I asked many of my favorite freelancers to tell me how their professional confidence grew. Katrina Ramser-Parrish, a friend of this blog and of this blogger, shared the following:
For me, my professional confidence grew when I said 'no' to a particular freelance job offering payment far less than what I felt was acceptable or what I was looking for. It was a very nerve-wracking, face-to-face situation with about four employees from the owner to the head editor (and just one of me).
When the team dropped the price for the long-term assignment they had just spent an hour describing to me, I countered with a number that doubled the amount. Complete radio silence followed. They stared at me like I had horns growing out of my head. Instead of recoiling or stammering -- my former negotiating behaviors -- I realized something wonderful:
We both had different ideas about my worth. And that is was nothing to be embarrassed about. Or that anyone had the right to convince me of different or make me feel bad because I wanted more.
I really needed that job, too! But it set the bar for me and I went on to land great assignments with great clients at the price I wanted. It is nothing for me now to say 'no' -- it just means a match isn't there.
Sounds easier said than done, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be.
The point is that your professional confidence can only grow in accordance with how much you believe your work is worth. When I started freelancing, I was earning 15 cents a word on publication and was happy to have it. But if I had stayed there, I wouldn't be happy or confident in my work now. It was taking the risk to query a $1/word publication (then a $1.50/word and then a $2/word publication) that built my professional confidence.
Having work builds confidence--but not if you're shortchanging yourself. It becomes an unpleasant negative feedback loop: You work for less, you feel more hurried, you do sloppier work, you feel worse about it. And when you get the check, you feel even more discouraged.
The good news is you have the power to interrupt that cycle at any time. You have the power. Take it.
Photo by bigburpsx3.