Friday, August 1, 2014

Pricing and Payments: Packages vs. A la Carte

Here's another one from the Resume Writers' Digest mailbag!

Question from Alison:
I just recently listened to your presentation on Ask Better Questions and found it to be most informative — especially to a newbie such as myself just starting the process of develpment of my resume business.  

I would like your feedback on just how you went about structuring your fee schedule.  

What do clients seem to be drawn to: a fee set for each step of the process or an all inclusive package and most importantly which form provides you the best revenue source?

And finally, in what methods do you accept payment? And at what point during the crafting process is payment expected?

Here's my response!

Hi, Alison!

All great questions!

I collect a lot of data from colleagues to get a "big picture" about the industry, and I'll direct you to some of those resources on my blog that address your specific questions:

I had a link to this worksheet for Determining Your Resume Writing Rates in one of the blog posts, but I wanted to draw your attention to it specifically:

If you want to see the survey data and get a profile of an "average" resume writer (including pricing info), sign up here:

As for me, here's how I handle pricing:

I ask the client a series of initial questions — including whether they're updating an existing resume or starting from scratch, how long ago their existing resume was updated (if applicable), what their job target is, how soon they need the resume, how they plan to use the resume, etc. I also ask for their email address and tell them I'll send them information about my services, samples (sometimes!), and a custom quote.

Based on the information they gave me, I quote them an individual project price (usually as a range — i.e., $349-$399, plus Omaha/Nebraska sales tax if it's a local client) for a resume and cover letter. I also look at their LinkedIn profile (if they have one) and provide an additional quote for LinkedIn profile development (which includes my 8-day "Leveraging LinkedIn For Your Job Search" program). 

I base my pricing on a $55/hour rate, but I don't include that information in the quote — instead, I might calculate that I'll spend 1.5 hours on information gathering, 4 hours on writing/draft development, and 1 hour on project finalization. That would be 6.5 hours @ $55/hour or $357.50. So my $349-$399 quote covers me if it takes as long as I expect ... and a little bit of wiggle room if it takes longer.

Because I've been in business writing resumes for almost 20 years, I have a pretty good idea of how long it will take me to write that client's resume, based on the existing information I have from them, what I think I'll need, what they already have (existing resume vs. starting from scratch) and their job target.

I collect a $100 deposit up front (via check or PayPal) and the balance is due when I deliver the resume draft. Some resume writers do a deposit like I do, some collect 50% up front, and some collect full payment up front. I like the $100 deposit approach because it covers my time to put together their custom questionnaire, but if they don't get back to me with the completed questionnaire for a while (or at all!), I'm not having to worry about me owing them services. (In Nebraska at least, services that are paid for but not rendered are technically considered to be "unclaimed property" and should be turned over to the state after a certain period of time.) I send the questionnaire via email when I receive the deposit (I don't wait for the check to clear the bank before sending the questionnaire).

You can certainly offer a la carte options (i.e., resume for this price; resume and cover letter for this price) but I find that the package approach is attractive to the customers I work with. They get a resume, cover letter, reference page, and letterhead template for one price. As I said, LinkedIn profile development (headline + summary usually) for an extra fee. 

The most important thing is for YOU to decide what YOU want to do and then take ownership of it. It doesn't matter what "every other resume writer" is doing, or even what other resume writers charge. There have been a couple of folks who have jumped right into the resume writing industry and started charging $1000 for a resume and cover letter within their first year. It's your business... it's up to you!

Hope that helps!


PS -- Be sure to sign up for at least a Free Level membership on so I can share additional resources/ideas with you. I also offer a Bronze membership for $10/month with LOTS of great benefits (special reports to help you be more effective in your work and in your work with clients, ready-to-go content you can use with your clients, access to recordings/transcripts of previous teleseminars I've done, etc.). Sign up for either here:

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