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Yesterday, I wrote about the first five things you should do as soon as a new client hires you. Today, I want to tackle how to price your work and explain the pricing you choose to your new client. So, here are steps six through ten:

6. Whenever possible, I devote a separate meeting entirely to pricing. It’s essential to price every aspect of your presentation before giving your client a cost. Study each and every element of your design and consider every single service you’re offering; write everything down and draft a comprehensive budget. And whatever you do, don’t forget to factor in your time! Determine an hourly rate and include it in your budget.

7. Even with a thorough and explicit budget, pricing is still tricky. I have been in the wedding and event industry business for many, many years, and I continue to struggle with this. I want to give all of my clients magic, but sometimes that’s hard to accomplish on their budgets. The budget and pricing you determine in step six is your opportunity to show your client exactly what your designs and ideas will cost to produce. Of course there are always going to be negotiations; if you haven’t already, accept that this is just part of the business. And remember, clarity is key.

8. While it’s likely you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your ideas in order to stick within your client’s budget, please don’t give away your design. It’s not fun, but while you are designing, you must keep price in mind at all times. This especially is very hard for me! My dream designs almost always cost more than my clients are willing to pay. Some of the designs I’m most proud of have never happened, because they were too expensive.

9. Once you and your client agree on a budget, request a check for 50% of the total cost. Secure this money as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the harder it will be for you to place the necessary orders and produce the job.

10. This final step should be non-negotiable: Make it very clear to your client that their balance is due in FULL two weeks before their event. Why two weeks? You want to make sure that check clears before the event!

We’ve covered a lot of ground already: getting the job and designing. But this is really just the beginning. You still have to bring this event to life! Next week, I’ll tackle the nuts and bolts of producing an event.

Dear Readers, have you established an hourly rate? If so, do you include your rate in your proposals? If not, you’re probably working for free!

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