Graphic design is my speciality, but of course, with graphic design comes printing. Business cards, letterhead, postcards, banners, and the list goes on.
My question is how can we stay competittive with print prices if we have to invoice printing through UpWork? Upwork takes 20% off the top of invoices, so that drastically eats at your profit margin if you are also selling and invoicing print jobs through UpWork.
Do I just mark up prices 20% if I bill through UpWork? But then, you'll lose work because you're not longer competitive. How do you guys handle this?
What I do when I'm bidding on a job where the client has set a reasonable budget, but is receiving a lot of low bids, is go the extra mile. I know what types of proposals the client is probably seeing if they have a $2,000 budget and have received offers as low as $100. So in my proposal, using this scenario, I would send a well-written formal proposal illustrating that I see the problem that they are facing, and how I, as a professional web developer, will go about solving the problem or bringing their vision to life. My price will be based on what I know I'm worth, plus the fees that I will have to pay, but I'm betting on my language, background, and formal proposal to edge out the low-ballers.
That's how I justify my price being higher.
Also, I leverage the language and benefits of a fixed-price contract to the client, as I can solidify the start and end of the project, re-assure them with an upfront cost, and plant in their mind that on a particular date, their project will be be alive.
In your case, with having to invoice the printing, and having looked at your profile; I would probably go after larger contracts where I could assume the cost of the Upwork fee without eating too much into profit. And if you have to bid on smaller or mid-range projects, just explain in a concise paragraph that you may be higher in price, but here's what you have that the competition probably doesn't have (by inference).
After looking over your profile, Gary, I can see that you already know very well how Upwork works, but keep in mind that a lot of clients may not. It's very common for me to have a client that needs me to walk them through the process of this or that (as you probably know). And with more than thirty jobs on Upwork, Top Rated Status, and a high JSS, you've certainly demonstrated that you're a professional worthy of any prices higher than, as you mentioned, your competition.
I hope that I've been helpful.
I would have thought the majority of clients assume that they'll be organising their own printing?
I've hired for design before and it would never have occured to me to NOT sort out the printing myself...
I only ever organise printing for a few of my trusted, local clients. I think that it would be very risky to offer printing services to Upwork clients, because if anything goes wrong - if the printer messes something up or the delivery is late, or if the client simply decides to scam you and ask for a refund - you'll be out thousands of dollars.
My mark-up for printing was never more than 15-20% anyway and, as you say, the Upwork fee would eat into that, so there's no real benefit. So if your clients ask about printing (few of mine ever do these days), then I'd advise you to tell them to find a local printer and say that you'll liaise with that printer, then just charge a bit extra for your time.