What am I really worth?

It’s one of the most common questions I hear from coaches, consultants, and other fee-based service providers.  The idea that you can charge top-tier rates for providing a top-value service feels severely uncomfortable to some people.

I have some friends who teach kids how to learn and play music online through worksheets.  She creates the worksheets, and he takes care of the tech side of the biz.  For months, they (who are also married) have debated what to charge, or if they should even charge at all.

She, who is a bit more conservative, says that all she would charge for a regular piano lesson is $10 or $15 an hour.  But the materials they’ve been releasing online have become wildly successful, and they are virtually giving them away.  They are no longer a fee-per-hour service — they create materials that can be consumed at any time.

So, how do you approach this fairly for your would-be clients and customers, while making a reasonable living for yourself?

Here’s my opinion.  And note — this is primarily for fee-based service providers like coaches, trainers, and teachers.

We are now living in an “Expert’s Economy.”  That means teaching and learning happens in places other than classrooms and with materials other than books and slide projectors.  People learn through a variety of means from a stock of different kinds of teachers.

Through this revolution, new and increasing levels of both convenience and comprehension are being folded into the mix.  New tools are allowing students to better understand what you’re trying to teach them.

As well, it’s become easier for people to learn.  With my music teacher friends, these worksheets are created so that they can be accessed one at a time, at any time of day.  They are interactive and increasingly recognized by industry leaders as superior teaching materials.

And the fact that they are releasing these materials to the public means they can help more people than they would if she were just seeing students on an hourly basis.  The service she’s providing may not be quite as customized, but she’s providing the same end result — a student can develop and grow from her lessons.

So, what should they charge?

Excellent question, and one without one right answer.  But usually, it’s higher than you think it is.

The first way to look at it, is “What is the Value I’m Providing?”

Let’s say they decided to release these worksheets one at a time, or a la carte.  If she would normally charge a student $20/lesson, isn’t it fair to say that the one worksheet and its corresponding audio/video content, is worth at least $10-15 without custom instruction?  She’s providing solid content; the same she would during the lesson.

And by providing that content in a manner where the student (and her/his parent) don’t have to drive to the lesson (money saved) and can access it anytime (higher convenience) worth a few dollars as well?

Using that model of thinking, I would price those worksheets at $20/each, assuming the average student takes the same amount of time and learns an equal amount as she would from an in-person lesson.

(And with good marketing, they could hundreds or thousands of worksheets at that price, all at a $20x multiplier.  100 worksheets sold = $2,000.  1000 = $20,000, etc.)

Next angle: “How is My Time Best Used?”

If you’re providing service and education to that many people, shouldn’t you be paid appropriately for it?

This is the sticking point for many would-be entrepreneurs.  A lot of people think that they are raking customers over the goals if they charge higher prices.  But if your lessons are helping a lot of people to get the education they have desperately been searching for and helps make a drastic improvement in their lives, it’s completely appropriate that you be compensated fairly.

And by charging a reasonable amount, even if that’s a high price tag, you are then able to continue providing those services to other students AND live a lifestyle that keeps you content.  American Dream, right?

There’s more to the argument, but the bottom line is that in order to charge what you’re worth, you have to reframe your thinking.  Consider it not to be what you’re worth, but the value that you’re bringing to someone’s world.