"I Can Do It Cheaper Myself"


So...you're chatting away to someone and the conversation is flowing beautifully. They love your business, they are talking about how they need what you sell when, in the next breath, they ask you your prices.

And the world stops, just for a second.

In that second your brain goes into mega-overdrive mode. In the space of that second the following questions and statements flash through your head, one after another:

"OMG what do I say?"

"She's going to be shocked when I tell her how much it is"

"She's going to think I'm too expensive"

"This is going to be awful, what if she pulls a face or laughs"

"What if she says NO?"

"What if she says she can do it cheaper herself like that woman did the other day - that really hurt"

"I knew I was too expensive"

"What was I thinking?"

"What can I say? What can I say? Ooh I know I'll just tell her a really low price and she'll say yes"

"OK, that's the plan - don't tell her the real price"

"OK great"

And what comes out of your mouth is something like this:

"Well, it's usually THIS much but I can do you a 20% discount and as it's sunny I'll knock another 10% off!" You say, grinning manically.

And the reply?

"HOW MUCH? I can do it cheaper myself"


How very dare they?


And I see this happen ALL THE TIME! And the thing is, it just feeds our belief that we're too expensive. We let one or two bad fit people dictate our prices and it mentally scars us for years.

We're already lacking in confidence because being in business is scary, we have to sell ourselves and our products and our confidence regularly takes a battering so when it comes to pricing we just WIMP OUT!

I hear people who create AMAZING things say things like...

"I can't charge very much - people won't pay it"

"I already had the materials in the house"

"It's 'just' me making them"

"I'm not a big company, I don't need to charge much"

"I just work from home"

"I enjoy making them"

Are you guilty of saying ANY of these, by any chance? Go on, you can tell me!

Let Me Tell You The Worst Thing

No matter how cheap you make your products or services, and no matter how many discounts you apply, for SOME people (in other words the WRONG people) YOU WILL STILL BE TOO EXPENSIVE.

Some people will never appreciate the value of what you sell. They won't appreciate how much work and time and energy went into it. They won't appreciate what it can do for them. 

They just want cheap.

And that's fine.

You just have to remember they are not the right customers for you and you MUST NOT let them shape your business.

[Tweet "If you base your pricing on the opinion of bargain hunters, you will end up with a bankrupt business."]

Leave that to the bargain basement stores!

They buy millions of products in bulk and make a couple of pence on each one so they can afford to charge peanuts and for some people that's perfect. Heck, even I shop there for some things (like dog poop bags!) and I bet you do too? Sometimes the bargain basement £1 or $1 store is just what you need some days.

Your job is not to try to compete and not to say YES to people who want you to compete with the bargain stores. Let them go.

You Need To Find Your Best Buyers

Let's see what that looks like.

If you crochet baby clothes, you don't want to market to people who want cheap baby clothes. Even though YOU can knock out a baby jacket in a couple of hours does not make them cheap. Let me put this in perspective for you.

If you can crochet a beautiful, handmade baby jacket in a couple of hours, that is an amazing skill. I can't do it. I might just manage to crochet something or other if you give me  a few days but I can't do all that fancy bobbly stuff and if I have to go round a corner, it's not pretty.

If you can crochet a beautiful, handmade baby jacket in a couple of hours, you had to use wool, and a crochet hook. You have to use buttons and a needle. You have to crochet it, press it, sew it up beautifully.

You had to GIVE UP TWO HOURS OF YOUR TIME that you'll never get back. It doesn't matter that you enjoyed it and that you would have done it anyway, given the choice - that TIME and ENERGY and WOOL and CROCHET HOOK and NEEDLE are worth something. That baby jacket has value.

Now, the WRONG people won't understand that and they won't see it or appreciate it. They will see a baby jacket. They can buy a baby jacket in a discount store for cheap. They will say 'How much? I can make it cheaper myself' (My advice? LET THEM TRY!! But say gracefully 'oh lovely, well yes if you can crochet you could definitely do it yourself' *while biting tongue*)

The RIGHT people will see a BEAUTIFUL, HANDMADE baby jacket. They will see the and appreciate your skill and the complexity of your work. They will 'ooh' and 'aaah' over the beautiful stitches. They will say things like 'oh I wish I could crochet something like this'. They will appreciate the work that has gone into it. They will see it as an heirloom piece - something expensive that they can treat their baby with and that can be handed down.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

You can't create a beautiful piece of work like that and charge £10 or $10 because you're competing with mass produced stuff on the high street. After your wool costs and your time, you're not making any profit. That's no way to run a business!

