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Round table: Negotiating your worth



Background story:
New business opportunities are what keeps me going outside of my personal life. It's why I continue to work. Recently I was approached by a entrepreneur regarding some freelance work. She had read my blog and liked what she saw. We agreed to meet in-person and discuss the size and scope of the work needed. After spending 1.5 hours with her, I thoroughly liked, admired and respected all that she had accomplished in the business world. Truthfully, I was excited about the prospect of a potential partnership. And while I don't perform a ton of freelance work {yet!}; I have quite a bit of said work under my belt from my FT gig and some recent projects in the last 12 months. I felt confident and I did my research so that my pricing had room for negotiation. After all, every good sales person knows you start high so that you can always negotiate down and be at a comfortable pay structure for both you and your client.

Needless to say, I created a sample of work to share with the entrepreneur so she could see how I envisioned her brand and spoke about it. I would say it took me 2.5 hours when all was said and done. This was after my FT gig, dinner, chores and putting the baby down. However, and there's a catch, the scope of work we discussed required a minimum of 10 hours per week outside my FT job. Willing to do it - yes! Would sacrifices have to be made - absolutely and besides, it was a trial so what was the worst that could happen?

It went something like this...I was owed deliverables that I did not receive but never felt stressed to perform because I was confident in my work. Upon deadline day, I received an email from my potential client asking where my work was. No problem - just putting the finishing touches on. At this point, I felt it was in the bag...we kicked it off well and she wanted my work ASAP. I felt good. My bad! I emailed a PDF over to her and all was quiet for about 24 hours. I emailed to confirm receipt and she responded that she wanted me to send over my work in a text format so that "she could edit it as she saw fit and publish." Oh...and one other thing, not only was she demanding my work with not so much as a please or thank you...she spelled my name wrong. Pet peeve much? Come on - we were going to work together!?! Did I mention there was no compensation involved for this piece?

I called her and asked where we stood for the future and how she felt about my pricing. I was brushed off and told that sometimes you just have to do work for FREE and that she would get back to me later in the week since she had other candidates to consider that were cheaper than I. Yeah, those are called college interns. Bare in mind that I was willing, able and had vocalized that I would negotiate...heavily. Just bring something...anything to the table.

Guess what I did? Well, I was rubbed wrong. I felt we were getting off on the wrong footing and by the way, my name is spelled "Johanna". I didn't say any of this though. Instead, I wrote a short but sweet email explaining that "my instincts said this was not a good fit for either of us but thank you so much for the opportunity - best of luck in the future. Sincerely, Johanna". And I meant it.

The learning:
Knowing your self worth is so important and you can't be afraid to ask for what you deserve. After all, I was sharing my intellectual property. With all due respect to all readers of this blog, I am 34, not 20 and I did graduate as a double major from a Big Ten university with a degree in Journalism and English. I am not near perfect or writing Pulitzer's but I can write a good bit. I know this. And with almost 10 years of writing and working for my clients...I still feel confident in my skills. I know I'm not a novelist but writing I got! And so, no freelance gig but for the better, I suppose.

Your turn:
Have you been in a similar predicament where you were told you were too expensive and treated as entry level?

How did you handle it?

How do you think I handled it?

Is it better to sell your self short for more experience or dig your heels in and wait for the right fit?

Love to hear...and thanks for reading!