The most common methods of offering your web design services is a fixed price by project or by selling your time with a retainer or set of hours. But there is a new and up and coming wave of service providers like web designers, graphic designers and marketers who are offering Day Rates which are not to be confused with “websites in 24 hours” or selling your time in a retainer of course.
I’ll be honest, I was very skeptical of this style of billing because the thought of selling a whole day seems foreign to me but I have to say, after hearing about how Day Rates changed the business and life of my guest, Sarah Masci, founder of the Day Rate Mastery program, I’m much more open to it!
In this episode, you’ll find out what it’s all about and even if you don’t want to change your entire business model, you see that there are numerous ways to implement it in your existing business model.
Enjoy and if you try it out, comment on the post and let me know how it goes!
In this episode:
03:32 – Welcome to Sarah
06:43 – Growing pains
10:05 – Beginning of Day Rate
12:48 – Billing premium
18:11 – Never promise
19:30 – Clients being available
22:02 – Start with a day
24:47 – Long projects or short
27:08 – Recurring income
30:46 – Going separate ways
33:16 – Clients that do day rate
35:56 – Difference in clients
37:48 – Returning clients
41:20 – Perceived value
44:51 – Simplicity and freedom
50:05 – Clear framework
52:32 – Where to find Sarah
53:31 – Test it on current
This episode sponsored by Josh’s Maintenance Plan Course
Connect with Sarah:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #122 Full Transcription
Hey, friends, welcome into Episode 122, we’re going to dive into a topic that is kind of on the up and up, this is somewhat new, it is becoming more and more popular in all different industries, definitely including web design. And that is the idea of day rates, versus fixed project pricing, which is what I used to do, or what I also used to do, which was hourly retainers, you definitely at the end of the day don’t want to trade your time for money. And when I first heard about this concept of day rates, I kind of thought that is exactly what it was. And I’ll be honest, I was quite skeptical about de rates and how they could work. And would they be applicable for web designers. But I have to say, after talking with my guest, in this episode, Sarah Massey, who changed her business model by implementing day rates and then subsequently changed her life with day rates, I have to say, it seems pretty appealing. And I definitely see the draw.
And the reason I was really excited to talk with Sarah and bring you this episode is I think, even if you don’t want to transition your entire business model, to day rates, you will be able to implement day rates on a micro or macro level in your business. And I’m really, really excited for you to hear what Sara has to say about how to do de rates, how to make sure and how practically they keep you profitable. But I think more importantly, how they help you avoid things like scope creep, and revisions and content collections in projects dragging on months and months and months.
As we discover, and as we kind of pull the curtain back of this day rate model, you really can alleviate a lot of those problems by implementing day rates. So I’m very excited for you to hear from Sarah, to see if this is something that you’d be interested in implementing your business, again, whether it’s just occasionally or in different parts of your business, or maybe you want to consider day rates and see how it goes. This is the episode that’s going to help you do that, if interested.
Now, as we talked about in this episode, one way that I would recommend implementing day rates from a practical and kind of beginning standpoint, is alongside your monthly hosting and maintenance plan. Because as you’ll see, instead of selling a block of retainer of hours, you can actually implement day rates pretty easily with existing clients. And if you don’t have a recurring income source in your web design business yet, through maintenance and hosting, I’m telling you guys right now you are missing out. You are missing the opportunity to stay top of mind with your clients and to build recurring income and feeling more safe and secure with your work because you can host it and maintain it. And if you don’t have that set up, or maybe you want to take your plan to the next level. I would love to help you with that my website maintenance plan course is available right now and open for you to join. I’ve been fortunate to help hundreds of students all over the world build recurring income through a website hosting and maintenance plan. And I’d love to do the same for you. So join that today if interested. And again, as you’ll find out this episode day rates may just be the perfect thing that you can implement into your business very well may change your life like it did, Sarah without further ado, here she is. Let’s have some fun.
Sarah, welcome onto the podcast. It is such a pleasure to have you on.
Thank you, Josh. I am so excited to be here. I know it’s taken us a little while to get this scheduled. But happy to happy to be here.
Yeah, we have we went through some scheduling delays. But by golly, we got it. And we’re both parent-preneurs, we both have little ones. And we were joking right before we went live here that at some point, we’ll probably hear them in the background. But that’s the way it is. And I love it. I love working from home, I’m sure you do as well. And I’m really excited to dive into this topic of day rates with you. You are somebody who I don’t know if it’s fair to say you’ve pioneered this in this niche, this niche or this niche. But you are certainly somebody who is on the cusp of something really cool. And what’s interesting about this idea is being that I teach web designers, there’s a lot of web designers doing like websites in a day. But I have a feeling that’s a little bit different than day rate. So I’m really excited to dive into those differences and to see if this is something that’s worthwhile trying out for a lot of my audience. So I’ve got some questions up front that I want to ask you. But before we dive into that, Sarah, do you want to let my audience know, we’re first off where you’re based out of and when somebody asked you what you do, what do you tell them?
Okay, so I am based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. I am originally from New York. So I always kind of go back and forth. I’m a New Yorker at heart but I have been living in Charlotte for most of my life. About half of my life now. So loving it down here. And so for years would when somebody would ask me what I do, I would say I’m a brand and web designer, because that’s what I’ve been doing pretty much since 2009 or so. I started off in corporate and I eventually ended up found my way into freelance, and kind of tried a whole bunch of different things before finally landing on design back in 2009 2010, when my third son was born. But most recently, I actually am not doing I’m still doing some design work for some of my older clients, but I’m not currently taking new clients. And so when people ask me now I’m more along the lines of a coach and course creator. So I am teaching fellow designers, and any done for you service provider, really. So copywriters, designers, marketers, how to do day rates or VIP days.
