Thursday, February 7, 2008

Serenity Tip: Knowing Your Value

Not long ago, I wrote about transfering your creative skills to your business life. But here's another good reason to cultivate your skills:

Better negotiation

The first thing Erik Sherman will tell you about negotiation is to remember the value you bring to any project. If you're a perfectionist or simply prone to negative thinking, that's not just the first step but the most important one. Here's what I mean:

When a client contacts you to do work, do you negotiate pay?
Do you know what your hourly rate should be?
Do you believe you deserve it?

I know many freelance writers who don't value their own skills enough--or at least struggle to value their own skills enough--to ask for the money they need to make their career sustainable. They may have a business plan. They may even know how much they need to earn per billable hour to make their minimum income. But without the belief that their skills matter and that they are offering something of value to their clients, they constantly feel like their clients are doing them a favor by hiring them. Without that sense of value, they can't put the rest of their plan into action.

So don't skip this step. If you're particularly prone to focusing on the parts of your work that aren't good enough, make a list of your skills, and the good things editors say about you and put it behind your computer monitor or on the wall in front of where you look most often (obviously, this should be out of view of your clients).

To help, here are some questions to ask yourself:

* What compliments do you get most often from clients?
* What skills have you fought hard to develop?
* What do you like most about your work and what energizes you?
* Are you good with deadlines?
* Do you return calls quickly?
* Are you professional--do you fess up to errors, do you double check facts, do you respond quickly to edits (if you're a writer)?
* Are you always looking for ways to improve your work? (This is a twist on "negative thinking:" if you are focused on what you didn't do perfectly the last time, you're also focusing on changing it. You don't make the same mistake twice or three times.)

These may seem like small things to you but they are of great value to your clients--and they often make the difference between hiring you and another writer. You become the go-to contractor for clients by having these skills.

So the next time you go to negotiate your price, remember the value you provide and ask for what you deserve.

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