At the beginning of the year, I was about to attempt a new freelance opportunity that I hadn’t done before. I was struggling with selling myself and setting prices that I would be happy with later (especially because the project was unlike any I had yet done). Do you know who gave me the greatest pep talk of all time? Revanche over at A Gai Shan Life.
The Original Pep Talk:
If you were negotiating on my behalf like my agent, what would you be proud of telling me that you’d gotten as a rate? Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together. They’re not doing you a favor, you’re providing an excellent service they want and they need to compensate you fairly or it’s not a relationship worth your time. Puff up that chest with a huge breath, let it out and calmly imagine them being THRILLED to be working with you. That’s the feeling you want to have going in and coming out, and quote them from that mindspace.
So good, right?
You Are Your Own Agent
If I was negotiating a deal for Revanche, I would be way different. I have a partial view of her awesome skillset and I wouldn’t want to pitch her an offer as her agent that wouldn’t be worth her time. Changing my mentality to being an agent changed everything. I had to evaluate what my actual skillset is. What am I better at that no one else is? (the answer is research if I do say so myself!) Why do people want to work with me? If I were an agent, what would I be happy reporting?
You know what? After this advice, I realized she was totally right. I didn’t want to do this new freelance gig for the sake of doing it. Even though I was excited about the project, a month down the road, I’d be kicking myself I got into it if I didn’t price appropriately. I figured out what I would be thrilled with, and pitched that. Now 5 months later, I am still doing it and I’m so happy I really considered it before jumping it.
Imagine They’re Thrilled to Work With You
This one is tough for me. For some reason, I’ve always demoted myself because of my stay-at-home mom status. At my real job, I assumed I was worth less because I didn’t work full time. This past year, I’ve started to realize that I actually am pretty darn good at what I do and the amount of hours I spend doing it daily has no bearing on that. In January, I was armed with Revanche’s advice and had successfully pitched myself and gotten a gig I was happy about (though it wouldn’t nearly replace my current part-time income from my real job). Then work stuff hit the fan and I thought: “No! They should be thrilled to work with me! I don’t have time for this nonsense!” so I quit! As soon as a quit, it turns out everyone WAS thrilled to work with me and they all bent over backwards to make sure I knew it.
What Relationships Are Worth Your Time?
The other tidbit in that advice that resonated with me was that it might not be a relationship worth my time. I’ve considered this a lot lately as well. I’ve been more judicious at work with accepting projects that I think are worth my time instead of just doing anything that gets sent my way. Projects that aren’t worth my time (to either myself or the company), I politely decline with a plan of action as to how it could be accomplished better (without my assistance) or a few suggestions that might turn it into a project worth my time. This has been beneficial both to the company and to me. I haven’t had as many frustrating, pointless projects to work on and the company has ended up with projects that are more useful than they started.
You Don’t Need to Sell Yourself
As Revanche said: “Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together.” Phew. I am terrible at selling myself. I know my limitations and I see them much larger than my strengths when it comes to money on the table. But this is exactly why I can sell myself. Instead of duping them into thinking I’m all that, I can honestly sell my strengths. At work, if I’m not the best fit for a project, I say it! I don’t want to work on a project that won’t either stretch my abilities or fit solidly within my strengths. If it’s something I know how to do but wouldn’t be great at, I send it along with suggestion as to who WOULD be a good fit. It’s genius!
The best circumstances under which to work are ones where I feel valued as an employee and the company or client feels like they have added an asset they didn’t have before. That’s what truly selling yourself is all about: making sure you are both getting a good value.
Now that I’ve quoted Revanche’s original pep talk and then abundantly added words to her mouth, I’ll sign off. But I hope her pep talk helps you prioritize, value your strengths, and pitch yourself like it helped me! Thanks, Revanche!