If I had a price tag around my neck listing what my work is worth, it would be placarded with mark down stickers and topped with the stigmatic red dot – 80% off right here. I am a bargain. A steal. Take me. Someone. Please.
I have been flirting with the freelance thing for several years, doing small marketing communication gigs for family and FOFs (friends of family). Because I am so uncomfortable with naming my price I work in-kind. It seems safer for me. But that’s no way to run a business, which is what it is all about in the bitter end. I am a product. A brand.
When your work is subjective and when you are your harshest critic it can feed into devaluing your worth. I have to push through the self-mutilation of my writing and designs to reach a point of satisfaction. This is good. This is what it took to make it. This is what it is worth.
Women seem particularly afflicted with the flaw of discounting and settling, especially in the non-freelance workplace. This is evident in every job offer I have negotiated. Only “negotiate” is not the right word to describe the salary skirting I do, afraid if I raise the “s” word before the offer is extended it will be a deal-killer. An extra week’s paid vacation and 3% bump in annual bonus? She’s not worth it.
Even worse is that I am like most professionals who are not actively job hunting when the current career is lush with satisfaction and growth opps. Typically I prowl when the workload has beaten me down and my self-confidence flat-lined. Any offer is a good offer when you are weighing the alternative- 30 years in purgatory. Which is how it seems when you are not in a happy place with your work.
Writing, designing, event planning, marketing promotion is work that comes naturally to me and that I enjoy. That signals I am in my right groove and should not be embarrassed to be compensated for it. Truth is if you have an iota of creativity and work ethic someone wants to tap into what you got and make it part of what they are. That’s why branding- and personal branding – is so strong. I buy a BMW because of its engineering precision, performance, and clean design and I want some essence of that to rub off on me.
Value what you do, do good work, and don’t be ashamed to give it a cost. And have confidence to back it up when the other party starts to hedge. A friend recently told me that if you price yourself higher, others will take your work seriously, and I think she nailed it. Price yourself for what you believe you are worth. Stop underselling yourself. Nobody wants a knock-off brand.