A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a unique position: Someone who wanted to work with me asked me to justify my worth.
This was the first time this had ever happened to me – I’d never been asked to justify the fees that I charge. And the thing is, I was perfectly confident about doing so. Had I been asked three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have known what on earth to say or how to respond.
The confidence I have in my ability to produce great content – and to do it professionally – is something that every now and then surprises me (in a really good way).
I’ve learnt through bitter experience that for a long time I totally underestimated my worth. Yet this doesn’t apply to just my blogging career, but to many of the jobs I had that led up to me going full time as a professional blogger.
And it’s something that I think too many of us do. It’s even worse when we consider than women are still being paid less than men for doing the same jobs in many industries.
Being asked to justify my worth
So what happened?
I was contacted by a PR person who wanted me to get on board with a particular campaign she was running for a brand. (It doesn’t matter what the campaign or the brand were, it’s not relevant.) She outlined the project and asked for fees, which I gave her.
I listed the fees that I’m currently being paid by other brands for equivalent work, so I knew for a fact that those fees were what I’m worth (to a brand).
Here’s the rub: She replied asking me to explain why I’m charging so much more than my contemporaries. I explained things that she should really have known already (if she’d done her research) about my stats, successes with other campaigns, my UK Blog Awards win, etc.
I was curtly told “I think you’ve misunderstood my request, I understand how and why you might decide on pricing. I need to demonstrate to the client why you’d be worth the additional spend, what do you bring to a campaign that no one else can?”
(I’m so glad I thought of saying this, because it’s true…)
I said perhaps it’s not that I’m overcharging, maybe it’s that the other influencers are not charging enough. This is something that all too often is not the first thing that PRs think of. Blogging is a very, very new profession, after all, and bloggers are generally in the dark about what to charge companies (usually not enough).
I very politely declined to go any further with the campaign and stopped short of telling her what I thought of her asking me to do her job for her (it’s HER job to pitch me to the client and justify why I’m worth what I charge… She found and approached me, after all).
How I calculate what fees to charge
I’m lucky compared to a lot of bloggers: I’ve had an agent who helped me see what I was worth by quoting on my behalf. It’s a lot easier to have the confidence in yourself when someone else is doing the negotiating.
What do I charge? I charge what brands are willing to pay me.
In IFB’s recent article 5 reasons to walk away from a blog sponsorship, they explained it this way:
“If your rate is X, and you’ve never sold a service for that price, then maybe your rates are too high. Experiment to find a rate you are comfortable with that brands feel comfortable investing in as well. If your rate is X, and you are selling it more than you have time to do a great job on it, then your rate is too low, and you should raise it. There are no “set” rates for anything.”
In other words, the way to know whether what you charge for your services – and this applies to ANYONE who charges fees for a service or products – is by putting up your prices. If everyone happily pays you those fees, then you’re still charging too little. If no one pays you those fees, you’re charging too much.
What you want are Goldilocks rates: Rates that some people can afford and happily pay but that are too high for others. This is the way you stay in high demand – those that can’t afford you but are desperate to work with you or hire you for your services will look for some way to be able to pay you what you’re worth.
I strongly believe that too many of us are afraid of charging what we’re worth. I did, many times: when I look back on what I was charging brands in the early days I could kick myself for charging too little – I know because they accepted my rates far too readily. I was afraid of putting them off, afraid of them thinking I was too big for my boots.
I know better now and have no qualms about quoting my fees and knowing they may (or may not!) be able to afford me.
Find out your worth
So whatever you do in life – whether you are self-employed, an employee, a freelancer, someone who bakes cakes for friends and family or walk dogs now and then for some extra cash – make sure you don’t underestimate your worth. If you find that people are all too happy to pay you what you charge them, put your prices up at the end of the year. Those that can’t afford you won’t be able to pay. But you’ll be making more money by having put up your prices, but your workload is less.
(Obviously I’m talking from a purely business point of view… I’m not suggesting you go ripping off old ladies whose dogs you walk to help them out!)
If you’re an employee ask yourself if you’re being paid what you’re truly worth. Have you found out if there is equal pay amongst the male and female colleagues in your company? This is a hot topic right now, so be brave and just ASK.
If you’re a blogger, ask others what they charge. If they won’t help you, find someone who will.
If you’re told you’re too expensive…
I think it surprises a lot of people that there ARE bloggers out there who turn down paid projects. Yes, it can be hard to keep saying no to a brand that offers you 25% of what you quoted or what you’d originally agreed upon (as has happened to me – and more than once or twice) if you really need the money. I regularly say no to paid projects because they either don’t fit my brand or they can’t afford me.
But, like brands who don’t “do” sales or give discount codes, you could be harming your brand or your long-term earning power if you constantly accept less than what you’re worth. (Don’t forget, if just one brand is willing to pay you what you’ve quoted, that’s your worth.)
“IT’S NOT ABOUT RACING TO THE BOTTOM ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE. IT’S ABOUT KNOWING YOUR VALUE”
Can you imagine the harm discount codes would do to a brand like Chanel? You never see big sale signs in designer stores because it would do their brand more harm than good to suddenly drop their prices. Consumers would no longer see them as a luxury brand – they’d become a discount brand.
Going back to the Goldilocks rates… think how many women save up for a Chanel handbag. I said “those that can’t afford you but are desperate to work with you or hire you for your services will look for some way to be able to pay you what you’re worth”. Chanel handbags ARE worth it to some women. So they (hypothetically) beg, borrow and steal to be able to afford to buy one.
Chanel don’t drop their prices – those who want a Chanel handbag find a way to afford one.
As this excellent article about how to reply if a customer says your product or service is too expensive explains: “It’s not about racing to the bottom along with everyone else. It’s about knowing your value, understanding what you’re really selling, and being able to effectively communicate that value in a way that puts your cost into perspective.”
I gladly gave up that campaign offered to me by that jobsworth PR even though she may have accepted my fees in the end. But if she couldn’t already see that I was worth what I was charging, then that wasn’t the campaign for me.
If you think about it, that thought process can be applied to an awful lot more in life than just monetary worth. Know your worth in every aspect of your lives, ladies. You deserve every bit of it.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR WORTH – OR ARE YOU STILL FIGURING IT OUT? DO PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYONE IN THE COMMENTS… WE NEED TO HEAR EACH OTHER’S STORIES 🙂
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