That’s awesome. Well, I feel a kinship with you. Because it sounds like we have very similar trajectories and paths and life journeys. I started in 2009, as well with design and got into web and then same thing, I don’t really do as much design. Now I’m teaching and really loving, kind of sharing my decade of experience and hardships and helping people avoid those hardships now. So that’s really cool, Sarah now, I’m really excited to dive into the specifics. But I do think it’s really worthwhile talking about the pain points that caused you to consider this day, right these day rates and it was on a whim, is that right? Like what what were some of the things that led to it? And how did this start for you this day rate thing?
Yeah, so I’m sure a lot of your audience can probably relate as web designers. We when we start off? Well, for me, I was a self taught designer. So I had to kind of learn my way through design skills, and hone my skills to become confident in what I was able to create and deliver. And so when you’re kind of going through those early, though, that like learning phase, you tend to not charge enough for your services. So I see you laughing, you could relate. Yeah, so we don’t charge enough when we first started out, because we don’t believe in our ability to deliver a high quality result. So that was my case, I was, I felt like, I had to keep my prices low, because I wasn’t good enough to charge more. And so I got into this trap of not charging enough and kind of letting clients not walk all over me. But I didn’t have good boundaries. I didn’t have a good like, structure for my business, I was just kind of making it up as I was going along.
I you know, I had never been a business owner before. I had never been a designer before I came out of corporate and I was trying to figure out all this stuff as I went along. And so I wasn’t charging enough, there was a lot of scope creep, there was a lot of inconsistent timelines. So projects that should have, I quoted them to be a six week project would end up being six months, I had some projects that went on for over a year, they were supposed to be like, you know, to eight weeks or 10 weeks and ended up being a year and a half. So all of those things were happening. And the more those projects kept getting stretched out, the less money I felt like I was making, because when I should have gotten paid for like the, like the final payments on some of those projects, they were dragging out so long that I wasn’t getting paid. And so I would just keep taking on new clients to fill in all of the gaps where we had all of those delays. And so the next thing I knew I had eight or 10 clients in any given month, and I just felt like there was no structure around my schedule, and I couldn’t, I was working nights and weekends, I couldn’t go away on vacation without worrying about a client needing me or an emergency, you know, a website went down or whatever. And so it was just constant struggle of trying to stay on schedule, trying to make ends meet, pay the bills, and live that freedom lifestyle that we all set out for at the beginning.
Yeah, well, I’m sure everyone listening just had a bunch of you know, PTSD moments of these triggers that we all go through as web designers. So I know that I have a lot of solutions for those that I’ve talked about. But I never went through the day rate type of thing I was able to now those things did happen even at the tail end of my journey, but I was able to consolidate a lot of those by setting limits and spacing and staggering projects and honestly just getting better clients. You know what, once you attract better clients for the day rate, though, how did that come about? Because it sounds like a day rate can alleviate a lot of those problems. Did somebody asked you about it? Or did you just try? I’m trying to remember how exactly you went about it.
So I had a client who I had worked. I had done her branding and her website for her previously. And she came back to me with a with an email about six months after we launched her website, her email was kind of this I did this and I met think I messed this up, and can you take a look and see if you can fix this? And what would it cost for you to do this? And then also, could you tell me what it would cost to do this? And Oh, and by the way, I would also like this, and can you give me a quote on you doing it versus you showing me how to do like it was this whole list. And at the time, I had a bunch of clients I was already working with, I had a bunch of, you know, just projects, I was multitasking and juggling and trying to get through. And I didn’t have time to sit there and go through her entire list and itemize everything. And it was one of those things where I felt like I would be nickel and diming her for each of those little things that she wanted. And I had a policy where I would never do less than an hour of work. So even if your project only took me 10 minutes, I’m charging you for an hour, because I did get to that point, like I hadn’t made it that far and like boundaries and and not giving people 10 minutes of my time because I never knew how to charge for that. So the more I looked at her list, I was like, Okay, how am I gonna write all this? I don’t have time to write a proposal. And so I just like randomly emailed her back. And I was like, how about you just pay me for the day, and I’ll just get all of this stuff done. And I gave her a flat day rate. And she was like, perfect, let’s do it. And so we did it. got everything done in a day. And then I was able to like, wipe my hands clean and be done and move on. And it was like, I charged $500 for that day.
Yeah, every give us like the best $500 I had, it was so easy. I don’t think the work actually did take me a full day. But I just needed like a container of space to get it done.
I was wondering. So that was the first time So yeah, I was curious about and maybe it’s a good opportunity to ask this question. Now how you bill that out? Or how you like do you? Do you factor in what your hourly rate would be ideally, and then like, give a percentage off if they because it strikes me very similar as like a retainer of hours that I would often sell like, if a client had a bunch of those laundry list of items, I would just say, Well listen, you can do a four hour retainer or a six hour retainer. And if you do retainer, you get a discount off. And we can use these hours within a certain time period. It looks like the difference is do you are you actually doing this within like a 24 hour window? Is that kind of how the day rate differs from like a retainer of hours?
