One of the first things I did when I ventured on my own was create a giant list of services I could offer and determine how much to charge for them.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
The work I do is all stuff I enjoy doing, which helps, but we all have to charge for our work unless rent becomes non-existent really soon.
Mostly, I determine things based on my hourly rate, and that’s something I’ve built on over the last 12 years since earning my degree. Each year, I give myself a 3% raise, just as I would get if I worked at an outside company.
Over the years, I’ve quickly learned a few things about people. I’ve learned that most people are pretty cheap and/or don’t want to pay for whatever you’re offering. I’ve also learned that it’s more difficult for people to understand paying for creative, non-tangible services.
This is where things get sticky.
As a freelancer, a contractor, a solopreneur, I have to charge what’s fair to me. What price is going to make this work worth my time and help me pay my bills, eat, and have some sort of quality life outside of work?
I also have to consider what price is fair for my client – what’s a good amount of money for the quality of work/service they will receive?
For the most part, I’ve had very little problems. And when I do have problems, that’s the red flag for me. Time to say goodbye.
The problem here, is how people deliver that news. I’ve had people tell me what I’m offering “isn’t worth” that amount of money, which is offensive and flat-out rude. If I go into a store and the product I want is out of my budget, I don’t go yell at the store manager or call the manufacturer.
I simply don’t buy it. Or I watch it online like a hawk and hope for it to go on sale.
Since stepping out on my own, I have confided in many of my friends who work for themselves or own businesses. I’m also in a few “support groups” online where we share job opportunities and tips, or simply ask for objective advice.
In one group of all women, one topic that comes up a lot is how much to charge or being afraid to pitch a number to a client that you feel is fair but not getting the job because it’s too high.
Honestly, it’s really sad. It’s one thing to fight for women getting equal pay in the workplace, but what about your contractors? It’s difficult as it is being a woman in tech – trust me, I get at least one call per week being mansplained to. I’ve even had men ask me for free work.
But some of the insults come from women, too.
I spoke about this on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago and many people reached out to me saying this has happened to them as well.
Friendly PSA: If you’re guilty of asking people for free work or cheap work, please stop. It’s rude.
Never assume people will work for free, especially when you wouldn’t. Don’t have the funds? Either put it in your dream catcher or offer to trade services.
Right now, I’m really lucky to be in a position to turn down jobs that don’t pay my rate and I simply ignore and delete emails or pitches from people that want me to work for free.
If I were at the start of my career, this would be different. Then, I did lots of work for free just to fill my portfolio and I put in lots of grueling hours to make sometimes on,y $5 here or there.
That’s not where I’m at these days.
And before I get accused of being stuck up, I should note that many of my services are offered in various price points. For example, if you can’t afford 1:1 blogging consultation with me, my course at the University of Texas is a fraction of the price for 10 hours of instruction. I also have an instructional book on blogging for sale on Amazon for less than $3.
Knowing your worth, of course, isn’t just about money and work. It’s important to know your worth as a person, a friend, a partner.
It’s taken me years to figure all of this out, and it’s why I am single, only have a handful of friends (all high-quality), and I feel that’s how my client list will shake out. I hang with the best and I work with the best.
I’m sure there are always going to be people that don’t want to pay for anything, but those just aren’t my people.