Why you should charge what you’re worth

Charging what you’re worth doesn’t just achieve the obvious goal of helping you make a decent living. It also helps your peers in similar professions. I moved to a new town a few years ago and followed the link on a website to find out who built it. It was a great looking website, and I wanted to find out about other talented web designers in the area to see what I was up against. It looked to be a young guy, and he was really talented. Then I looked at his pricing. He was practically giving his websites away! Holy crap, I thought. That’s terrible for me.

I sent the guy an email to tell him how talented I thought he was… and that he needed to charge more because he was ruining it for the rest of us. If people think that a fantastic website is worth so little, they will be unwilling to pay anyone else in the area to build one.

One of the most important things about being in a creative career is knowing how good you are. Some people start out really rough around the edges. It’s appropriate for them to charge less. But if you look at the work of other people in your field who are in major cities, and you feel your work is on par with theirs, then you should charge appropriately.

When I started building websites, I researched other web designers in my city. I found the ones who were talented, and I looked at their pricing. I did not need to be the most expensive, and I certainly didn’t want to be the cheapest. So I picked an average number and went with it. Over the next several years, after realizing what it really takes to do my job, I raised my prices several times. This also reflected my additional experience and improved skills.

Do you know what you will get if you are the cheapest priced in your field but are actually very talented? All the shitty clients who don’t value what you do. The nit-pickiest, most annoying, time-wasting clients that are out there. You will lose money left and right trying to please these people, most of whom don’t even know what they want – they just want you to do it cheaply.

But I digress. I know, you’re a modest person. You have a hard time valuing your work. Here’s a suggestion: ask a friend to help you. Someone who’s honest. Have them compare your work to some others in your field to help you decide an appropriate price for your work. Tell them how much time you think goes into doing what you do. Consider your education and years of experience.

While you’re at it, have your friend help you draw up a contract that you can use when someone engages you to work for them. You can probably find a sample online. That way, the terms of your work are set out so that if the client wastes your time on something not covered in your initial agreement, you can say, “No problem. I’ll add that to your invoice.” (Use this especially with friends and family because it’s harder to set boundaries with them.)

Always get a deposit. You are not a charity. You deserve to be compensated. If you do not value your work, your client will not either. Your client will not value your time unless you demand that it be valued. The saying goes that you get what you allow. Do not feel hurt or confused or resentful when someone takes advantage of your inability to set rules about your pricing and policies. Your actions give them a signal about how they can behave. Think about it.

[bctt tweet=”There is nothing evil or unfair about charging a legitimate price for your artistic skills.”]

There is nothing evil or unfair about charging a legitimate price for your artistic skills. Many people think creatives sit at home all day eating bonbons, drinking coffee and having existential crises, but we are actually highly skilled artists who have an eye for things that others don’t. That’s why they hire us.

Know what you’re worth. Charge what you’re worth. Demand that your clients value your time.

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