I recently got a job offer from a friend of a friend. I’m just starting out in my full-time freelance career (I’m a website developer/designer) and was warned that her non-profit had a limited budget. Naturally I assumed that the lower the quote the better and that this contract would lead to bigger and better jobs. So I quoted a low hourly rate, and eventually received a response that they had gone with another developer. The friend of a friend also proceeded to tell me (confidentially of course.. well, until now!) that I was rejected because my quote was too low, and judging by my work I should have charged a lot more. This made her company uneasy, and the person they went with was now being paid 3x as much as my offer. Imagine that! She also said something along the lines of “Don’t put yourself on sale. Always ask for what you are worth.” Through my bruised ego I responded with “Thanks for the advice. Good luck in the future.” but after a few hours of thinking I realized that what I really meant to say was “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I AM worth more! This has been the problem all along!”
One thing that I have steadily done in my professional career is work for cheap. I fell into a job making peanuts and stayed there for way too long although I knew I could do better. I never tried harder, and I most certainly never stood up for myself. Why? I think that most of us are raised with a poverty mentality. We think that cheaper always wins. We think that if we tough it out and pay our dues, one day we will be worth more. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. People equate dollars with quality – the higher the price the better the product. If you cheapen your value, whether it be your wages, your self esteem, or your relationship choices, people will consider you to have less value than the next person that holds themself in high regard.
When you put yourself on sale, the only person you are cheating is yourself. I realize now that if I keep working for cheap, and accepting any job just because they will take me, I will never lead the happy life that I deserve. When you don’t believe in your worth some serious problems arise in your life.
You don’t work your hardest
I’ve always been in the habit of working just hard enough to get by. Nobody was paying me or encouraging me enough to work harder. Now I realize that I was doing it in reverse. You have to work hard and be passionate, then you will know what your worth is and money and encouragement will follow suit. Your work, yourself and your relationships become a standard, and you naturally will not stand for anything that doesn’t reach that standard.
You attract the wrong people
Story. of. my. life. I always seem to end up with clients that are flaky, have no idea what they want, have unrealistic goals, or do not know how to communicate effectively. Do you think that this has something to do with the low, low price I charge? Probably. If these people were seriously committed they would shell out the dough to ensure they get quality work done by a quality professional – who charges what they are worth. This also applies to relationships – if you don’t think much of yourself you will attract people that like to dominate those that don’t think much of themselves. Its amazing how the more confident you become, the more confidence you are given by the situations you find yourself in.
You send the wrong message
When you put yourself on sale you silently tell those that you are dealing with that your work is not any good. This is probably not true. You send the message of being unsure, and diffident. You wordlessly tell people that you don’t believe in yourself and THAT, my friends, is never ,ever a good thing. If you respect yourself you will respect your work, your relationships and your life. This will project the message of confidence, and everyone wins!
So I’d like to thank my friend of a friend for giving the unsolicited advice, because that job rejection was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that I have paid it forward by posting this to help those of you that may need it!