Yes, yes. So the differences for the day rate are that it gets done in one day. So the client is charging, you’re charging a premium, you’re not just doing your retainer, because your retainer is based on your hourly rate. And then you give them a discount for more hours. But with a day rate, you’re turning everything around in one day, you’re giving this client your undivided attention for that day. And so that right there is worth more than spreading out, you know, half hour here an hour here, that kind of thing. So that’s more valuable to the client. And the way I like to kind of the baseline way to figure out what your rate is, is I like to say, take the number of hours that you’re going to give the client during the day. So I just let’s just say seven hours. So you’re going to do a seven hour day rate. So you’re going to work from 8am until 4pm. And you’re going to take an hour off at lunchtime or a couple breaks throughout the day. But then you also want to factor in. So that’s seven hours. And then you want to factor in around two hours for pre intensive or pre day rate work. So I do a one hour kickoff call with my client where we go over everything, all of the pre work that they have to do leading up to the day. So let me just say now I don’t, I don’t just do punch lists. Now we do actual websites in a day. So there’s pre work, which is copy, photos, content, all of that stuff, the client is in charge of doing that before the day. And then we go over it together on the day or on the kickoff call. And then we have our seven hour intensive where we get the work done. And then I also now give a one hour post intensive follow up. So if they have changes or edits or anything like that we’ll do a couple days later in an hour.
So now we’re 10 hours, I’d like to just kind of roughly say okay, let’s just practice just wrapping around it up to 10 hours, and then what would your hourly rate be? So if your hourly rate was $50 an hour, and you’ve got a 10 hour block of time that you’re giving, that’s $500 but we’re not going to stop there and that’s where I made the mistake the first time I was just like, oh, I’ll just charge $500. But, um, now you want to either double it, or at least mark it up by 50% to account for the value like that convenience, and that it’s a premium offer that you’re giving now. So we always under, you know, we always underestimate, we always under charge us for our work. So I just say double that. Or if you can’t quite double it yet, then at least do a 50% increase. So that would bring you up to 750 for your first day.
That’s kind of one way to price it. And then the other way to price it would be to look at what you’re actually going to be able to deliver in a day. And how much would you charge for that, if you were delivering it over an extended period of time, it’s, I mean, he charged the same. So if you’re going to charge 2500, for a website, and you could only get half of that website done in a day, then charge 1250 for add a little bit of a premium, or, you know, so it’s just kind of you can play with the numbers there. And it’s really seeing the value that you’re delivering and what you’re used to charging.
Yeah, I was curious about value based pricing, for sure. Whether because, of course, you could probably since it’s a premium type of service, you could probably charge whatever you wanted, with some playing around and figuring out what the type of tasks are. But that makes a lot of sense. And I’ll say this, initially, this idea just sounded crazy and terrible to me, not not that I don’t respect what you’re doing. But I will be on as far as me knowing my business model and stuff, I just, I couldn’t imagine selling a day of ours. However, hearing you talking about this, and knowing what this is all about, I see the value and I understand the value of having like a big chunk of the day or one day to just get some stuff done. And have that be done, there is so much value in that rather than spacing these little items out over two or three weeks, which is what I often did. And even if you have a retainer of hours that can be done within you know, 14 days, you still end up generally putting those little tasks in between a bunch of other stuff.
So all that to say, for anyone who’s in probably my camp being like, I can’t imagine selling a whole day to somebody, I see the value from the web designer side. And for the client, let’s be honest, and I’m sure you’ve seen this Sarah, for a client to know like, okay, Sarah is gonna work on all my stuff next Wednesday, and it’s gonna be done. Or this is at least what is planned to be done. for them. It’s pretty cool. Because there’s a bit of a deadline, there’s some limitations and constraint. If they need to get something to you before then it’s on them. And for the client who’s busy, and they don’t want to worry about everything going on, it’s kind of nice to know, okay, they’re, they’re going to get this done this day. So I could see both sides as being really beneficial. Now, my next question was those deliverables. So you have this laundry list of items of that this, this email that this this, this client sent to you? What if you get going and you promise, and I’m just going to play devil’s advocate here, you promise I’m going to get these eight things done, you get four done, and then Your time’s up. What do you do then? Do you have to ask for more hours? Is that awkward? How do you kind of combat that? What does that look like?
So the the number one thing is you never promise anything. – Sarah
So the the number one thing is you never promised anything. You can’t promise because you can’t. Okay, so in a VIP day model or a day rate model, some industries can promise a deliverable or a set of deliverables. In design, you can’t do that. Because unless you want, unless you just want to design whatever you want to design and you want to make it look exactly how you want to do it. And you don’t care what your client thinks. But the client’s opinion has to come into play here. So what happens if you promised a five page website, and you get halfway through the day, and the client all of a sudden decides that they want to change up their colors, or they realize that they whatever, like they just don’t like the direction or they have a whole bunch of edits to the copy, then all of a sudden, you’re in this position where you promised a five page website. And now the client has all these changes they want. And so you’re backpedaling and backtracking and making changes, and then you get to the end of the day, and you’re not done. Because the client asked for a bunch of changes.
Another thing that could happen is like when I do my intensives, I require my clients to be virtually available to me all day through not on Zoom or anything, but we’re just back and forth on Voxer or Slack or messenger, where I’m sending them. Okay, here’s the homepage. Take a look. Let me know what you think. Here’s this take a look. Let me know what you think that kind of thing. And if they’re not there, and they’re not able to give me feedback, sometimes I can’t move forward until I get a yes or no from them. And so if they’re not there and I don’t get a response, then I’m stuck. Then I’m not making progress as fast as I want to be. So I never promised but I always say, This is typically what I can get done in a day I can typically do. And I always like, say, three to five pages so that they know, I never want to set their expectations super high. But I’ll say typically, I can do three to five pages in a day. But this is all dependent on how quickly we can work based on your feedback based on you being valuable and giving me you know, answers when I need them. And then I’ll say, and here are a few examples of websites that I’ve done in a day, they can see the proof, like it’s possible, and I’ve done it many, many, many times. But I’m not gonna guarantee it because some variables are out of my control.
