Know Your Worth
Know your worth is a phrase echoed time and time again. The self-professed life coaches, online gurus, and inspirational leaders love to say it. But ask them “how?” and allow the symphony of crickets to wash over you. This phrase is used as a substitution for be confident, and confidence is something that can simply be manifested by believing in oneself. Knowing your worth, however, requires something tangible – an understanding of value. Value is a much more complex concept.
What if you were hiring you?
In order to understand value, we need to understand that value is relative. It’s an ambiguous concept that doesn’t always have a definitive metric. Am I valuable based on my reputation, based on the number of record sales I’ve contributed to, my accolades, or is my value based on the client’s needs, means, or perspective? It’s subjective. In order to determine our value we need some system for doing so – and I prefer a two tiered system. One in which we determine a base value, and one in which we determine what the client needs. I’ll start with the former here. Let’s get a little list going.
- Reputation – this comes from our general regards in terms of work ethic and the quality of our results. If you have a reel that is flush with examples, a list of credits, and a history of clients that consistently re-hire you, assume your reputation is strong.
- Accolades – awards that show proof of accomplishment show that your value is recognized by your field.
- Contribution to Sales – if your name is tied to records that have performed well, that is a good indicator of value. Now, these three items intersect a fair amount. However, it is very possible to have a long list of credits with very few record sales, or to have contributed to a few records that sold well but not have many other credits. Or to have both – but to have a bad reputation in terms of your professionalism. It’s important to tackle all of these items when creating a baseline value for yourself.
How much does the client need you?
From our baseline value, we can extend this idea to how much the client needs us. One of the biggest ways we stab ourselves in the back is by imaging we are replaceable. It’s true, most people can be replaced – but it’s not easy at all. Finding someone who produces excellent results with a high pedigree of professionalism takes a lot of time and effort. Most of the arts are oversaturated. But oversaturated does not mean populated by people who do a good job! Ask yourself: how many times have you gotten a gig where the client expresses disappointment in the last person they hired? And how many times has it been something ridiculous, like not responding to emails? Probably more than a few times.
Your client has a time frame, your client has goals, your client needs reliability, communication, and results.
I personally had the experience of hiring someone cheap to build WeissAdvice.com . I spent $2,000, which in retrospect was maybe red-flag-cheap for a website. The designer turned in the results in a timely manner and the communication was good, but the site didn’t really function the way I needed it to. And when I brought in an independent graphic designer the communication suddenly became hostile. That’s when it became exceedingly apparent that it was much better to pay a lot for great results than to “under pay” for something that wasn’t really good enough. The web designer I use now is not cheap, but I’m very happy with their results and communication. Anyone who has been in business long enough has likely had a similar experience (maybe multiple times). The moral of this story is that if you are capable to get a job done you have license to charge a rate that my be initially deemed as “too expensive.” It’s also much easier to negotiate down for a project with a limited budget than it is to negotiate up because the project has a large scope of work.
Your field is oversaturated, but not by people who are good!
If you spend time building up a strong reel, great results, getting your name around, and consistently putting forth solid communication you are no longer just another person “doing it.” To quote LL Cool J: You are doing it, and doing it, and doing it well.
There is the unfortunate truth that just because you are worth something doesn’t mean your potential client can pay it. This is where discretion comes in. There are mitigating factors that can lower your price quotes. But understand, your price quote and your actual worth are not the same.
What does your current docket look like? – If you aren’t heavily booked, it may be worth lowering rates to draw in more business.
How much do you want the project? – Some projects are just great to be a part of. If it’s something that will show you off, consider negotiating for more backend.
What is the ENTIRE scope of the project? – Investigate how much work a project really entails, some are simpler than expected, some are more complex. Some clients are also very easy to work with, and others… not so much. Adjust accordingly.
If you are going to lower your rates for any reason, make sure you invoice appropriately. If you check out the INVOICE in the DOWNLOAD SECTION of your WeissAdvice Membership, you will notice there is a place to put your rate AND a place to put an adjustment. It’s important to make sure you put your actual rate with the actual total you would normally charge for the work being done, and then indicate how much you’re reduced your rate for the client. This establishes that what you are charging, in this instance, is less than what you are worth.