Bookkeeping services pricing guide: How to nail your pricing

One of the most delicate aspects to bookkeeping is figuring out how much to charge your clients. If you charge too little, they’ll undervalue your services and you make less money. But if you charge too much, you’ll struggle to find new clients or retain old ones. So, how do you strike a balance between the two?

Bookkeeping services pricing guide: How to nail your pricing. A bookkeeper looking through her profit margins.


  • Pricing your bookkeeping services right is difficult, but essential.
  • Certain factors like location and size of your client base impact your pricing.
  • While charging by the hour is a straightforward strategy, it puts a ceiling on your profit.
  • Fixed-fee pricing rewards efficiency but makes you vulnerable to scope creep.
  • Value-based pricing can be time-consuming to set up but will maximize your profit.
  • 3-tiered pricing will encourage repeat clients and maximize profit.

Generally, small to medium-sized businesses expect to pay between $500-$2,500 USD monthly for their outsourced bookkeeping—an dauntingly large range to deal with.

To make things more complicated, a freelancer, small business, bookkeeping firm, or an accounting firm will offer different average rates for bookkeeping services.

Plus there are a variety of other factors that influence your bookkeeping rates: 

  • Experience 

  • Type of services offered

  • Certifications

  • Location

  • Client size

So to bill correctly, it’s important to identify what you're charging for, the way you charge, and what adjustments you can make to improve your bottom line.

For example, many people think profitability starts and ends with their hourly rate, but that’s operating under the (usually false) assumption that hourly is the best way to charge for your services.

Value-based pricing, instead, rewards experience and tech fluency. It’s the future in a changing accounting industry, where you can utilize tech to increase efficiency and output. More on this below.

Bookkeeping costs: Pricing considerations for bookkeeping services

To set the correct pricing, you need to start by assessing the various factors that affect your rate. Some are more impactful than others, but they should all be considered.

Does your firm specialize in accounting? Here’s an accounting services pricing guide.

Fixed costs

Fixed costs (or overheads) are the bare minimum that it takes for you to keep delivering work for your clients. They don’t change with how much money you make, so they can be reliably calculated into billing decisions. Examples of fixed costs include:

  • Office space rental or mortgage costs

  • Property taxes

  • Utilities

  • Salaries

If you think they’re too high for you to set reasonable rates, consider lowering them. A major and effective way to do that is to move to a remote or hybrid work set-up

Your location

Location plays an important factor in pricing, although less-so since the pandemic and the rise of remote work and cloud accounting.

Still, from state-to-state in the US, there are significant differences. For example, in Massachusetts, in-house bookkeepers earn 20% more than the national average, whereas in Kentucky, they earn 22% less than the national average. 

When you’re calculating your rates, especially in a new location, doing local research is crucial. Ask other bookkeepers about services, rates, and gather any other information about working in your area that will help you stay competitive.


Though you don’t need to be a certified CPA as a bookkeeper, there are still certifications you can gain to justify a higher fee for your services.

For example, the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offers a QuickBooks Online certification. Xero and other accounting software have their own qualifications which, once earned, show you’re an expert in their product. 

With tech taking up so much airspace in modern accounting, those who are fluent users are quickly outpacing those who aren’t. In a survey by PracticeWeb, 66% of clients surveyed said they would pay more for a ‘tech-savvy’ accountant. 

Becoming certified in your accounting software is a green light for business owners. They’ll be more inclined to pay higher fees if they see you’ve been endorsed by well-known software companies, especially if it’s the software that they use for their accounts.


In any industry, experience is influential in pricing decisions, and bookkeeping is no different. It means quality of service, efficiency, calmness, problem-solving, and confidence.

As a bookkeeper, you can and should leverage your experience to increase your profit. If you’ve been working in the industry for 10 years, for example, you’ll have the client base, referrals, references, and body of work to quote a higher rate.

Don’t be fearful of having conversations about raising rates with long-term clients. If they value your relationship and the service you provide, they’ll understand why you make  occasional and reasonable increases. Not sure how to have these conversations? Here are some helpful tips.

Client size

Generally, larger clients take more of your time. And with time being the ultimate resource, it’s important to charge clients proportionally to the amount of time you’re dedicating to their services.

Grouping your clients can help you with fixed-fee billing amounts:

  • A small client: less than 10 hours monthly

  • A medium client: between 10 and 20 hours monthly

  • A large client: over 20 hours monthly

Once you’ve grouped your clients into size categories, you can develop fixed-fee billing that fits how much time you're spending on their account. 