You need to price up your products and services PROPERLY - like a business owner.

You need to price them for the people who VALUE what you sell. Who appreciate that you have skills and knowledge they don't have and that you're providing something they can't do or make themselves.

You need to easily cover your costs - ALL your costs, including your time (even if you really enjoy what you do).

You need to work at a great hourly rate, so if it takes you 2 hours or 10 hours to create something then charge for it. Don't end up working for peanuts just because it's your own business.


Often, when I teach this, I hear ladies say 'but it took me 10 hours, I can't possibly charge $10 an hour, that's $100 just in time'. And I say 'YES!'

'But Claire, nobody will pay that!' they say.

And sometimes they are right, which is why I say you have 2 choices.

1 - Price it up properly and find people who will pay you for the 10 hours of work that went into it

2 - Spend less time on it

Number 2 often makes people take a sharp intake of breath but I know you - you're a perfectionist and you'll spend HOURS tinkering and tweaking so YOU think it's perfect. I have news for you. Your customers don't care.

You could spend half the time on it and it would be MORE than good enough. Perfection is relative - I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between something you'd spent 5 hours on and something where you'd spent an extra 3-5 hours tweaking. I probably wouldn't care. 

So What Are You Going To Say Next Time Someone Asks You Your Price?

I know every business is different and it depends on whether you're selling your time or selling something you've bought or made but the principle is the same.

Don't price your products or services based on the opinions of bargain hunters

Price your products or services based on what the RIGHT people will pay. Base your prices on what it COSTS you in time and materials and then add some.

And then be confident in announcing your prices! When somebody asks you, stop that monkey chatter in your brain before it starts and just say 'it's THIS! I know, it's great isn't it?' 

Either they are going to agree and pay it (sometimes with a bit of squirming but that's their 'stuff' not yours), if they are the right person or they will pull a face and say something like 'I can do it cheaper myself'. Once you've pulled that knife out of your heart, you can remind yourself that they ARE not and will never be the right customer for you.

You're definitely worth it!

Have YOU ever priced like this? What's the WORST thing someone has said to you when you told them your prices? Come on, share the audacity - HOW VERY DARE THEY?!



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I find people who haggle on price often nit pick later . It's a sign of resentment about paying for something they can't do. They begrudge you the business and turn into hassle later. They also fail to value their time saying can do self cheaper
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Diane Morris

I know there have been times I have thought, "I can make that myself............", but I sincerely hope I haven't said it out loud or even showed it by my body language. The fact of the matter is that when I get home, I don't. So, what does that comment really say? It simply says that the item isn't really what the customer wants, AND that that customer is terribly impolite and improper. Some people's comments should simply be ignored. Unfortunately, that doesn't totally erase the pain.
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Barbara McIntyre

I was at a craft show recently and a sign-maker had a sign set up just for customers to read. It said, "Of course you can make these too. But will you? Buy it here and save yourself the hassle!" Brilliant!
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Claire Mitchell

I love that!! What a great way to approach it! :)
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Frances Bryant

This is such a good post and it rings so so true.
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Tracey Claes

Its not only about valuing your product its about valuing yourself. If they want YOU they will pay.
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I'm a piano teacher. I drive to people's homes to teach, I have a degree in piano performance, I 'm a published composer, and I spend hours outside of the lesson time researching new techniques and purchasing expensive tools to help me be a better teacher. I even blog about teaching music. I'm in the process of raising my prices to better reflect all of these things, and my own father (who yes, is a bargain hunter) told me he's concerned I will lose all of my students because he would never pay me that much. I know he was coming from a place of concern, but still it stung.
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THANK YOU!!! I tell my friend this ALL THE TIME!!! So I've sent it to her!! @ThePenBuddy Mind you, I could probably do with listening to it myself too! xx @MelimoosDance&Arts
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Good, fast, cheap>> Pick any two>>
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I think what some customers (and a lot of us) fail to realise is how long it took us to get that good at something - it can take years of practice (and a lot of failures!) to get to the stage when you feel ready to start selling. Thank you for this post, it's made me appreciate that I have a something that I'm good at and if someone wants me to make them something they will have to pay for it.
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I look at what people will spend money on £3.00 for a cup of coffee. Three pounds! I can buy a jar and a pot of cream for 50 coffees for that. £30 for 30 minutes for a "personal fitness trainer" at the gym £30,000 for a car. Yes, they can afford to pay me £££ for hand-made stuff. Find the right customer, as the blog says.
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