For this word-nerd bird, setting the dollar amounts I now charge scared me half to death. It was a trial by fire – complete with third-degree burns. For so many of the women I work with, deciding on your prices is fraught with fears. We find all sorts of crazy insecurities we didn’t know were there when we start digging around in our ‘money stuff’. It’s what my writin’ friend, Jennifer, calls:
“The Gendered Conundrum Of Worth”
Oh yeah, we’re going there.
Broad generalisation: women are not used to asking for what we’re worth. We’ve wrestled our way over decades and protests and even death into the patriarchal working life to often find it’s not made to fit us. As well as having to work harder to get others to see our worth, we’re equally conditioned to feel a bit freaked out when we have the chutzpah to expect it.
We suffer from mother-guilt for letting someone else spend more time with our children through the working week than we do, so we can keep working. If we don’t have children, employers eye us warily if they assess us of being at child-bearing age, as some kind of ticking time bomb of business risk. Once we reach a certain age, we face silent (or spoken) accusations of being “intentionally childless” (like that’s a bad thing?) and are often excluded by our female cohort.
There’s the condescension, the mansplaining, the tooth-and-nail fight to prove our idea before it’s even considered – and that’s if we’re not seen as ‘too aggressive’. Or, in my case, the outright stealing of ideas and words and claiming them as his own (I’m looking at you here, ex-boss!)
Then it’s the fiddly little job of work that is Motherhood.
You know, the unpaid (criminally under-valued yet vitally essential) role. The weight of the emotional responsibility for all these humans. The rapid fire way they change, meaning you always feel behind the 8 ball with your responses. Most of us choose it, which can get thrown in our faces if we dare utter a complaint about aspects of our choice. Now I’m a Ma, and it’s the best. Really, it is. Except when it’s hard, which it often is. (I have teenagers, so much harder than newborns. Who knew?)
We’re expected to put on hold – willingly, without regret – huge parts of our pre-child selves.
People think we should cherish every single sleep-deprived moment with our children, no matter how inane or repetitive the activity. (God, part of the reason I quit my job was so I didn’t have to miss out on Assembly. I HATE Assembly. Why are they so LONG?) Because, you know, it’s temporary. A side tilt of the head and a simpered, “They’re only little once; you’ll miss this,” can silence us like a knife quietly pressed against our throats.
Women are endlessly being asked to compromise in a world that’s nothing short of uncompromising. Which is why so many of us are blazing our own path.
So no wonder advertising our pricing rates sends chills down our spine.
Setting our prices can kick off an internal playlist that sounds a bit like this:
How much should I charge? What’s everyone else charging? Do I know enough to call myself a butcher/baker/candlestick-maker * insert your actual business skill here* Will they like me? Oh god, they won’t like me. I won’t get any clients – I’ll just start out at * insert a pittance of what you’re worth here *
It’s hard. I was the primary earner, and it took me a year and a bit and a significant amount of solid advice from experts. Also, sweating. Lots of sweating. It normally takes a while to work out your worth and be strong enough to not just ask for it, but expect it. If that’s where you’re at, a large round of jazz hands to you for knowing it’s time to stop accepting less than you deserve. Now you just need to raise your prices, right? Right?
Here’s the awkward part. You can’t just up your prices. Because people will still wince at them if you don’t upgrade your whole shebang. It’s not enough to work hard and be good at what you do.
You have to create a brand that supports those prices. This blog will help.
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Jay Crisp Crow + Crisp Copy
If you steal my words I'll
send my teenagers to your house
...with their kitten
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