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As an entrepreneur, there’s the pressure to increase your prices especially when you see others charging thousands of dollars. However, taking your skills, customers, and market range into account, when exactly can you hike up your prices without losing your existing clients?
We recently had a chat with Oyekunle Damola, the Founder of Dptrax - an SEO and digital marketing firm for SMBs.
In this conversation, he shares how he ventured into being an entrepreneur, the challenges he’s had to overcome, along with pricing strategies for upcoming entrepreneurs and freelancers.
Hi. So I have certain morning rituals that help keep my creative side active. But a controversial thing I believe in is that your morning routine starts from when you wake up. So even if I wake up by 10 am, these are still my morning rituals lol.
The first thing I do is my prayers and use them as a source of meditation. Then I do my exercises, bathe, and have something light to eat like cereal. After this, I get straight to work.
I tend to structure my creative work in the morning and then technical or routine work during the day. After this, well… there’s no structure to my day.
At night though, I do a brain dump because most entrepreneurs take their pending tasks to bed. And this causes sleepless nights. So I make a log of things I have left and once I write them down, my brain can shut down.
I round up my day by watching something before I sleep. I know it’s a bad habit but that’s how I sleep.
For me, meditation is about clearing my head so I can focus on the things I want to do. It’s why most people get their best ideas in the bathroom - it's because the mind is free and you can put things in perspective.
So you don’t have to sit down and put your hands in prayer mode to meditate. You can meditate while taking a walk. I recommend using guided meditation on Youtube to start and have a goal so you can track your success.
Well, it started in 2014 when I learned web design. Then I was told that my certificate might not be enough to get me a job after school. I did computer engineering and that was something very sad to hear.
I come from a poor background and so I couldn’t afford to not have money. Anyways, I had to acquire skills to be able to make money.
That’s where the problem started. After getting the skill, I realized that getting clients was a completely different ball game.
As an entrepreneur, you need to learn the business side of things which involves, attracting clients by marketing yourself.
So during my research on how to market myself, I stumbled on SEO, Facebook ads, and all of that. I did free courses on Udemy, and Coursera, read tons of blog posts and practiced what I learned.
That’s how I grew. Today I still do this. I recently bought a design course because you have to constantly upgrade your knowledge. It’s what has brought me this far.
To be honest my health issues triggered the move. In 2016-2017, I had a fall that affected my spine. At first, it wasn’t a problem, but later on, I couldn’t sit down for too long. Gradually I had to cut down my office hours because there were no standing desks.
My boss at Jobberman both CEO and HR were so helpful so I’d work at the office until 12pm and then do the rest of the work at home. The pain worsened until I was only able to work at the office once a week.
After my surgeries in 2017, it was impossible to go back to work because it meant I’d have to use public transportation and so I had to go fully into remote work. It was a necessity.
I had to start marketing myself because employers didn’t believe in WFH. So I’d be like hey, this is the amount of work I can get done and these are the results, even if I don’t come into the office. Thankfully, the pandemic made things easier.
It's been hard. A friend asked me how am I coping and I answered “who said I’m coping?”
I’m a Christian and so I hold on to the story of Job. Because he went through a lot - more than I can ever go through.
Secondly, if I don’t work, I can’t eat. My parents are retired and I definitely don’t want to be a burden. So I’m using these two things to push through the pain.
I’m also optimizing for a better work-life balance so I don’t rely on painkillers. I have a PA that handles a sizable amount of things too. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs should learn how to optimize for a work-life balance.
I also look forward to the little pleasures. Like eating banana bread, watching anime and you know the little joys in life.
The thing is, you cannot dissociate when you’re marketing for yourself.
Let's say your supervisor asks you to reach out to 1000 people and close 20 sales. If at the end of the day you call these people and you don’t meet your target, you’ll try again the next day - because it’s just business.
If you personally do that for your brand, it gets to you. You’d tend to give up faster. That’s the psychological part.
When you’re marketing for other businesses, you’re able to run tests and put out more content. If you do this for your brand, you’d be susceptible to imposter syndrome.
