There are certain times in life when I would prefer something to be sold short – negotiating for my car would have been an awesome time for the salesperson to sell it short. Needless to say, what I am paying in service fees since purchase, it would have certainly benefitted me for that car to be “sold short.” Or my Mac. Post-spilling an entire lavender, almond milk latte on my laptop one month prior to my college graduation, if Apple could have just taken some pity on my situation and sold it short, I would to this day be extremely grateful.
But alas, here we are and I am having the completely opposite issue of consistently avoiding “selling myself short” when it comes to the services I offer and the rate I am charging for those services. Why is it that companies continue to offer less to those individuals who can in fact offer more?
I have absolutely mulled over this – particularly at 2am when days of being turned down or negotiated for my rate weighed on me – and wonder if I had been searching in the wrong places, if this was a common issue for all freelancers/self-employed or if people underestimate the powers of having two degrees and a boatload of knowledge and ideas to offer (and I would seriously hope it is not the latter).
The more I researched and looked into this, what I would consider a problem, and the more I asked around, it was seemingly evident I was not the only person to deal with this. It appeared that smaller businesses were not outsourcing their marketing hiring as much and were making do internally, and people simply might not have the budget required to hire for marketing and branding. BUT – this poses the question I then had to ask myself – at what point do I “sell myself short?”
Simple as that – I personally, as much as it kept me up at night, negotiated that I was extremely confident in what I have to offer and believe that everything I am doing is absolutely consistent with the rate I am asking. And yes that sometimes meant losing clients or working that much harder to find projects, but I knew at the end of the day that what I was asking for was not an absurd ask – it was in fact, most reasonable to what I know I have to offer a company or brand if they trust me to reach my full potential with them.
However, I wish I had a guide or a person or something that had previously convinced me of that prior to my weeks of mind-negotiation. Which brings me to the purpose of writing this – for those individuals who have questioned their professional worth or for those companies going back and forth between hiring that freelance employee. I have listed a few ways below to avoid the bottomless sold-short-pit that can occur when building a business:
- Don’t. give. up. It is as simple as that! Part of the territory comes with cold-calls and rejection. And often, hardcore rejection at that. I found that by focusing on the positive things I had going for me – that one potential client meeting I had that went well, the launch of my website, new business cards – and being grateful to have the opportunity to build exactly what I wanted far outweighed those companies not willing to give me a chance yet.
- Give them evidence. Create a folder of all the sample work and various documents you can send them to show exactly what you can do and provide. My Mom actually just reminded me today, “people are looking for conversions.” When you do projects and create work for clients, track it. Come up with ways and guidelines for yourself that hold you accountable for tracking conversions and traffic for clients – and putting it into a format that allows you to show other potential clients the exact conversions you can provide for them, if not better.
- Network NETwork NETWORK. It can be exhausting, and that’s coming from a people-person, but I left any networking event I attended completely rejuvenated from the potential that came from each event. And find something for multiple nights a week when you are starting off. The area I live/work in has little-to-no networking groups, especially for young, female professionals. I worked hard to find groups and events and attended such a variety, but it was through the people I met at those events that I started gaining a larger clientele – and from that, referrals.
- Stand out. Figure out exactly what it is that is different and sets you apart from the rest and why clients should turn to you and trust you to assist them – and pay what you’re asking for it. This is key, because if you don’t know what sets you apart, how can you confidently tell them you deserve the rate you’re asking? It might take time and that’s okay too – but at the end of the day, you should have an angle that makes you that much different from the next.
- Be patient. This is where I lack the most. Patient that the hard work, hours, networking, money and energy you’re putting into your business will pay off. Because it will! The companies and brands that align with you will fall into place, it just takes time and experience for that to happen first. Be patient with your process and trust in what you have to offer – and the companies will trust in what you have to offer as well.
This is definitely a topic I feel so strongly about – feel free to connect with me if you have more questions or more interest in this topic, I would love to hear what you think.