And this is the big difference between fixed projects, which is primarily what I did versus any sort of hourly work is that I, while I generally advise my students get away from selling time for money, it is technically a little more, you have a little more cushion. And it’s a little more sustainable, from the point of like, if you sell a 1500 website, and it ends up taking triple the amount of time because of revisions and Content Collection, you’re still you’re just making less and less. Whereas if you sell ours, it’s kind of up to the client to get you stuff faster and to be quicker with revisions. Because if they drag on that stuff, it’s going to charge them more, it’s going to cost more. So where I could see this being beneficial is and if I were to do this, what I would probably do and maybe I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this is that initial day, sell the things in maybe if I don’t promise them at least use the verbiage of like, this is typically what I do for the things that I can control. Like maybe it’s the initial design of a five page website. And then maybe the next is it’s common to sell like two days, because maybe day two would be for revisions and their thoughts. And then if it goes over, they can buy another day, but it’s just gonna cost them an extra grand or whatever. Is that fair to say?
Yes, so a lot of my clients and a lot of my students clients, you know, sometimes we’ll just say, Okay, let’s start with a day. And let’s see how far we can go. But just know that you might need to add another half day or another full day, some projects, I’ll go into them knowing that they want like an eight to 10 page site, and they need branding, and they need, get out assets and all of that. So I’ll say it looks like everything that you need, this is going to be about three days at least. So I’ll say you know, the first day we’re going to focus on your branding, we’ll get your logos done, we’ll get your colors, your fonts will get all of that nailed down. And then we might have some time for a few, like graphic templates, or something like that. And then on day two, we’re going to get started on your website, we’ll probably get three or four pages done on the second day. And then on the third day, we’ll wrap everything up. And so I’d like to set those expectations on, you know, a sales call or discovery call with them. Just so they know like, Yes, I sell day rates, but not everything they need is only going to take a day.
That was one question I had for you was what’s the difference between a project or a list of items that would take about a day versus a whole new project and a big website that is going to be 30, 40 hours plus, I mean, there’s definitely those two. So I was curious as to whether this model would work in that case, because then it becomes more like a week rate or an ungodly monthly rate. That’s when you basically if you become a an employee for a company for a month, like I’m sure you want to, you know, don’t want to go that far. But at the same time, I could definitely see like multiple days coming into play. So I guess let me kind of put a question in your court here Sarah, is this model? Does it work for both? Or is it better for a more like ongoing type of work? Or do you feel like it works really well for a full website build that would typically be more like a fixed project.
So I will honestly say I don’t like the really, really big projects. And that was one of the things I use. And I don’t know if this was just I’m just scarred from those projects that dragged on for so long. But I would become so resentful of my clients by the end of the project because it’s just it would drag on and I would be so bored with that project that I wanted nothing to do with it ever again.
Before I had a four week window four weeks and I was I was zapped of like, you know, I would be really excited and gung ho at first start to get the gears turning content, whatever and then for whatever reason if it went past a month, I just was excited to get it off my plate more than likely.
Yeah, I can’t stand the long projects so it can work. I do have students who do take on those like I have one student she just took on a 10 day. She priced out 10 days worth of work. So she had it all mapped out. It’s from it was including branding, web design, and I think course or membership site design, and she’s doing it with a partner. So there’s two of them. And over the between the two of them, there’s a 10 day project, I wouldn’t want to do that. So the most I’ve ever done with a single client is five days. And those five days were not like back to back, it was she booked me, we did her branding, then she booked me for two more days, and we did her website, then she came back a couple months later and added a few things to her site. So most of my clients are not ongoing, and most of them are one and done. Most of them are one to three days total. If they need something like six months down the road, they’ll come back and book me for a half day. And those are the clients that I’m working with now are those old clients who just need a little things here, and then we’ll do a half day. But I have had discovery calls with clients who need that those big projects. And I just, I was just saying, you know, I’m not the right, this is, this isn’t the type of work that I do. And I’ll refer them to somebody who does.
And that’s where I feel like this type of model could very easily but very practically be implemented with more like ongoing work if somebody wants to try this out like for, for me, I would probably start with this for the ongoing work. Or for small projects, like if it’s a really big website, but a really good company that’s going to sign up for hosting and maintenance, I might do our typical fixed type of project, but then add this in as we go along. And I could I could definitely see that working out pretty well and the conjunction with the two but I understand I see why you wouldn’t want to take more than five days worth of day rates. Because that’s all week right there. However, I do want to reiterate the point. I know it seems like selling 810 12 hours, whatever would be so much of your time and your week. But if you can get stuff done, and it doesn’t linger on week after week, there really is so much mental space that can be freed up from that for both you and your client. So I definitely see the value.
I do have a question about recurring income because one thing I’m big on teaching a lot of my students is hosting and maintenance, and to not only land a client to build their website, but then to be able to support their site and to support them ongoing. I’m not sure if you intertwine this with any sort of hosting and maintenance if you are doing that. But can this work alongside recurring income? How does it work? Like if somebody is paying you 75 bucks a month? But then there’s these other options for like day rates? Is it just something that you might discount? What does that look like?
