This attitude, when interpreted literally, is likely to hold you back as a freelancer.
This post by Davy Greenberg resonated throughout freelance and solopreneur social media profiles last month.
This same concept applies to less artistic experts too, like locksmiths, computer experts, and mechanics.
As a freelance medical writer, I'm interested in improving the professionalism and prestige of our industry. I use wellness to get entrepreneurs to feel great and work better.
Our mindset translates into whether we treat ourselves well. So I'd like to offer a less popular perspective on this tweet by addressing the two underlying questions:
- How should I price my freelance services?
- How do I get clients to pay what my service is worth?
no one in the freelance world cares about your years of experience; they only want to know if you can get the job done.
While Mr. Greenberg didn't mean to speak on behalf of entrepreneurs everywhere, in my opinion, this tweet inappropriately addresses the prospect with "you owe me," in a pre-agreement phase.
One key word change, from "owe" to "pay," makes a massive difference.
Culture persistently undervalues the work of creative entrepreneurs. The "starving artist" is a stock character in movies, and when someone says, "I'm a writer," we're likely to think they moonlight doing a service job for tips.
Diligent artists, naturally including writers, invest years into developing their unique style.
At the same time, the nature of entrepreneurship does not owe. You do not get paid for your seniority, but instead for your ability to solve clients' problems.
This isn't all bad. After all, it's the low barrier of entry that makes it easy to start freelancing. It's the basics of business- get hired to help someone solve their problems. When starting out, you have tremendous leeway to "fake it until you make it" (it's the only way to start, really). And as long as you can produce a serviceable product on schedule, you gain the experience you need by experiencing.
First hand examples:
- My website has thousands of views, but my cool, high-tech pop up resume form has only been viewed 186 times (mostly by me).
- No one asks which personal training certifications I've earned.
This tweet is most useful as an underlying understanding: You are not "owed." You are not entitled. Your competence and professionalism are prerequisite to securing work, and the value of your services is negotiated exclusively between you and your payor.
Sometimes, you may feel the urge to justify the cost of your services like this. Don't. Use it to set your own standard for a starting negotiation point.
Several challenges can remind you of this tweet.
Two key things that may have gone wrong, and how to fix them:
1) You are marketing to/seeking cheap clients.
Some prospects will always haggle on price, maybe even causing a bidding war and race to the bottom on price (Upwork!). These prospects are usually prioritizing cost over value. Do you really want to put in more effort for a prospect who is trying to pay you less?
Find and attract qualified prospects who value your services similarly to you. Continue building your portfolio and content marketing!
Even qualified prospects will have some sticker shock at a competitively priced service. However, you will lose most prospects if you're using your experience as an entitlement instead of a source of confidence.
2) You haven't taught your prospect the value of your work.
Everyone has written something, so some see it as something anyone can do. Pros know this is dumb. Everyone has played basketball, but that doesn't mean you belong on the floor at an NBA game.
Good writing is more than a single set of paragraphs on a screen or page. It's a craft with years of study and practice, learning to concisely articulate ideas that connect with the audience.
Writing is also a complete service. Your client either has no idea the amount of researching, re-organizing, and editing goes into creating a final product, or they do and they would prefer to have someone else do it for them!
However, it is your responsibility to know your investment in your services
Sell your work as an experience. Customer service, skills, and the "wow factor" make the difference between frozen noodles and a hibachi /teppanyaki restaurant for your birthday. Charge a rate that you get excited about, and deliver your experience with so much "wow" that your client feels they're getting a great deal. Everybody wins!
This discussion leads to value-based pricing- instead of trying to justify your price at per hour or word rates, you charge the value of the solution you provide. It's fun to get paid what your work is worth!
A big factor in how you get paid is how you feel about yourself
Confidence is an effect of self-esteem and understanding you are valuable, independently of the value you provide to others and clients.
We have too many ways to self-sabotage- from feeling we're entitled, to teaching ourselves we are not worth the investment of time, energy, and money into our self-care, nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, etc. Break these habits and build confidence with better health choices!
I will help you build habits and confidence to seek the clients and pay you want with online personal training. That way you feel great and work better. Get the free guide below!