Surge Pricing for Creatives: How Uber’s Pricing Model Can Help You Protect Your Productivity and Earn More Money
Why You Should Set a Value for Your Time
Even if you don’t charge by the hour, it’s important to set a value on your time. Knowing the value of your time helps you make better decisions about when to say yes or no to invitations and when to delegate tasks.
If you want to reform your social media and web-surfing habits, it helps to know what that time online is costing you, in real dollars.
Assigning a value to your time isn’t just about setting a rate. It’s really about understanding the value of your time at different times of day.
Why I Protect My Mornings
I typically do not go online, or take meetings or calls before noon.
After my core morning rituals, which include my workout, meditation, prayer, and journaling, my morning is reserved for deep work.
I am fiercely protective of my morning routine. This is the work that is central to what I do: stepping back to see the big picture, developing ideas and solutions to help my clients, writing, and other creative work that requires my focus, attention and highest energy. This is big work, the important but not urgent work.
All time is not equal.
As Dan Pink writes in his book When, when we do things often has a bigger impact on the result than what we do.
My morning post-workout time is more valuable than my time at other times of the day.
For me, one hour in the morning post-workout is generally equal to 2–3 afternoon hours. Post-workout, my creativity is at its peak, and my attention is sharpest.
I consider that value when weighing whether to make an exception to my morning routine.
Surge Pricing for Creative Solopreneurs
Many people love to hate on Uber for its surge pricing — the increase in rates at times of peak demand.
Of course, Uber did not invent “surge pricing.” Surge pricing is a form of dynamic pricing, which has been around for decades.
It’s the default model in the travel industry, the standard for hotels and airlines. Baseball teams are now using it to fill seats in stadiums. Retailers use it.
The question is: why aren’t you?
To be fair, many service providers use this model to some extent. If you’re a coach or consultant who raises your rates once you fill your open spots, you’re pricing based on demand.
(If you’re filling your schedule and not raising your rates, we should talk about how I can help you command your value.)
External vs Internal Demand
By acknowledging that the value of my time is greater in the mornings than it is at other times of the day, I’m adopting a dynamic pricing model. I think of it in these terms even when I’m not charging for my time. There’s a higher threshold to get me to come to a morning meeting than an afternoon meeting.
The difference between my model and the typical dynamic pricing model is in the source of the demand.
The typical dynamic, or demand-based, pricing model that Uber and other businesses use is based on external demand for the resources of the business.
The stand that I take in protecting my mornings is in response to internal demand. I’m responding to the voice of my creativity and the priorities I set based on what is most important for me.
Creating and protecting the space for my best work is how I stand in the value of my work.
These two concepts create a self-reinforcing cycle. By creating space for my best work, I learned to value it. And the more I value my deep work, the more I protect that space.
Are You Selling Yourself Short?
Most service-based solopreneurs are reacting to external demands and sacrificing their best work in the process.
If you’re doing this, you’re undercutting your value. You’re saying that your creative time is not worth as much as whatever demands are waiting in your email or social feed.
Those demands will be there when you complete your creative time. But if you don’t honor your peak creativity hours, you may find that external demand for your services dries up.
How can anyone else value what you do if you don’t value it?
As if that’s not bad enough, if you charge for your time and allocating your peak creativity time without charging a higher rate, you are leaving money on the table.
Instead of hating on Uber and the travel industry, take a page from their book.
If you control your schedule and your rates, ideally you will preserve your peak creative time for creating.
To the extent you make exceptions to serve a client, you should be charging a premium for that time.
I am passionate about helping service-driven solopreneurs create space for their best work and stand in the value of their work. Want to know more? Join the movement at The Ritual Revolution.