One problem I faced when I first started in business for myself (and still struggle with), and that most new freelancers and consultants face, is charging less than they are worth for their products and services.

Why is asking for what we’re worth so difficult? The answer, I believe is rooted very deep in our psyche. Setting a price is essentially setting a value for your worth. The fear that someone may think that we are not “worth” a set amount can be a deep blow to our self-esteem – if we allow it.

But now we’re moving into 2008. It’s a new year and it’s time for a new mindset. Even if you feel you’re getting what you’re worth, if you’re not completely satisfied with where you’re at now, I challenge you to push further.

Why You Need to Get What You’re Worth

In my opinion, you live this life that you’ve got exactly ONE time. That’s it. And because this is the only life you will ever get, you may as well get the most out of it. When there is an imbalance between what we feel you are worth and what we are actually getting, there exists a constant, nagging, unsettling burden.

When you wake up each day and you feel a synergy between the value you are providing and the compensation you are receiving, you can go through the day clear minded and free of resentment.

Why Do We Allow Ourselves to Charge Less Than We’re Worth?

I think there are several reasons for this:

  • An inner struggle with issues of feeling worthless or valueless in their early life and never choose to free themselves from these issues though they have complete power to do so.
  • If you came from a family that was struggling financially, you may not believe that you truly deserve more and that by asking for what you feel you are worth, you are somehow a sham. But other people are asking more for the same services you provide – why shouldn’t you?
  • Charging more for services may mean dealing with a level of clientele that you’re not confident about dealing with. Many small businesses and freelancers are charging small business rates to provide excellent service for broke small businesses when they could very easily provide the same quality of service to large corporations and charge a corporate rate. The reason they stick with the small business client is because this is who they feel comfortable with. Why not step out of your comfort zone a bit? Other people are doing it, why not you?
  • Maybe you think there is something “lesser” about yourself than the rock stars in your industry – wrongly thinking that the other guy possesses something that you don’t. This not always the case. I’ve known several people who would be considered “rock stars” in their respective industries, and they are typically just more self-confident and skilled at self-promotion than the majority.

Action Plan:

Make a concerted effort to disassociate yourself with any preconceived ideas you may have about your worth or value by doing exercises to increase self-confidence. Get comfortable with groups outside of your comfort zone. Learn to be a powerful self-promoter by reverse engineering that things that are working for the top dogs in your industry.

How Do You Know What You’re Worth?

Oftentimes WE are the last people to know what WE are worth. The reason is that we do not decide what our value to other is – they do.

I found this out once when I still thought of myself as having a $40 per hour value. Then a colleague of mine wrote to me as asked me if they could offer my copy consulting as part of their package and bill me out at $150, allowing them to keep $50 while I kept $100. With that one email, the mindset I had of my value increased nearly four-fold.

I had worked with this person many times and he knew my abilities. Though I didn’t realize it, he could clearly see that the consultation I was providing to clients was making their businesses a large amount of profit and absolutely worth the small price of $150 dollars. Many times, others have a clearer picture of your worth than you do.

Design can work the same way. If a professionally designed e-commerce site will sell 3 times as much inventory as a one with a stock template, then the value of that design far exceeds the number of hours spent creating it.

Case in point, do you think a company would pay $30,000 per month for a copywriter? Here’s an excerpt from an article by Anne Holland published on Chief Marketer:

StomperNet’s Fallon hired one at a cost of $30,000 a month but said the ROI was obvious given the $12 million in sales the move helped generate.

This example brings about an important point. The copywriter in this example clearly did not set his or her value based on an hourly rate, but by the value the customer would receive from the services provided.

Action Plan:

Before a potential client can ask you, “how much do you charge for xyz?” Ask them instead, “what would it be worth to you if I could triple your sales in 3 months” or “what would it be worth to you if I could get you 500 new subscribers?”

In order to pose this sort of question, you’ve got to be able to quantify your results. If you’ve been providing services to clients and never following up on the outcomes, perhaps its time to go back and ask how your work has impacted them so that you can begin to get an estimate of your value.

It’s possible that you may not want to know how your work has impacted past clients. What if it didn’t? This is completely possible because if you’ve been working with an hourly mindset, you were probably more concerned with getting paid for the work you were contracted for than you were about their bottom line. If this is the case, now is the time to start thinking more about your worth in terms of value and less about your value per hour when going into projects.

Taking Your Effectiveness to the Next Level

In order for your work to become more effective, you’ll need to continue to refine your skill. Though the largest obstacle of getting what you’re worth is getting over the hourly mindset we’ve learned through years of working as an employee, the effectiveness your work provides is certainly a driving factor.

You don’t need to take years to develop your skills to a “master” level before asking for what you’re worth. There is always someone willing to pay for every level of expertise. The important thing is that we don’t get stuck at one perceived value and then never evolve.
Maybe you feel as if you need to completely change industries to provide more value but are afraid of uncharted waters.

One programmer former .Net programmer that I know was bored to insanity with his current career and continued to lose jobs as people outsourced more to other countries. He decided to learn a new programming language that he knew nothing about and paid an expert $150 per hour for training. He was not rolling in dough when he did this. In fact, he had to scrape by in order to pay for this training. After 10 hours of training and 8 months of self-taught learning and lots of hands-on practice, he is now ranked among the top 100 programmers in that niche and charging $100 per hour for his services. (I’m sure there are other programmers that are just as good as he is who are making, but his extreme level of confidence and knack of self-promotion set him apart from the rest.)

If you want to learn how to build a more popular blog, or write more effective copy, create better landing pages, or optimize websites you can find lots of information online for free. However, the personalized attention you can receive from talking with an expert in a one-on-one consulting setting about your particular situation can be monumentally more effective than any one-way information you can find online.

Action Plan:

If you feel that you need more training in order to deliver better results, seek out a mentor help you take your skill to the next level or pay an expert for one-on-one consulting. This is probably some of the best money you’ll ever invest in yourself.

Summing Things Up

  • Decide that you deserve to have everything you want in life
  • Disassociate your work value with your value as a human being
  • Take action to rid yourself of any preconceived ideas you may have about your worth or value
  • Start thinking in terms of value provided to the customer rather than the value of your own time
  • Begin quantifying the dollar value or personal value that your services are generating for others
  • Continuously find ways to hone your skills by learning from experts, practicing, and experimenting

Your Turn

What challenges have you struggled with in terms of finding or realizing your worth? Have you overcome this challenge? How did you do it? Start the discussion below!

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