One of the things I’ve stopped doing in my freelancing work is explaining my value to people. If I need to educate someone on why professionally written content adds value to their business, I am pitching at the wrong level. I’m pitching at someone who lacks confidence in my skills, which is fine, I don’t need to be endorsed by everyone, or, as is mostly the case, they lack confidence in their understanding of their business, and I’m no business coach.
In the early days when I was shifting from amateur blog writing to professional blog writing, I told a client that I could no longer write blogs at the rate of £5-£3.15 an hour that her blog writing was adding up to. We’d come up with an excellent topic for the next one that would need half a day of research. All excitedly agreed until I broached the price. This was a full day’s work and I would need a full day’s pay.
Silence on the other end of the line before she said. “No, I don’t see the value in that.” Woah, alrighty so to this client I have a value of £3.15 an hour. That’s fine, that’s good to know. I’m outta there because I know my worth and it’s up and beyond that.
Lesson; never let others set your value
I didn’t on this occasion, but I was a little bit melancholy because I didn’t realise that the praise that had been rained down on me early on was benchmarked against a sub-minimum wage value. In retrospect, the flip side is that the client just couldn’t afford me.
Since then, I’ve noticed that when someone prods you too much about your value, they are reflecting back on their own business and their unwillingness to invest in themselves.
That said, regardless of what anyone else thinks, you’ve gotta know your value. But where do you look when everyone is trying to cut you down to their version of your value?
In a free business consultation, I was told that I must quantify my value. Maybe if I’d paid for the meeting, I’d get better advice than that, but I didn’t so the value I accorded to the entire exercise was reflected back to me in the quality. You get what you (don’t) pay for right?
Anyway, where do you find your value? Romantic as ever I believe it resides in the non-tangibles, especially as a creative.
Confidence, articulation, vision, identity, ideas, strategy, new ways of thinking about business, definition — how do you quantify these things?
I’m not talking about a tagline to put on your website or even explaining it to anyone else. You need to know it in the depths of your soul.
Put aside the humble pie, grab yourself a chair and cast your mind over the times when you’ve been most proud of your work.
If you’re a freelancer, I’m guessing that you err on the side of self-critical over massively self-deluded so allow yourself to really consider your achievements. No-one’s watching now so compliment yourself away.
What non-tangible effects have you had on people — and it doesn’t have to be clients. Tangible is okay, but it’s going to sound generic where you are looking for high-value things that only you can bring to someone with your unique set of skills.
What have people said to you in person, the excitement, the relief, the pride that you give them. Take note of this quickly because clients will soon be onto their next challenge, and the glow will fade.
Now, onto your V spot.
Quiet confidence shines from people who know their value.
It’s not something they stand up and shout about at a networking meeting; or something they write on their business card. It’s the way they smile when they talk gently about their work; it’s the way they shrug off ridiculous questions or see allies in similar businesses rather than competition.
What’s a V spot? It’s a space or a job where you are free to operate at your peak.
Where you can;
- Contribute ideas
- Develop the ideas of others
- Give and receive constructive feedback
- Work towards a shared vision without antagonism or ego
Easy right? Bah, haha. No, it’s not, and the more structured an organisation is the more obstacles to these values there are.
Try not to work in spaces where you can’t add value and do any of the above things because this can eat away at your confidence.
If you have to take a job like this to pay the bills, don’t get too emotionally involved. Giving the whole of yourself to something requires emotion and energy. Spend it well and not on projects outside of your V-spot.
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