So one of the big questions freelancers must ask themselves is what exactly are our services worth? The answer is whatever you can get. Now the whole figuring out exactly what you are worth aspect is an article in of itself, but what I’m more interested in doing today is the cautionary tale of what to charge. Finding the sweet spot is a bit of trial and error. This post is about why we shouldn’t aim low on our price point.
What may shock a person reading this is that the reason for a higher price point is not because of trying to make as much money as possible…mostly. In truth, your price point is more about protecting you than it is about the living you make. Nothing should make a writer scarier than a minimum wage job.
We Do Not Respect Those Who Serve
If you’ve ever had a fast food job, you know how difficult that job really is. You have to be quick, customers are demanding, middle management even more so. It’s a constant grind. Then it’s over. Those people who handle the food and serve thousands are paid pennies.
Do you respect them?
If the answer is no, it’s because of only one thing. The pay check. Before I continue, I would like to say, you definitely should. They work hard. A job is a job after all.
The pay check in this world is about respect. It’s not the purchasing power, rather it’s what you have access to as a result of what you do. When you freelance, it too is about respect. People that pay you very little, respects little. People that pay the world, have much higher respect for the people they pay for.
The difference? Respect and Understanding. I had a client that wanted me to work on advertising their Kickstarter. I agreed, because it seemed like a heck of a challenge. I had ideas, and all I was waiting for was the full list of active creatives on the project, and a date when the Kickstarter was going to be launched. I never got anything concrete with either of those things, which made my job impossible to do. Kickstarter campaigns work best when there are weeks of advertisement mentioned. Without key information, I couldn’t advertise the Kickstarter as much as I wanted to, and I couldn’t help build a stretch goal outline I wanted because I didn’t have a complete list of people involved.
After I fired that individual (I was unable to do my job, so why keep it?) I asked myself why did the job go south. I certainly wasn’t completely innocent. But from the things that weren’t in my control, it boiled down to price point. It was too low. My client did not respect my time, and my energy the way it needed to be in order for me to do the job the way I needed to. I didn’t have a have enough price to make my client take this seriously.
It’s because of this client that I will not under any circumstances do anything for a percentage. Unless the principals involved have a very impressive track record of being very large dividends at the end of the job, you should not take it under most other circumstances. A good lesson.
Price point equals respect. Remember the minimum wage job and how you treat that worker at the restaurant, because that’s how you will be treated too.
If I was to paint a reason why people resented their jobs, it’s because people feel underpaid and undervalued. Unless you throw so much time into some of these jobs that you cannot enjoy life, they tend to suck you dry. I mention fast food, but I could indict the whole labor force. Almost to a man and woman people are not being paid what they are worth.
In fact, we damned ourselves even further. We made our minimum wage jobs essential in this time. Instead of a permanently increased wage scale, instead we praise them like heroes. Talk about even further devaluing our workforce. We now expect them to work for the same money during a pandemic as we did when there wasn’t. Teachers in particular I feel for in this time. Based on how I described above, do you feel in the long run any of these jobs will be respected?
As a culture, Western civilization does not know how to treat heroes. Look at policemen. They were heroes at 9/11. Look at veterans. Many people that serve are not rewarded like they should. It’s one of the greatest injustices of the world.
I’ll be damned if I let that happen with my creative endeavors. I got out of the workforce because it was unbearable. I have no desire to go back and deal with these kinds of environments. I’m worth more than that and I love what I do.
Why would I risk that love becoming resentment by settling? Fuck that. If I know the person I’m dealing with doesn’t appreciate me, I’m charging more. I’m not going to resent any job I do. Ever.
Believe in Yourself
The one consequence to being a freelancer is that now there are some things I will not do for free at all anymore, or at the very least not as often. Many people I know come to me for podcast advice. I have no problem giving a little bit, but now I measure my time. If someone really wants to pick my brain on how that works, they can pay for it.
I have to believe that my expertise is worth something. I have to believe that I’m going to do well at this. I have to believe I’m worth it. That might be the hardest thing about being a freelancer. The biggest mental battle we have as people is recognizing our own worth. We have to protect it, and ourselves.
The best way to do it is faith. You have to believe in yourself and be willing to fight for it. Sometimes that means walking away. Sometimes it’s going to hurt in the moment. But this is a battle to turn what you love into something to make a living. You have to be willing to take a stand. If you do, you can find the money out there. It really is real.
Is there a time to do something for free? Yes. Maybe the first job. If you want to establish some credibility and credentials, go do that. After, you never do it for free again. Instead, figure out what it will cost for you to respect yourself, and not resent doing the job yourself.
Thanks for reading. If you have a second, check out the premier of Season 2 of Suzy Vadori’s inspired writing. Give her a like and subscribe while you’re there. Suzy gives great advice on the craft of writing. Check out her work below.
If you like that, and want me to do more, check out my Podcast Services page.
Next week, a cool cover. Until then, remember, you’re worth it. Go out there and get it.