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The Psychological Elements You Need to Earn More Money (Without Hustling Yourself Silly)

Yesterday, I did a little research on pricing.

Premium pricing, to be exact, since that’s where my fascination is these days.

And I saw a fellow copywriter charging $4,000 if you wanted to “rent” her for an entire day.

FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR ONE DAY, PEOPLE.

Like, the amount that loads and loads of Americans would be thrilled shitless with for a monthly salary.

It’s $500 for one hour. ONE HOUR. That’s only two Pomodoros and you’ve got half a thousand in your bank account. Insanity.

And just to make the situation even more ridiculous, she was sold out of that offer.

Of course she was.

Granted, that was the highest published price I found in all of my research. But at that point, why not just go ahead and charge $5,000 or $6,000 for the day?

I mean, you’re already at such a point of sheer ridiculon that you might as well just milk it for all it’s worth.

It’s Time to Rethink Your Assumptions on How the Human Brain Judges Value

But you know what?

As crazy as that pricing is, I’m 100% sure it’s not just a fluke she throws up on her website for shits and giggles.

That woman gets booked at that price point.

And the reason she gets booked for it is not because her clients are a bunch of idiots who don’t have time to research market value.

It’s because she’s created such a high perceived value around her services to demand that kind of pricing.

Her messaging isn’t just the standard meh stuff you expect on a copywriter’s website.

She doesn’t center her messaging around how she’s got 15 years of experience as a professional writer and how she always meets deadlines.

Because ultimately, for her level of clientele, she knows those things are secondary so she doesn’t even bother focusing on them.

She focuses on other things.

But she’s not giving them a sales pitch on her website, either.

Confused?

How can you get someone to pay that much without a f*ing amazing sales pitch?!?!

I feel you.

If we can’t imagine ourselves spending that much for one day of copywriting, our brain automatically assumes it’s witchcraft in the form of scammy salesmanship.

But it’s not.

This lady knows exactly what she’s doing, and she’s not ripping her clients off in the slightest.

The people who book her and pay $4,000 to rent her for a day are thrilled to do it.

She’s talented, yes. But I’ll bet you she’s probably not that much more talented than any other reasonably talented copywriter out there.

And yet, she’s probably charging at least 4x to 8x their fees… and getting paid for it.

(I mean, it’s copywriting, after all. Most of the time all you have to do is follow scientifically proven formulas, and you’re making “magic” happen.)

She’s reverse-engineered her entire on-site experience, and she’s made no mistakes.

She’s learned all of this lovely brain science we love to study so much here on this blog, and she’s applied it meticulously.

And I can tell you that while yes, she’s probably got things like testimonials, case study data, and her past corporate experience listed out, those aren’t the things driving that price point.

Those things are just there to tell the haters to buzz off.

She’s not following the 1+1=2 formula for throwing up a business website and providing social proof to her potential clients.

She’s gotten a little ballsy, and man, has it ever paid off.

But “being ballsy” doesn’t just mean throwing the f-word around occasionally in your blog posts. Anyone can do that.

Being ballsy is still a science, and in this post, I’m going to walk you through those ballsy tactics so you can start implementing them on your own site and raising your list prices.

You might not want to go from $50 to $500 per hour in one go, but you might be able to go from $50 to $75 per hour. Or even double it from $50 to $100.

And in the world of your personal finances, that’d make a huge fucking difference to suddenly have 50% or 100% more income, wouldn’t it?

So let’s get started.

Side Note: Clearing Up Confusion on Being ‘Ballsy’

Let me just say that ballsy does not equal dropping the f-bomb all over the place.

I do it, but if you ever became close friends with me in real life, you’d see why.

So your “ballsy” might not involve a single curse word, and that’s fine. (We’ll get into more aspects of this “ballsiness” in the following sections and you’ll see that there’s no cussing or crassness required.)

But we look up to ballsy people.

I wrote an entire post on this subject, but basically, we’ve got this core desire to avoid rejection and to find acceptance. So when someone starts saying the things we’re already thinking—and especially when they say them unapologetically—we LOVE them.

By listening to or reading them speak up, we do so vicariously, so we fulfill our need to speak up without risking our own personal rejection.

And, since we buy the things that make us feel good about who we are, we can’t wait to pay these people for their value the instant we can afford it.

I don’t buy from generic sales pages because not only do they not dig deep into results, they also don’t make me feel good about myself.

I buy from ballsy people because it reinforces who I think I am as a ballsy person. And yes, I did it even before I started being so brash within my own brand. (Believe it or not, there were those days. I’m so glad they’re over.)

So, let’s dive into those ballsy tactics, shall we?

Publish Your Prices

Your prices are a statement.

They say who you serve and who you don’t.

And while in theory low and affordable prices would be there to serve everyone, in practice it’s just not true.

