Do you get the feeling that you’re out of your depth sometimes? You look around the virtual or actual room you’re in, and you feel absolutely certain that, in one way or another, you’re inferior to every other individual there?
Whether it’s financial, personal, professional or interrelational, the concept of value – your worth in the form of time spent or energy invested in something – is often a tricky one. It’s also one you should reconcile with, especially when you’re offering up a service or product with a concrete price tag.
What does price represent, anyway?
You’ll have to forgive me for getting philosophical. But when was the last time you stopped and actually looked at a price? Your own price, someone else’s price, the market price. Examined their ins and outs – not to mention their whys? We deal with pricing all the time and yet the fact that it’s a direct representation of your value as a professional is oftentimes overlooked.
Why do you charge what you charge? Is it because of your degree? Your experience? Your skillset?
My main challenge with pricing, I’ve recently discovered, has been that I’ve been shying away from the correlation between the price tag I put on my services and the value I place on my work.
It’s easy to reduce our professional selves to a level where we don’t even know if we should be charging anything at all. We compare ourselves to all the other people in that room, and shrink inch by inch as a result.
‘I can’t possibly be in the right place. She’s done this; he’s done that. Surely, my skill set doesn’t come anywhere near theirs.’
Society tells us we should be paid for our work, sure, but defining your value is so much more than that. It’s about owning all the components that make you the professional you are – and putting a price on that whole.
Below are some tips on how I work to define and emulate value.
Define your value as a professional
- Write a list of all the education you have (that’s relevant to your work today) – single coursework, degrees, certifications.
- Write a list of all the professional qualifications you have (again, that are relevant) – coaching you’ve undertaken, workshops you’ve attended successfully, training courses and similar.
- Write a list of all your experiences that you can use – your portfolio pieces, your ghost work, your credited work, and work you’ve done pro bono.
- Write a list of the things you’re just good at. The things you do – and do well – for the people who work with you.
This final list is arguably your most important one, because it actually solidifies your price tag in the context of your value. ‘I’m good at this. That adds to my value, and therefore to my price.’
Emulate your value as a professional
- Practice saying your price out loud. ‘I charge (x) dollars per hour. My service costs (x) dollars.’ Say it out loud to yourself, to friends, and to other professionals.
- Inform people of your value (ie, all the four lists above) first, price second. ‘I have a Master’s degree in Engineering, and I’ve worked on these three long-term projects, so I charge $150 per hour for my work.’
- Join discussions around value and pricing on social media platforms. Let people know that your value as a professional should always inform price.
Do you have a story about defining your value as a professional that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment below – or write me directly at email@example.com.