Yeah, I don’t personally do that type is my recurring income is more based on the courses that I was able to create with the free time that I was able to free up because of the day rate, so I get that recurring income that way. But I do have clients who are self hosting and maintenance. And what they do is, well, some of them just sell the host, I don’t really know when they fit in the actual work, I think a lot of definitely stay in maintenance is all automated the update software updates and things. But some of my clients who want to keep their clients on, some of my students who want to keep their clients on retainer will just designate one day a month to all of their retainer clients. So they’ll do an eight hour day that’s dedicated to 20 of their clients. So it’s going through however many websites they need to make updates. And they’ll just set aside that one day. And then all of those retainer or those recurring, that recurring income all kind of goes towards that one day. So you could do it that way. Like I said, I don’t personally do it, I have found really the day rate model is, you know, I work one or two days a week and a day rate. That’s all you can really do, because it does take a lot of energy, mental bandwidth, and any more than two days, and you’ll be completely tapped out, I think. But you know, it does free up your time three days a week to work on other projects for your own business, which can be template shops, you know, digital assets, that kind of thing, courses, memberships, all that kind of stuff.
Or work on the business processes, funnels, onboarding, all that stuff, I can definitely see that working out to where you could free yourself up a day to work on the business, which is really cool. And I do agree. I think when it comes to the recurring income for web designers, which I think most all of my listeners and students are doing, where I could I guess the question would be what’s the difference between just offering a block of retainer of hours for monthly clients versus this day rate? And I think it probably goes back to what we said in the beginning, you would just have more of dedicated time for this day rate. I guess what I would say is maybe there’s just a bit of a discount for monthly clients that you have, as opposed to if there’s a random person who wants to book you for a day, but then that might cost 1500 bucks, but maybe for your clients, it’s like 950 or something like that. That’s, that’s probably probably the strategy that I would take to implement that in with monthly stuff.
You might eventually outgrow your retainer clients. – Sarah
I have found a lot of my students who come into my courses with retainer clients have asked this question like, how do I transition? How do I go from this low price retainer client to day rates? They’re never going to go for they’re not used to paying me this much? And are they just going to do the calculations in their head? And, yes, there’s, there’s a, there’s a, you can’t you can’t explain the benefit of the day right model to those retainer clients and say, explain how much better it is to get everything done in one day. And that’s why it’s costing more and then maybe give them a little discount. But for me, personally, I got to a point where my retainer clients just weren’t hitting the the income level that my day rate clients. So I, I had one retainer client who was paying 750 a month for 10 hours, so $75 an hour, 750 a month. And then I got to a point where I was charging $3,000 for a day. And it just, I just couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t get him to move up to my $3,000 rate. So eventually, we just had to go separate ways. And I referred him to someone who could could help him. And that’s just, you might eventually outgrow your retainer clients.
Yeah, well, it definitely makes sense. If I mean, that could be true with any sort of pricing or business model where you realize there’s people who are paying me a lot more with this type of work than this type. So maybe I should transition or pivot or, or see if they’re down to upgrade. And there’s a there’s a rule that I’ve heard more recently that I found to be 100%. True, and that is that 10% of your clients are willing to pay you 10 times as much. So again, going back to the whole 80/20 role, where you know, 20% of your clients are really making up the majority of your income. If you could focus on them, and this is a good option for them, then by all means, I’d say go for it. And I will say I could see this working out to where if you just want to try it, like try one off, just try selling a day rate, maybe you eventually get to the point where you could sell for day rates, and just once a week, have a day a day rate kind of day, I think it’s a great way to kind of try it out and stagger it in there. So I definitely see the value of that.
I am curious about the kind of clients that are into this. Because if I were a client, I would probably be more interested in paying more for a fixed type of project. So if a web designer tells me for 4 grand, we’re going to get the website done, as long as we get everything done on time or you know, get the content and everything that we need you to do. This is what the cost will be by the by the end, you’ll have this website with the day rate as a client, I’d be a little more leery of kind of the vague deliverables, like we talked about earlier, although I think we hit you know, a good idea on how we can avoid that by, you know, promet, quote unquote, promising what what’s in your control, and then leaving the rest up to the client. But I would love to hear your thoughts on that. Sarah, what type of clients maybe it’s not a certain industry, maybe it’s more of a personality type of what type of clients are into these day rates.
Um, what I have found is clients who have more money than time are the best, you know, those are the clients that are out there willing to pay the higher prices and they just want it done. They, they’re the type of clients that are not going to nitpick everything you’re doing. They trust you as the expert. They know like they’ve seen your work, they’ve seen what you’ve been able to do. And so they’re the they’re the client is just like I love everything you’ve done, I know you’re going to do a great job. So let’s just let’s just do this and get it over with. I will also say that I am that client for other for other things. So I’ve hired day right copywriter, I’ve hired a day rate sales page designer, so even though I could have done it myself, I was in a time crunch. And I needed somebody to do it for me quickly. So I just hired another day writer to do that sales page for me, trusting her to just do it and get it done in a day. I was willing to pay that extra price not to have to feel like I was micromanaging a long term project. I also hired, I did a VIP day with someone who helped me with social media content planning. Got it all done, I got a whole year’s worth of content in one day. And for those of us at a level where we have a lot on our plate and we’re done with DIY buying our way through every little thing in our business. That’s what the to the day right is for it’s for those people who are kind of at that next level and have DIY’ed and they’re just done with all that and they just want someone who is professional and an expert to handle it.
