Pricing has always been problematic for people. It's the same whether we're in business, at a car boot sale or selling to a friend.
We get stuck in our own mental model of the world. The trouble is, the world we're stuck in is of our own making. It's not the same world as the one we're trying to sell into.
If that concept is new to you, then I'm delighted to be the one to introduce it. We truly are all different, and it's why there's no cookie cutter method for making money other than selling something for more than you paid for it (be it money or time).
When it comes to pricing, there's only two models you need to be aware of:
1. Commodity and Luxury
2. Essential and non Essential
Commodities are essential. That's why they're commodities. Everyone knows what they are, and they also know their cost.
Luxuries are non essential. Everyone knows what they are, but they don't know their cost.
The trick in pricing is to turn a commodity into a luxury, and then turn that into an essential. And the way to do that, which has never changed in the history of marketing, is to add value to the commodity you're selling.
This is how Ford were able to turn Mondeos into Jaguars and double the price for less than the cost in the early 2000s.
If we take a recent example in the Science of Copywriting Facebook group, Lee Dickinson asked about proofreading fees. Now there's a commodity in the writing world if ever there was one.
It's a commodity because we can all read. But it still has a certain amount of value because we cannot all spell. And that value increases further because not all of us are good at grammar (though both these values are being commoditized through apps).
This moves the proofreader closer towards the professional end of the market, but no one's going to get rich.
So how can you add more value?
First you need to do the obvious – position yourself as different from the average proofreader.
One way to do that is show evidence you always deliver 100% error free work (even the most popular books contain typos – you can use that as a differentiator once you have a few jobs under your belt).
Another way is to treat each job as a project rather than at an hourly or wordcount rate. That is, you talk with the publisher about expected sales (they'll know how large the first print run will be – so they'll have some idea about this).
This adds a higher degree of responsibility to the task, and so increases the value.
For example, J K Rowling's publishers would have paid a considerably higher price for getting her last book proofread than her first book (and no doubt at J K Rowling's insistence too).
When you explain that you treat every project with the same 100% degree of accuracy, people who care will be happy to pay a premium for it (who wants badly proofread books?).
Another way is to become a specialist proofreader. Pick an industry you know a lot about, and only pitch to publishers who sell to that sector. This will give you far higher status and allow you to become the player in that sector.
Put those three ideas together and you get a specialist with a 100% accuracy rate who works only on projects. And that will command a considerably higher price.