently stumbled upon my messy notes from five years ago, and found one central theme that grabbed my attention. It was clear I was hung up on the process, and did lots of digging on the subject.

So, what was the main topic that crept its way into my research over and over again? Pricing.

Apparently, I was so intrigued with not only how much freelancers were charging for their work, but more how they displayed their prices. Did they have packages? Did they leave it open ended on their site with hopes clients would inquire? Did they have a media kit to download or send potential clients?

Two years into my freelance business, and I am much more confident in my approach to pricing. But maybe you’re in the research phase, scrolling through endless Pinterest posts about the topic.

So rather than keeping my strategy tucked behind the curtain, I’m sharing exactly how + why I showcase my pricing. Hey, maybe you also have a messy notebook trying to figure this freelance thing out too!

Transparency in pricing

At the core of Spruce Rd., we value transparency. Our clients know exactly what they’ll walk away with, there are no questions about timeline, and no sleazy upsells along the way. So it only makes sense for us to display our prices publicly. As a consumer, I know that I appreciate knowing the price tag before I inquire about a service. When researching for a service, I often close tabs of businesses that don’t reveal their prices. My assumption (though misguided) is that they are simply too expensive for my budget. I want to attract the brands that aren’t scared by our prices and instead recognize the value. Through transparent pricing we’re avoiding the sticker shock factor.

The alternative to transparent pricing is to pursue a relationship with the potential client and “court” them into the sale. The idea is to build trust with the business, before dollar signs are revealed. Though I like the notion of establishing a relationship, I value an honest and open communication style more. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time discussing their project, when they don’t have the budget quite yet for our services.

An accidental test

Earlier this year, I raised our prices significantly. Previously I listed our prices publicly on our site, though while trying to sort out the details of our new prices I removed the pricing from our site. I waited until we finally had the site re-design complete to reveal our new pricing.

During this 5ish month process, I accidentally tested our previous strategy of transparent pricing versus not listing our prices. It was interesting to see the results!

Once pricing was removed, our inquiries increased drastically. Several emails everyday landed in our inbox requesting pricing for our services. While that seems exciting to have growth in inquiries, I was overwhelmed responding to each inquiry personally while keeping my business afloat.

I found that majority of the inquiries were not the best fit for our services of brand identity design.

The result of not listing our prices was the overwhelming task of responding to emails, informing them that we aren’t the best fit for their needs. Needless to say, the people pleaser side of me hates saying “no” so often and wasting people’s time, so if anything else since posting public prices I’ve enjoyed the peace of just saying “yes” to brands who are looking for + value what we offer.

Packaged services

There are multiple ways you can price your services — value based, packaged pricing, custom proposals — you name it. We value simplicity here, and we recognize where our sweet spot lies. Instead of offering endless design services, we only offer one design package: brand identity design. We’ve tailored our package to equip brands with all the marketing essentials needed up front. We always start with the packaged price, and adjust from there if needed.

From there, we offer brand support only to those clients who received their brand identity from Spruce Rd. This allows us to partner with our clients, and support their design needs as they grow. We’ve learned that we can’t offer these a-la-carte services to businesses who don’t have the quality design to back it. It just doesn’t fit with our model of holistic branding.

Packaged pricing is not only easy on our end of sending quotes, it speaks directly to our ideal clients. They read through our services, and get excited that they’ve finally found a business that offers exactly what they need. I’ve encountered this myself as a consumer, and always take note of how the business grabbed me and got me to purchase.

And there you have it! There are several ways you can display your prices as a service-based industry, but the transparent + packaged price approach is what has worked best for us. Have you tested the waters with pricing, or are struggling with that aspect of your business?