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I’ve Paid My Dues, Now Pay Me What I’m Worth

Prospect: “I love your portfolio. What’s your rate?”

Freelancer: “My retainer rate is $2000 per month.”

Prospect: “How about we make it $1200 and call it even?”

Freelancer: “Okay.”

Huh? Does it surprise you that female freelancers often accept lower rates than their male counterparts who provide the same services? Well, it’s true. And, it’s not just a problem in the United States. A 2016 Professional Copywriters’ Network survey, revealed a 28% gender gap between male and female freelancers in the United Kingdom. Let’s uncover one reason some of us are selling ourselves short, and then pinky swear to never let ourselves fall into this trap. We’ll focus on freelance writing here, but the same applies for all female freelancers.

The Imposter Syndrome

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ ` Maya Angelou

Women suffering from The Imposter Syndrome are intelligent, creative, and high-achievers who knowingly or unknowingly harbors self-doubt about their abilities. They allow negative self-talk and fear of being “found out” to inhibit potential success. Debra Walton, author of “Tough Love: The Choices Successful Women Need to Make,” acknowledges that as women, we sometimes “feel out of our depth” whereas men “tend to power through these moments faster” than we do. But in her article, “Imposter Syndrome: Why Do So Many Women Feel Like Frauds?,” Claire Cohen reminds us that we “don’t need to behave like men to overcome imposter syndrome.” So, if we don’t need to act like men to command higher rates, what do we need to do?

  • Understand Your Value

A freelance writer may know she deserves $0.60 per word for an article, but she may accept $0.10 because she doesn’t have enough confidence to ask what it. Freelance writer, Andrea Emerson, says that we gain confidence when we are aware of the “the tangible value” our work brings to our clients. Emerson explains that this confidence is “a byproduct of understanding your prospects — what they need and how to deliver it.” Do your research prior to bidding on a project to make sure you are able to provide measurable benefit to your client. When you’re pre-armed with your value talking points, you’ll be less likely to reduce your rates.

  • Educate Your Clients

Like you, your clients are interested in their bottom line. Demonstrate your understanding of this fact. Be able to show them that working with you should be an essential part of their business strategy. David Trounce, author of “Why Hiring a Content Writer is a Good Idea,” says that if content writing is done right, it “can provide traffic, reputation authority and revenue for many years in to the future.” To further illustrate this point Trounce says that content writers “are a part of a long-term strategy to dominate the search engines, engage site visitors and retain loyal customers.”

Emerson asserts, “content marketing generates 300 percent more sales leads than traditional marketing. Prospects with big marketing budgets know that, and also know they can’t get those kinds of results without writers. That bit of industry knowledge is a great confidence booster.” If you’re a female freelancer, regardless of the industry, be ready to educate your client on you how can directly boost their profitability. Validate your rate by shifting the focus to the specific benefits they will realize by working with you.

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My Rate is My Rate

Women have historically been predisposed to downplay their accomplishments in the workforce for fear they will be labeled as a b*tch. Society has (and still to a large part does) condition women to worry about how others perceive them rather than how they value themselves. Dianna Huff, President of Huff Industrial Marketing, Inc. and author of “Why Low Self-Worth Drives Lower Wages for Women Freelancers — and What You Can Do About It” said, “Charging what you’re worth has everything to do with your skills, your experience and the value you provide to your clients. But, before you can charge what you’re worth, you have to know what you’re worth. “Undervaluing our skills and experience is probably the biggest mistake we women make when it comes to setting our fees as consultants and freelancers,” says Huff.

If you want to command the freelance rate that you deserve, research your industry and your prospect. Understand how you can save them time and energy, and increase their bottom line. Know what you bring to the table and establish your rate based on those findings. Play fair and be ready to walk away when your expertise is not being respected. Remember you’ve paid your dues and your experience is valuable. Stick to your freelance guns and practice saying these words, “My rate is my rate.”