Yeah, I see that. I definitely you know now that I am hiring more workout for myself, even with my brand here, like, I still do a lot of work on my own website, but I hire a lot of work out to to a few trusted colleagues and in subcontractors, the idea of just having them like booked for a day just to knock through a bunch of this stuff that we have sitting in basecamp right now, I’m interested in. So heads up, if any of my subs are listening to this, I might ask you about this because I’m interested in it would be nice to just get it done. You know, and have it have it kind of all done like that. So I definitely resonate with that. And I see good clients and more clients who are interested in bigger profits and more money than time. Beans are the you know, they value their time more than anything, I could definitely see this working. It’s kind of one reason I asked about that. Because there are those people who will be down with take something taking a year as long as it’s cheap. But we don’t want to work with those types of people very long at all, we want to want to get away from them. So
I will say like when I was charging $750 or even 1250 or 1500, because my rate went up a little at a time over three years. I’ve noticed a big difference. And the clients who paid me $3,000 per day versus the clients who paid me $1,000 per day. Those $1,000 clients were still trying to micromanage still try I still felt like a pixel pusher kinda like they were telling me what to do. Once I got to the $3,000 you know, rate and those clients were just like, yep, love it looks great. Awesome. Good. Yeah, keep going. And it was just so much easier with those higher paying clients.
Yeah, it’s so true. And I know like people who are starting out, you get a lot of questionable clients, and you get some tough personalities, it really, I hope this is some encouragement that if you keep going and you start attracting better and better clients, they really do seem to be the better clients that the people who are over value their time and want to work on the business and are willing to invest in it, they do typically become easier clients. And one thing I was thinking too, with this model, is because a lot of the clients that I worked with, I would give them a quote, like maybe they had a really big project. And it was like a $10,000 quote, and they were like, Well, you know, we were thinking more like five, that’s as much as we can do right now I could see the day rate being a good segue to like taking care of as much as you can, within that $5,000 day rate, maybe maybe it’s 1000 bucks a day. So you get a whole week, it’s the week with that. Maybe that is a good approach to kind of work with some of these clients who have a decent budget, but might need to do things in phases, like maybe phase one, you could get done with this five day day rate type of quote, and then when they’re ready, they can add on and do more. Is that something you’ve seen? Or is that a good strategy potentially to work this in?
Yeah, yeah, I’ve had, you know, I’ve had leads come to me who who thought they needed this bigger thing. And maybe they did really need a bigger project, maybe they needed that $10,000 project, but they didn’t need it all to start, they didn’t need it to like, get their website off the ground up and running. So I would say, you know, what it looks like here is we’ve got about three or four days worth of work to really get everything done. But what I would recommend we do is why not, let’s just start with a day, let’s focus on this, this and this, these are the priorities, these are the things that really need to absolutely happen. So let’s just focus on these. We’ll do one day, we’ll and we’ll get all this stuff done. And we’ll see if we can get any of these other things done. But then we can come back for phase two, and do another day or two here and there. And I’ve done that with a lot of clients where it’s just easier to just kind of start them off on a single day. And then once they see how much you’re able to get done in one day, it’s a no brainer for them to come back.
Gotcha. And I’ve seen the same thing with the different type of pricing models with either fixed or with just retainers and hourly, if it’s, if it’s a new project in 10,000 is. Too much, I will often say well look for 5000, we can do this much. This is phase one. And then we’ll add more in phase 2, 3, 6 months down the road. That worked out quite often in the same thing with ongoing clients. If we had if they had came to me with that laundry list of items, I’d say, Listen, why don’t we just do a four hour eight hour retainer. And again, it’s different than the day rates. But we would often do that within a certain time and then be able to add more. So it’s interesting to see how this could work. And what that. What about the value based pricing though, because as we all know, all tasks are not equal. doesn’t mean they’re not all valuable. They’re everything that you do in your business is super valuable, whether it’s cleaning your desktop, or whether it’s producing an email that sells $30,000 worth of something it it’s all it’s all valuable tasks, but there are some tasks that are high level versus low level. How do you differentiate those in a day right like if a client Okay, so I’m just gonna play web designer devil’s advocate here. Because I did go through this when I created this brand, I don’t know how much you know about my story, Sarah, but I was running my business. And I started Josh Hall co started doing tutorials. And you can probably imagine what types of offers I got inundated with when I started doing tutorials, it was to fix people’s websites, they’d want to hire me for like four hours to go in, fix all their little CSS issues and tech issues. And I did some of that. And I got into a very little subset of like misery clients, because they were diyers who destroyed their site, and you want to hire me, and some of them would pay, they pay 100 bucks an hour just for me to fix it. But I hated that. I hated doing that. So I had to be leery of that. So same thing here with web designers, I could see them attracting clients who just want to have them take care of like, I don’t know, setting up their email platform or taking care of little tech issues or fixing their email. Versus if you’re working with a client for like strategy, or design or brand. Those are completely different types of services. How do you go about it? Do you like put stipulations on what type of work you do within the day rate? Do you use value based pricing and charge more for more like strategy based stuff versus tech kind of stuff? What does that look like?