You don’t see billionaires going into Walmart to buy their next purse, just like you don’t see them buying a six pack of PBR instead of a local craft beer for the sake of saving a few dollars.

The more money you have, the more taste, quality, and experience matter. (And the more perceived taste, quality, and experience matter.)

Each potential price point is a different potential experience. And when we’re shopping—especially when we’re shopping for a service—we’re looking for the experience that’s going to make us feel good and deliver our results. (And no, unless we’re bootstrapping, we’re not concerned about what else that $50 extra could go to buy instead.)

When you publish your prices, you set the bar for the experience of working with you.

You include some clients and exclude others. You say who you serve and who you don’t.

So when you publish high, premium prices, you say that your experience is top of the line and premium without actually having to write those words out on your website.

Because, really. We all know that’s something only people who are desperate for business do. (Source)
Because, really. We all know that’s something only people who are desperate for business do. (Source)

And with those kinds of prices, simply interacting with you becomes a joy and a pleasure.

Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to stop associating price with quality.

When we’re interacting with something “expensive” and “high quality” and “premium,” more activity goes down in the pleasure centers of our brain. It just does and we can’t stop it.

So much so that when people taste the same exact bottle of wine with a different price tag on it, they think it’s soooo much better with a higher price tag, even though there’s literally not an atom of difference.

And, let’s be honest.

Even though we all know wine rating has proven itself to be complete and utter bullshit, we all still feel soooo special and fancy when we’re having a nice bottle of wine, don’t we?

The Troving Group spelled it out with a really cool example:

You are buying a diamond wedding ring. You are looking at 3 options. Each is graded the same for cut, color, clarity, and carat, so their professional valuation says they are equal. One is $1,000, the next, $1,500, and the last, $2,000. Which do you buy? Unless you really cannot afford it, you buy the $2,000 diamond. Why? Because the price is telling you what you cannot ascertain otherwise: that the $2,000 diamond is better than the $1,000 diamond and you want the best for the one you love. Behavior experiments back this up. What’s interesting is that if you are like most people, you will be happier with your purchase if you spend the extra money.

So if you want to charge premium prices, you need to publish those prices on your website. (And make them easy to find.)

And yes, people will actually be happier to pay those higher prices. With them, they’ll know that you’re the best and because of who they are (i.e. wealthy enough to afford you), they get access to you. Which is a HUGE ego boost for them.

But… ALWAYS Display Your ‘Product’ First

Just because your prices are published and easy to find doesn’t mean you’re plastering them on your homepage and at the end of every blog post.

In a study by Harvard Business School, researchers wanted to know if seeing the price first or the product first made any difference on purchase decision or the perception of worth.

And they uncovered that it did matter whether or not someone saw the price or the product first.

When the price came first, the decision-making process was less about the product itself and more about finding ways to justify that price.

Which is why being too forward with your pricing can be a little dangerous.

“When the product came first,” said Uma Karmarkar, “the decision question seemed to be one of ‘Do I like it?’ and when the price came first, the question seemed to be ‘Is it worth it?’”

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a powerful one, don’t you think?

She also said that for everyday items you know you need, it doesn’t really matter if the price or the product come first.

But since we’re dealing with our professional services (read: things that are decidedly not everyday needs), it’s best to showcase our ‘product’ first.

Like that $4k/day lady.

Her prices are easy enough to find, but you have to click around a bit to find them. And in the process of doing so, you “see” her product… which is her writing talent and wit… all over her website. And when this happens, you start to realize that you love it before you know the price.

Avoid Cognitive Dissonance

This is kind of a big deal.

And a bigger deal than most of us realize, I think. (Even me.)

According to Wikipedia, cognitive dissonance is this: the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

But when we’re professional know-it-alls with in-demand brains, it’s easy to let that go to our heads.

People want to learn from us, so we teach them.

And since we’re on our own website and no one’s there to keep us in check, it can be really easy to slip into the teacher-turned-preacher mode and really turn people off.

Because even though you might be right, if all you do is tell people how they’re doing things wrong and need to be more like you, it’s going to be a turn off.

And when you turn someone off, they don’t like you.

And they sure as hell won’t want to drop lots of money on your services.

To be clear: I’m not talking about being a fake Susie Cream Cheese and plastering on a fake smile to mask your voice and your expertise to keep everyone happy.

Because that shit’s not going to be beneficial (or desirable) to anyone.

What I’m talking about is not overtly insulting people. Which, really, should be easy enough.

If you know things are typically done one way by the vast majority of your target audience… even though that way isn’t effective or smart at all… don’t insult them for it.

And don’t hurl insults at the well-meaning people who taught them those things.

Insults do nothing but build walls… walls between your prospects’ wallets and your bank account.

Insults, especially when aimed at how someone operates, create cognitive dissonance against you.

Let me explain.

If someone’s been happily doing something in a way they feel works well enough for them and you tell them that particular method is idiotic, it creates cognitive dissonance in their minds.

