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Knowing and standing by your value as a freelancer

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

My biggest challenge in becoming a freelancer and entrepreneur has been to charge for my value and never negotiate down from what I am worth.

Gary Vaynerchuck jolted my thinking when he told the story about his first presenting gig. He was asked to present for an hour and he thought, wow, I didn’t know you could get paid for this, and he had the guts to ask for a price he thought was outrageous - “I will do it for $5,000.”

What happened? They said, “okay, sure”.

Then he did something truly extraordinary, something that I would never have considered. He said, “Okay, so half hour for $5,000 - great.” even though he knew very well they wanted an hour, he thought - well if they agreed that quickly then I asked for too little! So he doubled his money in one sentence because they quickly agreed. This meant of course, that once again, he had asked for too little!

I have taken jobs speaking for zero money, discounted my worth for every client, and only five years later have I dared to stand by a price and say no to jobs that were not willing to pay me my worth.

Learning to communicate effectively is just the beginning; standing by your value and worth is quite another.

Top three issues

1. You are not used to asking to be paid

If you come from the corporate world, then this is a really difficult one to consider. We always paid; whether you worked that day or not, you always got paid! Now you have to ask for pay. Eek.

Have you ever had to discuss money? I still hate it. Feels like begging. We could explore all the different routes I took to that illogical assumption but let’s not! The fact that I always have to justify my cost to prospective clients doesn’t help matters.

2. You are not used to understanding your value

We always calculated our value as what a corporate was willing to pay us day to day. Having to calculate not only the hours you are working but the preparatory hours, the experience you bring to the table feels unnatural.

Working with clients who don’t understand every meeting you take that is unpaid means you are not able to work on paid work, and therefore you want to minimise these irrelevant - every corporate has ten a day! - meetings that result in no clear outcome, goal or move the project forward. If you know, you know.

3. You are not used to saying no