Yeah, I I like to say that the day rate is not hourly, it’s not hourly rates. And it’s not value based pricing, it’s neither one of those, it’s its own like little special category. And we’re not necessarily our rate isn’t based on the value of the that the client is going to receive as a result of our work. So let’s say you’re building a Shopify website, and this client has like made massive social media following and whatever e commerce shop they’re creating, is going to generate a lot of revenue. And so this could be a million dollar online shop. And so value based pricing says, to do your research and find out how much revenue the client is going to generate from that website, and then price based on that, whereas hourly is just charging for your time. But with a day rate, every client’s, you know, revenue is going to be different. You might work with a $500,000 income per year client, you might work with a million dollar client, you might work work with someone who’s just, you know, just hitting their first six figure, right. So I don’t like to do value based pricing, because then you have to change your rate for everybody. And the whole point of the day rate is to simplify your business and get it so structured, and so streamline, that you get 100% out of the admin work, and you don’t have to do any more proposals. So I say price, your rate based on your experience and the value that you can deliver. So for me, I’m just knowing like my years of experience, the quality of my work, and what is comparable to in the market. So I was selling five to $10,000 websites, when I switched to day rates, it was a five to $10,000, you know, all in for branding and web design. And so I priced my day rate, I felt like a 2500 day, right, like once I kind of got up there and my way, I felt like a 2000 to 2500 was very much in line with the quality of work that I was able to produce in one day. Two days was about a $5,000 quality output. So you’re really pricing based on your perceived value. So the value that the client is going to get. So with strategy versus emails, I say just pick your day, right, based on the highest level of whatever that delivery is. So a strategy day is more valuable than an email automation sequence. But tell the client, you know, this is my rate, my rate is 2500. And we can do this, this this or this, whatever, you know, we can do any of these things in a day. But this is my rate. And I’m not going to change my rate based on what you need.
Yeah, I like that. That’s great, Sara, I think it’s a good way to, to kind of lead towards simplicity. Because as a web designer, and I think most all entrepreneurs or business owners, we have a tendency to overcomplicate things. So I could see that being very complicated. And dear even maybe if it does work out on a couple of projects, it might do might be so much time investigating a company and doing r&d. And whereas if you just have your day rates that is much more simple. And I know that you are that I know the whole I mean the whole goal of this is to keep things simple, right? Is that like the underlying goal here?
Yeah, sim simplicity, freedom, like those are my two highest values like I don’t want to be doing I want my model to be as simple as possible. I mean, I was able to fire my virtual assistant when I started doing date rates, because I didn’t need her anymore. Because my business model was so simple. There were no more proposals, there was no none of that orangey. Like, it was just this is this is what it is. And if you want it, here’s a link to pay me and sign a contract and scheduling the date. And it was just done. And we were done. And so, yeah, we want to get out of all of that complicated admin backend work. And we also want more whitespace and freedom in our life. Because
Well, so yeah, I could see it. And I also can see practically how you could take this to six figures, because it would only take what let’s say the goal was $1,000 for a day rate. It would only take eight, eight and a half days or so every month to end up. Yeah, two days a week for that to end up being a six figure business. If you can get to 10,000. If you can get to 10 hours, 1000 bucks a month. That’s 120,000 right there. Like I could definitely see how practically, you could do this without working five days, six days, seven days a week? Because if you do get to that point where it’s 1000 bucks a day, it really does, it makes a lot of sense as far as things being more stable. And I could see where some of the recurring retainers don’t matter as much if you’re in that boat, like if you have recurring retainer that’s making a 15 grand a year, well, if you can just sell 15 hours, or 15 days, excuse me, at 1000 bucks a day. There you go, it makes up for that. So that makes sense. Makes a lot of sense.
Yeah, and what was I gonna say? Yeah, I mean, like that $1,000. The reality is, most people are going to be making more than $1,000 for a day. So I really found that sweet spot to be around $2,000 for the type of work that we’re doing. So $2,000, you know, one day a week is $8,000 a month right there. And so, oh, this is what I was gonna say your profit margins are so high because you don’t need you, you’re eliminating so much of that other stuff that you need to run your business, when you simplify and streamline it and you only have this one offer that everything neatly fits inside of you no longer will need like the VA, you might not need all of those project management tools and all of the things that you’re paying for, I think my profit margins are above 90% for a long time during this.
Well, and let’s be honest, coming from a web design background, you know how costly the the weeding out and proposal period can be. That’s definitely something where there was nothing worse for me than like really wanting a project and really going, you know, really hard in the proposal and spending a lot of time and the strategy only for them to move on to a different company or not work out which, again, I have my own tactics on that. And I still created a really healthy six figure business while doing that. But the reason I was able to do that with the key term there being healthy and balanced was because I kind of I could tell when a client wasn’t going to be a good fit, I had my own weed out processes that I show in detail in my web design business course, like, I have all that out there that I learned. But I could see the day rate, alleviating a lot of that because it is just a simple offer, here’s what it is, take it or leave it. And I know that’s probably harder to feel comfortable with early on in the journey. But you do get to a point where it’s like, here’s what it is. And as of course creator I feel you there, it’s like, I don’t need to try to sell my courses. Now. It’s out there, it’s what it is, if you feel like it’s gonna be a good fit, and you want me to be your guide in this area. Awesome. Let’s do it. If not, no worries. So I definitely love that approach.
I was kind of curious, not only with, cuz I was gonna say you could definitely do this with with new projects and everything. But I was trying to think of I mean, I really, we’ve really covered a lot of grounds. I was trying to think of any final questions, but I was just thinking we covered it with with, you know, new projects versus recurring and how to implement all that. Profit is a big one. I think you’re right, I think that would probably alleviate a lot of the tools and, and cover some things that you might not need anymore. If you’re if you’re doing a lot of the ongoing projects and stuff like that or communication with clients. Oh, that’s I was gonna say as far as like the offer, I’d imagine we have to be very clear about what we do, right? Because most clients when they hire a web designer, you do the website, I’m sure we’ve all been at this point where they say, okay, I’d love for you to do my social media, and we’ve got some pictures we want to get done and we’d like you to do our bit like maybe I don’t do any of that. I just need a website or I just do a couple of things. So do you recommend that we do this to have like a really clear set of services that are are used within those that hour or that day, excuse me is that kind of how that works? Yeah, offer it.
