If you’re considering day rates for your business, you may have a lot of questions about how to ensure your day rate strategies are going to work for you. In this post, we’re going to dig into how to set up a day rate or VIP day, the day rate agenda, and a few must-know day rate tips. I’m sharing with you everything I learned from offering day rates in my business for two calendar years, because I want you to be able to hear my workflow process, pros and cons, and be able to decide what’s best for you.
Make sure to read until the end because I’m going to give you my full pro and con list, because I want you to be able to decide what’s best for you and your business. I counted up around 17 of these we’ve done in my business over the years, clocking in and around 62K, which has been great as far as the cash injection, but like I said, learned some things along the way.
I remember where I was, working in a marketing agency about 10 years ago, where I first heard this axiom: “Do you want it good, fast or cheap? Because you can have two, but you can’t have all three”….Well now, isn’t that the truth?!
And if you are a freelancer, a consultant, a creative small business owner, or a service provider, you’ve probably felt like that before. But as you work as a service provider and you perform your craft for people, some typical objections usually come up when you’re trying to sell what it is you do. Sometimes you can have a waitlist or there’s the pricing for your full package that can be a little bit of a sticking point. Maybe the client needs something pretty a la cart and off the menu…
Enter: a day rate or a VIP day.
What I mean by a day rate or VIP day is that you’re offering a whole dedicated day spent with a single client in a one-on-one format that’s really allowing you to deliver as much of a set goal as possible.
Here’s my hot take—I think every service provider should consider VIP days or day rates for a season in their business, but I would recommend that you sunset them at some point in your business in lieu of your productized service.
With that said, let’s get to it.
No. 1| How to Set Up a Day Rate or VIP Day Agenda
Like I said, I’m a copywriter. So my take on all of this is coming from that being the “deliverable.” When it comes to interaction with your client, you may need more or you may need less, but I think this basic agenda will help you outline your VIP days.
There’s probably going to be some little combination of you holing up to make magic, and then you checking in with the client to show off your work or get questions answered. Now in step two, I’m going to talk more about selling the day rate, but here’s the thing I’m pretty staunch on—it’s called a day rate or a VIP day for a reason. I want to lock into a one day period, a one day work period, as much as possible. So I want minimal overflow going into other days.
For the agenda, what this means is before I start the day with the client I’m already spending one hour of this whole day, looking over this project, looking over everything they’ve submitted before spitballing ideas and trying to really wrap my head around what I could do with this.
This also means that before the call I’ve onboarded them well. I’ve pulled a quick and dirty sampling of how I would fully onboard full service clients and I’m getting them to go through this. I have sent along a welcome magazine, I’m asking to upload certain things in a Google Drive folder. I’ve even sent over some HoneyBook questionnaires and things where they can give me back the details and the info that I need to get going on the project.
(By the way, if you want a sampling of what your welcome magazine could say, I’ve got a free swipe that you can grab and plug and play in your own welcome magazine as you onboard your clients well, and try to prepare them for the service that you’re providing. You can grab that here)
Back to the agenda. The day then starts with a call with the client to say good morning, and me to ask any questions I have from the intake process. This can be virtual, or obviously, it could be in person, but this is a chance to say good morning and share your plan of attack, this is what I’m recommending, this is where my time is gonna be allotted throughout the day. I’m gonna work on this for this amount of time, this for this amount of time.
One tip here—personally, I didn’t like to time cap that first call and say, it’s gonna be an hour, it’s gonna be 30 minutes. My time was better spent trying to get off that call so I could spend my time on more important things and actually begin working on the deliverables. My main goal on that first call was to say can you confirm this is what’s most helpful for you because this is what I’m thinking.
Then next part of the agenda, the next 5-6 hours or so is me just working on the thing.
A few tips for you here. It can be so very hard during a day rate or a VIP day to think, the client is paying for my time, I can take no breaks whatsoever—but—over the years I learned a couple of things–>
- #1 It actually did work a lot better if I took a 15, 30 minute lunch break, did not eat over my keyboard, and actually stepped away. That was a more productive use of 30 minutes than trying to do two things at once.
- #2 I talk about this app all the time, but it’s that great. Focus keeper. It’s a free app that you can get and download and it would help me go with 25 minutes on five minutes off. I would take breaks during the day, but be very focused and intentional when I am working on the client deliverables.
Another tip I have as you craft your agenda is to ask your client to be on call and available throughout the day. Specifically, I would do is ask my client to be available for a check-in call during the day at one o’clock in the afternoon—kind of a midway point. I would email them before and either say, yes I do need to hop on the phone with you. I’ve got some questions, I’ve run into some sticking points or blocks. OR I could email them and say, you know what? I am rolling. I’m doing great. Let’s just talk at our later time in the day.
My days would wrap up around four o’clock with the client—this is where we would get on a longer call, an hour, maybe an hour and a half. This is their chance to ask strategy questions. It would also be my chance to present the deliverables that I had drafted during the day and created for them.
That in a nutshell is the basic agenda of a VIP or a day rate.
>>> Related: How to Create a Welcome Packet: Copy to Include (and Omit) <<<
No. 2| How to Sell a Day Rate
So VIP days, if you’re doing them right, you’re not selling so much of a finished, polished, perfect deliverable as you’re selling the time working focused with YOU. If you’re selling the finalized deliverable, then that’s just your service—your full service. If I’m buying a VIP date from you, I’m expecting I’m buying a block of hours where you just focus on me and my problems and solving them.