Types of services you offer 

How can clients engage with your services? Do you offer both ongoing services and one-off projects? And what specific services do you offer? Is there potential for you to offer more to your clients? 

Asking yourself these questions is vital to knowing the right bookkeeping pricing for you.

Businesses typically expect certain services to be part of bookkeeping, but providing additional offerings that add value to your clients' businesses can justify charging a higher fee. These tasks might require different certifications, specialized skills, or additional time, which means they can be billed at a different rate.

Basic bookkeeping services include:

  • Documenting and categorizing transactions

  • Accounts receivable and accounts payable

  • Assessing a company’s cash flow

  • Use accounting software like Xero or Quickbooks Online to manage a business's finances

Additional services or add-ons you can include:

  • Preparing financial statements, such as balance sheets or profit/loss statements

  • Payroll

  • HR services

  • IT services

  • Advisory services

  • Tax preparation and filing of tax returns

  • Full charge bookkeeping

A full charge bookkeeper has a larger responsibility and full oversight over a company’s finances. They advise, oversee payroll and prepare financial reports. If you’re not there already, it’s worth upskilling to get to that point, as you’ll be able to justify higher pricing packages.

3 ways to price your bookkeeping services

1. Hourly rate pricing

Hourly billing is the traditional and most straightforward way bookkeepers charge: you set your rate per hour based on your fixed costs and desired profit margin, then, however many hours it takes you to complete the work, that’s the fee.

But the hourly rate is becoming outdated with the dominance of technology. Tech makes once time-consuming work quick, and in many cases, effortless. This means that regardless of a service’s value to your clients, you’re capping your pricing based on how long it takes to deliver that service. 

Bookkeepers, especially new businesses (the ones who don’t have to make the sometimes messy transition to another pricing model), should avoid hourly billing for that reason. 

Pros of hourly rate pricing:

  • Uncomplicated structure

  • If jobs become more complicated, you won’t lose money

Cons of hourly rate pricing:

  • Puts a ceiling on potential profit

  • Doesn’t reward efficiency

  • Unscalable

  • Often need to justify hours spent on a task

  • A lot of effort spent on time tracking and billing

With an hourly rate, unless you can find more hours in the day, it’s difficult—borderline impossible—to drive up profit significantly.

2. Fixed-rate pricing

A strong alternative to hourly billing is fixed-rate (or flat-fee). It means you set a fee for each service you offer and provide clients with a ‘menu’ of sorts, with corresponding prices. 

For example, you would have separate prices for:

  • Preparing balance statements

  • Documenting transactions

  • Processing payroll

For certain jobs, it’s wise to make this fixed-fee model scalable. For example, you might process a certain number of transactions for one cost, but going over that incurs a different fee. This ties into client size and is a good way to stay transparent while correctly charging larger clients.

Fixed-fee pricing allows you to increase profit as you increase efficiency—the more efficiently you can work, the greater the profit margin.

But fixed-fee also has its shortcomings. Some clients just take more time. Maybe their data is poor quality or someone on their team isn’t doing their job meticulously; there are many factors that could impact your ability to deliver a job in the timeframe you accounted for. 

By definition, fixed-fee pricing is inflexible, and in a complex industry, inflexibility can cost you money. 

Pros of fixed-rate pricing:

  • Rewards efficiency

  • Allows you to bill upfront

  • It gives clients peace of mind knowing there won’t be unforeseen costs

Cons of fixed-rate pricing:

  • Can be difficult to calculate moving from hourly rates

  • Vulnerable to scope creep

  • Unforeseen complications could cost you

3. Value-based pricing

Value-based pricing means pricing your services upfront based on the perceived value they have to your clients. 

You can take into account the client, the job type, your experience, along with many other factors to give a fair quote.

If you don’t already have a relationship with the client, usually these quotes follow a discovery meeting to find out all the client details, including their goals, what they’re looking for in a bookkeeper, their high-level business information, etc.

And because you’re giving them a quote prior to starting the work, prospective clients won’t be surprised by any hidden costs.

But why adopt this system over fixed-fee?

Value pricing is a future-proof pricing system. It allows you to adjust your fees without painting yourself into a corner, which can happen if you provide quotes to clients when you don’t know the details of their business.