And when cognitive dissonance exists, it drives us crazy until we resolve it.

So that person either has to attack their own ego and agree that they’ve been super idiotic this entire time, or they have to have to write you off as an ignorant prick.

And because our very nature is to be self-preserving human beings, our own egos are the last thing we want to attack.

So we write of the source of that cognitive dissonance and probably never read or listen to anything from them again.

So don’t create cognitive dissonance. Play nice with others.

“We naturally gravitate towards things that we agree with or that reinforce our existing beliefs, and avoid those that oppose any of our beliefs.”Carolyn Gregorie, Huffington Post

Reverse-Engineer Client-Perceived Value

One thing I had to earn very, very quickly when I started raising my income to the five-figure per month mark was that my clients don’t value the same things in the same way I do.

Yes, we both really value the end result of a higher-converting website and online funnel.

But I couldn’t get past seeing the time and difficulty involved from my end and feeling like I should base my prices on that.

In other words, if it wasn’t mind-numbingly difficult, I didn’t deserve thousands of dollars for it.

But if I could promise you a website that converts at 50% no matter where your traffic comes from, you’re not really going to care how much time it takes or how difficult it is for me to do.

All you care about is the end result: that your website converts at 50% and you make mad cash because of it.

You’d be none the wiser if it took me five hours or fifty.

As long as there was a good ROI for the price I charged, you probably wouldn’t even think twice about it.

So when you write out the blurbs (or full-on sales pages) that describe your services, do not focus on the work that’s involved from your side.

In fact, unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t even mention the work you do at all.

Because remember, trying to justify your price with the amount of work you do is either not going to work in your favor at all if it’s a higher hourly rate than your prospect earns himself, or it’s just going to be a waste of space that readers will get lost in.

Instead, focus solely on the results the people buying from you care about. (Hint: It’s what they get once your entire process is said and done, not how many days, hours, or dollars it will take to get there.)

This is also why it’s a great idea to only charge project rates or deliverable-based retainer fees and NOT get involved in hourly rates or hours-based packages.

Package ‘Deals’ = No Brainers

Even though premium pricing isn’t about cutting bargains and slashing your rates in a desperate attempt to book work, grouping your a la carte offerings into packages at a “discounted” rate is one of the best ways to upsell your work.

Notice I put “discounted” in “quotes.”

That’s because it’s really important to not rip yourself off with these discounts.

So if you need to mark up your a la carte pricing to make your package “deals” worth the time they take for you, do it.

There’s nothing wrong with it—your prices are your prices and people will happily pay them as long as you’re delivering value.

But if someone wanted to hire you to write a sales page and a homepage, but then they see they can purchase a low-level package of a sales page, a home page, and an about page for only 30% more than the cost of the two pages ordered a la carte, I can guarantee you they’ll be buying the package.

Plus, they’ll be pleasantly surprised at the great deal they got. As long as the experience working with you doesn’t suck, they’ll be totally thrilled that you offered this package deal for them, even though it meant they bought a little more from you than they initially planned.

That, and you’re earning more too. Which is always an awesome thing.

How much you discount your packages is up to you, but I wouldn’t suggest any major 70% off slashes.

Sticking with something like 10% to 15% will really start to add up to significant savings after grouping together three or more premium priced items, and it’ll still feel like an awesome, no-brainer deal to your potential customers.

See how the Mini Power Trip offers a small savings, but it’s still $291? I went really big on the Mega Power Trip’s savings because I knew how much time it would take me and that I could still be crazy profitable at that price point. (And that 40% savings—$1,998—is the definition of a no-brainer.)
See how the Mini Power Trip offers a small savings, but it’s still $291? I went really big on the Mega Power Trip’s savings because I knew how much time it would take me and that I could still be crazy profitable at that price point. (And that 40% savings—$1,998—is the definition of a no-brainer.)

Start Implementing Some of This ASAP – Because Earning at the Market Rate Sucks

If I can be blunt with you: getting paid “market rates” as a freelance service professional sucks.

Yes, you technically make enough money to support yourself, but the hustle never stops.

Even when you’re taking “time off” to visit your sick grandma, you’re sneaking onto your computer every chance you get to get through your mountain of emails or catch up on something so you’ll only feel slightly overwhelmed next week.

Getting paid premium rates though? That doesn’t suck.

That’s awesome.

You can take on less clients, which means you work less, you’re hustling less in your marketing game, you’re not worried about an emergency expense, and instead of hacking away on your computer while visiting grandma’s house, you can sit and watch HGTV with her and her cough drops.

Plus, you know, all those things rich online business people like to talk about like taking vacations, taking afternoons off without guilt, and affording to live wherever the heck you want.

So the sooner you start implementing these copywriting and psychological tactics on your website, the sooner you’ll build up your premium image, feel confident charging premium prices, and start getting booked at those prices.

I mean really, what is there to lose?

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