Here is why I absolutely love and believe in VIP days—you get dang good at figuring out how long a part of your process takes you. It ends the guessing game, your back’s up against the wall a little bit and you ~reallyyy~ have to figure out what you’re made of and how you can turn this deliverable around.
This is not as much of a benefit to the client, because it’s assuming that you’ve got a perfect scenario on your plans and that you’re going to run into zero hiccups along the way. The day’s gonna go absolutely beautifully and smoothly—which I *hope* it will. But by and large, there’s just gonna be gaps in things along the way.
This is why it’s so hard to be able to sell to your client and tell them yes, by the end of this day, you will have X, Y, and Z polished and into your hands. Legally, at least for a lot of us service providers, that’s really hard to predict.
But you’re the practitioner. You’re the professional. You’re like that farmer who can like their fingers, stick it in the air, and tell exactly which way the wind is blowing. You know enough about what you do to be able to spitball and tell me about how long it’s gonna take you. You should be able to give me a rough estimate of what you could get done in a day rate.
So if you’re gonna sell day rates or VIP days, you need to get dang good at explaining that the deliverable is time to your potential clients.
On that discovery call (or client magazine/on your website work with me page)—you’re helping them put apples to apples so they can understand they can either get the full-service package and get everything done and dusted. Or they could get the VIP day, which is a little bit more of a rough, quick and dirty way that they could get to the result they’re looking for.
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Thoreau said. Pricing these needs to be way down off your full-service price, but it needs to be high enough that it accommodates for that pain in the booty factor, the PIA factor—’cause they’re exhausting.
To wrap up selling a day rate, essentially the game is managing expectations 150%. It’s pretty easy to sell the pros when you’re talking about this with clients, they get to skip the waitlist , they get a fraction of the full-service price, they get your full attention— an incredible bang for the buck. BUT you can’t guarantee results because you’re on the clock.
So one other tip here before I wrap this one up make sure that you have a solid tight contract in place. I’ve used The Contract Shop for mine, riffed off of that to create the day rate template that we used for years in my business—it’s a great start.
You’ve got to have an airtight contract if you’re gonna be providing a day rate of VIP day.
>>> Related: The Sales Call Workflow I Absolutely Swear By <<<
No. 3| Pros and Cons of a Day Rate or VIP Day
Okay. Finally, I want to boil this down to the pros of a day rate or a VIP day.
Pros of a Day Rate/VIP Day
- The cashflow factor. Heck yes. These can absolutely boost your bottom line. Especially if you’re in a season of business where you’ve got these random days where you can’t quite fit some other tasks or jobs. Just selling them as day rates can be a great way to get a cash flow injection.
- It is a killer offer and a great chance for a client to get what they need. They skipped your waitlist, they roughly got something that they were looking for outsourced and off their plate. They did it for a fraction of your full price and they’re just having to deal with the fact that it’s not *perfect* or maybe as good as you could have done if you did it in a full package.
- You really see what you’re made of and how long bits of your process are going to take—that is killer insight.
Cons of a Day Rate/VIP Day
- I found them unbelievably exhausting. I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, I can do one a week and make a bank doing these, but that was not sustainable. And here’s why. After that end-of-day call would end, I would find that I’d usually go back and be tying up some loose ends, putting things up with a pretty bow, and also over-delivering and trying to clean up things just a little bit more. That’s not a bad thing, but before I knew it it would be 7:00 PM, and here I had spent 12+ hours on this one project day rate where I was initially just selling seven hours. That pressure to get the absolute most bang for the buck is super high on a day rate.
- They can be difficult to sell and communicate to the client that you can’t really guarantee what they’re gonna get.
- You can forget about turning in perfect work. Remember those timed math tests that you had to take growing up? That’s kind of what it feels like. You don’t have the chance to go back and clean every single bit because you’re on the clock and they bought a day. So mentally you have to deal with that.
- Time zones can be tricky too. We ended up finding some workarounds and things that worked if we had a client in Australia, for example, but we did that a good few times. So you do have to come into thinking about, especially if you’re working virtually, how it’s gonna work via time zones.
- The biggest con or reason that I decided to pull day rates off of our menu of client services— I didn’t like not being able to guarantee results as a conversion copywriter. I did not like being able to say, here’s the very best sales page I can churn out or website copy piece I can turn out, email funnel I can turn out for you within this time constraints. I don’t know. I can’t babysit it. I can’t look at it and tell you if it’s really going to work or not, because this was just me spending some hours today churning it out. As a copywriter, I like being able to say, this is gonna get you lift on your funnel. I’m going to predict it. If not, we’re gonna dig back in and try to figure out what went wrong along the way. I like being able to touch multiple pieces of a funnel as a copywriter. So ultimately for me, I’ve just decided to pull them off.
But like I said, I learned so much along the way and would recommend at least considering them.
Now that you know how to discern if day rates are right for you or not, you’re ready to sell them and market them to your email list then make sure that you watch this video on my YouTube channel—I’m digging into some of my very best email marketing copy tips—I think you’ll like it.
Comment below any questions that you may have, and be sure to share this with your business buddies. Here’s to working from a place of more rest, less hustle—even on this crazy day rates.;)