The importance of putting your prices up

It’s been four years since Freelance Mum launched. The initial pilot session was free, then we started charging a nominal fee of £5. Over the years there has been a slight increase but nothing that really reflected the level of input that actually goes into running an event. And believe me, quite literally hours go into every one – far more than you could probably imagine.

Freelance Mum Blog showcase

Freelance mums, dads and kids Netwalking in Bristol

As I write the prices have just increased from £9 for members and £12 for non-members, to £15 for members and £20 for non-members. Membership is £45 and includes a free entry to FM, a day pass to the Lido (worth £20) and a whole heap of member benefits.

Today I had my first complaint about the prices. Although I was sad the member didn’t feel they could afford to attend Freelance Mum any more and hope our paths cross again, it reinforced my decision.

We want Freelance Mum to be sustainable. We want Freelance Mum to be here for generations to come. We know Freelance Mum is unique – we are regularly recognised for our work and achievements. Just last week I was invited to the Women in West Business Awards. To celebrate 100 years since women got the vote, they drew up a list of the ‘100 most influential women in the West’ – and there I was, with my name on the list for my work with Freelance Mum!

What an honour, what an incredible recognition that the small but mighty Freelance Mum can make a difference to peoples lives every day. And 100 years since getting the vote, in our own Freelance Mum way, we’re carrying that mantle.

I digress – but it’s an important digression to make. Because above allowing parents in business to network, Freelance Mum shows the next generation that you can do the thing you love. To do that, though, there has to be an element of realism… and so, back to the prices.

At the moment Freelance Mum is very much a labour of love. Every penny that comes in goes straight into building our little community. In four years Freelance Mum hasn’t reached the tax threshold. And that isn’t sustainable. Unless we can make the model work, how can it possibly last? How can we possibly empower or be a good role model for the next generation?

I had a sobering conversation while doing my books recently and it boiled down to one thing – the prices HAVE to increase. And really, if you’re in business, is £15 or £20 a month too much to spend on your business? Not forgetting it is also business expense so tax deductible, and you don’t need to fork out for childcare because you can bring your children along!

So here’s what you’re getting when you come to Freelance Mum – I mean the actual nuts and bolts, not just the enormous sense of well being and the lovely ‘warm and fuzzies’ of belonging to such a fabulous group. Here’s the lowdown:

  • 2 x hours of facilitated networking
  • Guest speaker
  • A chance to showcase your business on the gubbins table
  • Bottomless Fair-trade tea & coffee
  • Locally made fresh cakes and brownies
  • Follow up support emails
  • Delegates contacts (where permission is granted)
  • A great location
  • Snacks for children
  • Craft for children
  • Free entry for children
  • Professionally photographed events – to capture the memories
  • Coverage and support on social media
  • Ongoing support in The Mothership

We remain by far one of the cheapest networking events in Bristol and we’re entirely unique as we include children. In fact because it’s unique I’m regularly told by one business coach that I should actually be charging a premium!

But I don’t because I get it. I’m a mum too, to two beautiful little girls who I adore. I know just how hard it is to run a business while looking after little people. Don’t forget, that this was born of my own need of trying to juggle my work as a voiceover artist around my children. I honestly feel your pain.

But not charging a sensible rate isn’t doing any one any favours. In fact, it’s does any one in a similar industry a disservice, because it undercuts them and gives others a false impression that the cheaper model is sustainable.

Which is why (after a great deal of thought and far too many apologies) the prices have finally been increased to reflect the hours of time that go into Freelance Mum. We want Freelance Mum to be here for generations to come, because doing the thing you love around bringing up children – well actually, that’s priceless.

The Business Surgery – How to capture the right image for your business

“Have a decluttered background, things that don’t distract, always find good light… having a consistent look and planning. Planning ahead is a major thing – you definitely need to plan.”

Nicola Proctor, Nicola Jane Photography

Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker – takes questions from The Mothership and puts them to our in-house expert. In this month’s Business Surgery, we speak to photography expert, Nicola Proctor, taking your questions on ‘How to capture the right image for your business’.

