Are you holding your pay back?

If you're self-employed and are sitting on the same flat rate of pay that you know, honestly, is not where you should be, 2016 is the time to change it.

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With and increasing number of women entering the self-employed business world, it’s common for people to take on contract work and also freelance, or as they say in the design community, “moonlight”, to build-up experience or earn a little extra cash on the side.
These forms of work, particularly freelance can often be attractive because they afford us the freedom to balance work and play.

But the problem with being self employed lies in that most people who do it, don’t negotiate or ask for pay the same way they would were they applying for a full-time role. Nor, from my experience, are fellow freelancers very forthcoming when it comes to sharing their rates making it all the more difficult to establish a ballpark hourly figure.

It all boils down to an attitude of fear: the fear of being harpooned out of work due to non-competitive pricing. Indeed research from Yale and the University of Texas shows that this is something women are particularly bad at and we often decide to stay quiet out of fear.

Yet, if you’re like my younger self, this fear could actually be doing you more damage than good.

Allow me to share my experience.

Many years ago, I worked at a creative agency and was accidently copied in on an invoice to a client which listed the hourly rate I was charged out at $390 per hourly, yet my take home rate was $41. I was devastated.
Surely the cost of powering up my computer and switching on the light above my head didn’t cost $349 per hour?

In the end, I left that workplace with a chink in the armour, moved onto the next workplace and filed the former rate in my memory bank, under a very big rock, which was hidden from view, by a tree.

It wasn’t until years later, and married with two children, that the issue again raised it’s ugly head.

My husband commented that my hourly rate had stagnated for years, despite indexation, despite interest rate rises, despite superannuation rises, and despite the increase in my skill level. He also pointed out that I was accepting less where others were asking for more and perhaps it was time to do something about it.

Here I was creating campaigns that would achieve multi-million dollar targets for clients, yet I hadn’t the gumption to address my very own rate of pay because I was scared.

I had to do something about it.

It was a change that required a real mental shift. To me, freelance had been casual and noncommittal – a hobby, yet what I actually needed to remind myself was that I was self-employed and that was serious.

Viewing myself as self-employed as opposed to foot-loose, fancy and free(-lance) gave me a renewed perspective on the rate that I demanded and it breathed a new level of confidence into not only my work but my business relationships.

Sending out that first appropriately valued quote was a lump-in-the-throat, nerve-racking moment. But, it was incredibly self-assuring and dignifying when the client accepted.

Proving that if you do your research on your rates and you have a solid business case to support your request, you can be valued accordingly but you must also appropriately value yourself first.
Nowdays, I speak to my clients upfront and with confidence with regard to my rates.

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