Pros of value-based pricing:

  • Maximize profitability

  • Flexibility to adjust pricing on an individual basis

  • Builds relationships and promotes discussion with clients

Cons of value-based pricing:

  • More time-consuming to set up

  • Can be difficult to transition from an hourly-based system (though you can find help for that here)

How to package your bookkeeping services as a small business

In an ideal world, all your clients would be ongoing at a fixed or value-based billing structure. They would know what services to expect from you, and you could charge an automatic, monthly fee.

However, there are slightly more sophisticated ways to package your bookkeeping services that encourage repeat clients, and maximize profits.

3-tiered pricing

Bundling services together in set packages is a good way to implement fixed-fee pricing. A common way to do this is by building a tiered system for different levels of service.

A common pricing structure is 3-tiered pricing. At the end of the day, pricing is psychological. Studies show that if given three options, consumers are 66% more likely to choose the middle tier.

Most people don’t want the most expensive option, but they also feel dissatisfied with selecting the base option because it lacks certain features. So, naturally, they’ll select the middle tier.

But more importantly, there’s a concept called price anchoring.

Price anchoring is a strategy that plays on a buyer’s tendency to inherently compare information. So, when people see your pricing options, one of the things they’ll first notice is that your top-tier option is higher than your mid- and low-tier plans, and they’ll use that as an anchor. 

Straight away, the mid- and low-tier plans will appear the more palatable pricing options.

Download The Pricing Playbook for practical steps for doubling your pricing without increasing your workload.

Using that knowledge, you can package your services into 3 tiers:

  • Basic: includes basic bookkeeping services such as transaction categorization, accounts payable and receivable.

  • Standard: everything in the basic package but with additional services, such as payroll or creating financial reports. This should be more expensive than the basic tier.

  • Premium: this should include everything from the two previous tiers but with advisory services, tax preparation, or other premium services you’re qualified to offer. This should be billed up to twice as much as the standard package.

You can read more about how to implement the 3-tiered pricing system here.

Test for success

The best way to know if a pricing structure will work for you is by testing it. Noticing trends for the different pricing systems that you test is key to establishing the right balance. 

When implementing fixed-fee or value-based billing, it’s easy to under or overestimate the time it will take you to complete a task. Having an open dialogue with clients about this when you’re first signing them can be a good idea to pre-empt adjustments down the line. 

Another option is to offer an hourly rate for the first job with a new client. Once you feel comfortable with their business and how they work, then use those hours to calculate a fair value-based fee to charge in the future.

Push value-add services

58% of accountants said updating technology has improved efficiency and productivity, which is vital for creating space to add the services that clients demand.

Marketing the services that add value to your clients outside of your typical responsibilities is a great way to increase revenue.

If you’re already doing a client’s books, approach them with an offer to build on your role. Show them how you can help them succeed into the future. They already trust you and you already know how their business works. It won’t be a difficult sell.

Automate common bookkeeping tasks and grow your client base

With the right technology, you can automate bookkeeping processes and tasks that once took hours of your time.

For example, tools like Dext allow you to pull and digitize data from paper invoices to cut down on data entry. 

With a tool like Karbon you can build and customize workflows for common job-types, and set-up automations to improve your efficiency and keep the project moving along. You can use the client portal and Client Requests to automatically chase clients for documents, and you can schedule those requests to be sent out at critical times: month or year-end, start of tax season, etc.

Download Karbon’s detailed Bookkeeping Best Practice Workflow template with monthly bookkeeping steps including weekly bookkeeping tasks, bi-weekly payroll, document gathering, adjustments, reports, and reviews. The template is divided into seven sections, and includes critical details for each step.

Bookkeeping pricing guide: A screenshot taken of the Karbon Bookkeeping Best Practice Workflow template.
Karbon’s best practice bookkeeping workflow template, including weekly bookkeeping needs, payroll, bill pay, financial transaction reconciliation, etc. 

Templates, workflows and automations all give you time back in your day that you can spend building your client base and adding value for existing clients.

Finding what works for you

Figuring out the right price or the right way to package your services isn’t easy. But breaking it down and building your pricing model by considering all the relevant factors will give you a reasonable solution to test. Though you must be willing to make changes if it isn’t working for you—even if that means having tough conversations with clients. 

There is a fine line between overcharging and undercharging, but the sweet spot does exist and you’ll know when you find it, because your clients will be happy, and so will you.