That’s one of the things that I have all of my day rate clients do is fill out like a priority matrix, where they can list out all the things that they want. – Sarah
I’m actually right in the middle of right now, creating a new discovery call sales training. And I was actually working on it earlier today. But it’s really about having a clear framework, all of the pieces of what you actually do kind of fitting into a framework like mine is kind of one of the Venn diagram. And so the top circle is vision. And then one circle is graphics, and one circle is identity. So, you know, we have the whole foundational branding the vision, how you want it to look how you want it to feel, then we have the identity of the brand. So we have your logo, your colors, your fonts, all of the pieces of the brand identity, and then we have the graphics and website kind of falls into that part. And so I can show my clients on that discovery call. While I usually verbally tell them, I don’t necessarily show them, but I can say these are the parts of the whole picture of the things that I can do. And everything kind of has to fit within that within that Venn diagram. So they I tried it, I’ve emailed it to them, so they can visually also see what I actually do. And yes, they’re, I mean, I’m one of those people where, yeah, I mean, I can set up your emails, and I, I can do this. And, you know, if you want to pay me for a day, and this is what you want me to focus on, then I will. And a really, that’s one of the things that I have all of my day rate clients do is fill out like a priority matrix, where they can list out all the things that they want. And like they’re, it’s like their wish list, and then I have them put it in priority order. So I know when I start the day, these are the most important things. And if we have time, at the end of the day, I can I can work on these.
Okay. And I guess that’s where it goes back to the whole like value based pricing being that you don’t need to charge a separate wait for setting up email versus building out a sales page. It’s they want to pay you your day rate to build a sales page and do their email. It doesn’t matter. It’s it’s its core. So that’s, that’s interesting. That’s so counterintuitive to the approach that I had for a long time when it came to value based pricing. So that’s great. That’s really interesting. Sarah, I have one more question for you. But I would love if you could just let everybody know if they’re interested in finding out more about you and the program that you offer. Where would you like people to go to check this out?
Yeah, they can just go right to my website. I have everything on there. It’s Sarah masci.com. I have links to, I have a free masterclass where people can learn more about my story and kind of how they can get started the day rates as well. So they can find out on my website, I also have an ebook, if they want to check that out. Some people like to read some people like to listen, I also have a private podcast where kind of the master classes in audio form so they can listen if they would rather just listen to it. So there’s lots of lots of things I can check out there.
Awesome. Well, of course, we’ll have that linked in the show notes for everyone to check out. I’m gonna ask you for a freebie for my audience. Sure, because you just mentioned it there how to get started. So somebody listened to this, they’re really curious, I’d love to try it out. But again, it goes back to the well, like, I don’t want to change up my whole business model, I don’t want to take all the time to create like a whole new sales page offering for this, what would you say would be the or what’s maybe the best tip for somebody just to try this out and get started with it.
Um, so if you’re, if you’re just starting out, you want to see if this is something that would work for you, I would recommend you take an existing client that you are working for, and you try to compress that work into one day, who can tell the client you’re doing it or you cannot tell the client you’re doing it. But I would, you know, the best way to do it is really to just do it on the back end with a client you already have and see how much you’re able to get done. And you could try it a four hour block of time, you could try six hour block of time, whatever really works for you. But test it out and just, you know, turn off all of your no multitasking, turn off your social media, turn off your email and just focus for a block of time and see how much you can get done. And the next time you get a lead who comes in and they just want a whole bunch of little things and you just want to like scream because you don’t want to create this itemized proposal for them. offer them a day right and see what they say.
That’s awesome. What great advice. Yeah, that’s my challenge for everyone that to try that there’s really no reason not to try it out. Even if I was just thinking like, if I were to do this, I would have probably just taken an existing client and done the hourly retainer, but just do it in a day like if somebody purchases six hours, just do it in the data to try that out. And I think this quick little story, it’s not a story. It’s just a situation I’ve talked about a couple times on the podcast, it’s really worthwhile to kind of solidify this idea. I will never Forget working like occasionally I would work on like a Saturday if I had it free or whatever. And I would get so much done in like three hours. Because in why it’s because nobody was emailing me. I wasn’t focused on anything else. Nobody was calling, I limited my distractions. And that dawned on me that, wow, I don’t have to keep my email open. I don’t have to keep my phone on. I don’t have to be everyone’s beck and call, I can turn all my notifications off, and I can get this done. I think that is such an important point with day rates, because it is amazing how much you can get done in a in a deep work segment, right?
Yep. Exactly. Yeah. And that’s, that’s another reason why I get up extra early. Now I wake up before the rest of my house, because I know, between the hours of five and 8am, I can get more done in those three hours. And I can get done the whole day with my kids and everybody’s home. Now I have four kids. And so it’s crazy here all day, and I just get up a few hours early. I can get everything done. It’s wonderful. Yeah.
That’s awesome. Well, Sarah, this has been so great. Honestly, this has been really enlightening. And I feel challenged to try this out in what ways I can with my business model now. And I hope everyone listening definitely takes that advice and tries it out just tries it out with an existing client and then potentially makes us an offer because I definitely see the value. And again, I’ll link to your website so everyone can check that out, get to know you more and and check out some of your resources because I think this is gonna do a lot of good and, and I’m really excited to to see how this continues and to kind of see how your brand evolves with this. So yeah, I’m excited, Sarah, this has been great. Thanks so much for coming on.
Thank you, Josh.
Talk soon. See ya.
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