You would never think the business you market for was a fraud you know. So these things make it a bit harder.
So in my case, it's just my skill, to be honest. Although that’s just the small part. You need to know that people are not doing as well as you think.
I’ve had people reach out to me to help run ads for them and they talk about their figures. When I go look at their page, I’m like huh? They should be doing so much better.
It's even worse for creators because there are times when there’s a drought especially when you don’t have many clients. You’d post every day and there are low views and zero income- it's discouraging.
First off- understand that it happens to everyone. People are not making as much as you think they are. Just push through these droughts and make things work in your favor. People burn out and no one talks about it.
Contentment is also part of it - if you’re improving, the good stuff will come. So take your time and be consistent with growing your brand.
Start small, grow big but don’t forget to always start small. I’ll also say consider your location, skill level, and what you can potentially gain.
When it comes to pricing, most people charge out of the market because they see established people charging that high. They forget that you have to start from somewhere.
Pricing strategists will always tell you to raise your price and they’ll forget to tell you to beef up your offerings.
Do you want to sell a N5,000 product to 1000 people or a N100,000 product to 5 people? There’s really no right or wrong.
If you want to charge high though, build up your skill and build that portfolio even if it means charging less to charge high later - it’ll pay off. I designed a website for N700,000 and it was a referral.
There’s also the location factor. My Facebook accelerator course costs about $500. Internationally it's about $3k because it has over 100 videos but I took my current market into consideration.
Seeing that if I price it that high, Nigerians won’t buy it. I cannot run all the ads by myself and so let me share this knowledge.
But if I keep raising my prices what happens to those starting out? Where will they get the course? But that's me. I don’t have the ambition to earn 1m dollars, I’m very contented. I spend a lot on my gadgets but anything outside this, I'm not interested.
There’s a book, the psychology of money. I recommend it because it teaches contentment and not changing your wants. A lot of people look out for well-paying jobs and when they get one, it's like the money is not enough.
The truth is some brands will always want to undercharge you and it’s left for you to decide if you want this or not.
I get that you might be desperate sometimes, but you also need to know when to turn down money for your peace of mind. Don’t overlook the red flags.
If you die today, they will find another contractor. So put yourself first. Also, have a support system. Since communities can get toxic from posturing, go within your close-knitted group
It's a doubled-edge sword. People who know me personally ask me this a lot - and I’m open to them because we are close. But if I don’t know you, I’m not sure I’d want to put that out.
Someone taught me pricing in like 2012. She asked me to build a website for her and when I couldn’t properly say what my pricing was, she asked me to calculate my running expenses and then add the profit I’d want to realize from it.
So calculate things like paying for graphics, web hosting, data, etc, and then factor it into your pricing. Also go easy with the comparison, for other entrepreneurs like yourself, you don’t know how much work goes on in the background.
You don’t know their engagement rates, the value brands get when they work with them, whether they use a videographer or their own phone, and so on.
So if you’re comparing rate cards with others, remember to not take their rates as the standard.
Hmmm….what works for me might not work for everyone else. I invest right which sounds like a big deal until you find out that it's in Nigerian Mutual Funds. It’s not high at about 8% but it's better than what you’d get in the bank.
While there are higher rates out there, I’ve lost millions into agro partnerships and other high-interest rate investments. Thankfully I didn’t put my whole money into it.
I also get paid as a business owner and my salary is not plenty, to be honest. But if you keep dipping into your business funds it’ll lead to overspending.
As a creator, pay yourself a salary, create an account and stick to it. Don’t spend more than you earn as a salary. If you want more, you can work hard, earn that amount and spend it how you want.
You can do this if you earn more money as a remote worker and I’m sure with a Grey foreign account, you can exploit the international market, increase your earnings and receive money easily.
Finally, don’t charge someone in Atlanta, Ibadan fee, and vice versa. There’s this lady that charges 100k for Nigerians and at least $800 for international clients.
She factors in currency strength, purchasing power, and more. Be nice to your country's people.
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