 

Exhibitions – how to make your stall stand out

Make your business stand out from the crowd

A friend of mine recently posted a shout out on social media, asking whether anyone had any experience of having a stand at an exhibition and whether it was worth it. It was really interesting to see the responses. For some, it just wasn’t worth the time, money and effort. But others had stories of how it had gained them some great new business as well as exposure.

The truth is that there are many different factors that might influence your decision as to whether or not having a stall is worthwhile. How much will it cost? Are your target clients or customers going to be there? Do you have the time or capacity to man the stall for a whole day, bearing in mind that it’s a day away from your desk and your client work?

Personally I’m still wavering on some of the big events where I’d need to spend several hundred pounds on the space alone. But when I found out about the Freelance Mum National Freelancers Day event on 28 June – where stalls are just £25, or £20 for FM members – I jumped at the chance. Not only am I certain it will be loads of fun (how can in not be with Faye in charge?!) but at that price it’s the ideal opportunity to practice ‘stall craft’ and test out ideas that I may go on to use at future events.

Researching this blog post has been a fascinating experience. Because another thing I’ve realised is that the value you get out of exhibiting is as much about how much effort you put in as anything else. So here are some ways you can maximise your experience should decide to come along to Freelance Mum’s National Freelancers Day extravaganza or any other event.

Be strategic

What do you want to get out of the event? Do you want sign ups to your newsletter? Make sure you have a sign up sheet or a laptop where people can fill out their details. Are you hoping to make a splash on social media? Consider investing in an Instaframe (you’ve all seen the brilliant FM one!) and get everyone who visits your stall to use it and tag you in the post. By knowing in advance what you want to achieve from the day, you’ll also be better able to track how successful you’ve been rather than just guessing from how it ‘felt’.

Be visible

In a room full of businesses all hoping to gain people’s attention it’s important that your brand is instantly recognisable. Whether you go for a simple roller banner or invest a decent sized budget in kitting out your stand with the whole works, it’s definitely something you need to think carefully about. If at all possible, do use a graphic designer who can help you get the professional finish – we’ve got lots of lovely people in the Freelance Mum gang who can help!

Be inventive

The more outside the box your thinking, the more memorable you will be. You’ll also attract more people to your stand in the first place. I went to an event where local tech company Black Star had hired an ice cream machine and were giving away pitch black ice cream! And Faye was telling me about an accountancy firm who hired a beautician to give people mini manicures while they were chatting about their business finances. It’s worth noting that both of these companies are service based, proving you don’t need to be selling beautiful products to make getting a stall worth it!

Be memorable

Attracting people to your stand isn’t the end of the story. You want them to remember you when they walk away too. This might be because you had a really engaging video or animation playing, or everyone manning the stall was dressed head to toe in gold (well, you would remember that wouldn’t you?!). Also be sure that you have printed marketing material they can take away, whether that’s a brochure, flyer or even just a business card (you’ll need more than you think!) – something that will jog their memory when they’re clearing out their bag later and hopefully prompt them to get in touch.

Be proactive

You don’t have to wait for people to contact you after an event. If you’ve planned properly and made sure to collect contact details, you can get in touch with them. The key is to ensure you have their permission so you meet GDPR requirements (Cat Ainsworth from The Dot Project did a fab talk on this at FM this month, so she’s the person to ask for more details). Following up to say thank you for visiting the stall or perhaps offering a special discount is a great way to put yourself back in their mind and hopefully develop a relationship that will lead them to buy from or work with you in the future.

If your head is buzzing with ideas now (mine certainly is!) then why not put them into practice at the Freelance Mum National Freelancers Day event on Thursday 28 June from 10am to 4pm. You never know, you might just get the exhibiting bug!

Download the booking form, to book your stall.Stall Application Freelancers Day

This fab post has been written by Rin Hamburgh.