How Much Should You Charge For An Online Lesson?

price cash

Today, I want to talk about every entrepreneur’s favourite topic: Pricing! There are so many ways and angles from which we can look at pricing.

In my Branding course full of smart entrepreneurs, we encountered pricing as a hot topic straight away. Online teachers have a hard time getting the rates right. On the one hand, there’s a crowded market full of cheaper alternatives. On the other hand, there’s a huge demand from students. Today I want to address the "my clients can't pay me more" objection that lots of my course participants struggled with.

Set Fair Rates That Work For You And Your Clients

If you have ever had to set the price for a product or service you provide, you are going to recognise the feeling of fear that this generates. Money just has this way of drawing out all the judgement and ideas that you have about yourself, what you're entitled to and what you're worth. The lesson I am beginning to learn here, after years of self-employment, is that no one cares about my price as much as I do.

Key Question 1: How Do You Know If You're Good?

You have to believe that you are pretty good at providing your service in order to charge a fair price for it. So my first advice to many of my coaching clients is to ignore their rate and consider if they think they're providing a good service.

For example, an online teacher will often provide the following services in addition to the hour of contact time charged:

  • Homework Assignments and Revision
  • Book Recommendations
  • Goal Setting and Coaching Assistance by Email
  • Creating Bespoke Worksheets and Materials
  • Researching Exams and Education Standards around the Globe

If each of these services was charged separately, they would amount to a lot more than an online teacher's typical hourly rate. So my advice is to consider all that you provide: your "Teach Plus".

The second step is to look for external, fact-based evidence of your high standards. Qualifications, teaching awards, blog comments, testimonials and years of experience are not just in your head: They truly add value to your service.

Key Question 2: Who Are You Targeting?

Even when all of the above processes are worked through (and in the Savvy Brand process, we approach this in a lot of depth), I often find that the real obstacle to charging fair rates is that my clients tell me "no one can afford a rate higher than this." This prompts me to ask: If someone cannot afford a rate that is fair to you, how can they be your ideal client?

At first sight, such a thought may feel uncharitable. But then, remember that you are not actually running a charity. Being able to continue running a tiny one-person business is a situation in which you must make money. The same clients that struggle to afford a service you provide will often happily spend equal amounts on luxury goods such as a smartphone or holiday home. If you catch yourself feeling sorry for a client who cannot afford you, consider their situation closely. Will they value your service enough to invest? If not, you may be better off limiting what you can provide to them and referring them to a real charity.

Remember that there is such a thing as charging too little. * mind boggles *

Key Question 3: What Is The Charge To You?

In this exercise, you must be ruthless and take the time to conduct a realistic analysis of all your expenses. How much is the hourly rate you would like to earn? How many hours do you get paid for? And how can you make a profit?

Profit is not a bad word for a home-based freelancer. Your profits are what allows you to continue to grow and develop as a service provider, to attend conferences, stay relevant and move with the times.

There are many good calculators available online to help you determine your hourly freelance rates. Here is a good guide from Creative Boom for more detailed information.

Key Question 4: How Will You Tell Them?

Once you have set up all of the above, you're likely to face that horrible moment of truth. You list your prices on your website. They don't look right to you, you figure reducing by 10% can't hurt. Or a potential customer sends you an email asking how much it will cost to take 5 lessons, and you instantly discount your fair rate. Because it's uncomfortable to tell them, right? Because they can get cheaper elsewhere.

Here's how I summed up my thoughts about the $5/hour teaching phenomenon for my language learning friends: 

Self-employed language teachers will price themselves as low as they can because they really love working with you. But when they are taking on 50 students a week because the price per lesson is very low, they become mediocre teachers. If you are able to approach the exchange with a mindset that considers both payment and benefits, you will not be ripped off.

You can read the full article on the Fluent blog.

So the next time you feel awkward about posting your rate, why not just double it for one day and see how that feels? After all, the way to make a $800 watch look cheap is to put it next to a $1700 watch.

I'd love to hear from you about how you feel and how you price. Come and share your thoughts on Facebook or comment here if you have ever felt the need to explain why you're so "expensive" or "cheap".