Almost my entire working adult life, I have been either a startup owner or a freelancer. I've been through good months but more often than not, terrible months. After working as a full-timer for 8 months, I have once again rejoin the ranks of freelancer for the past 2 months.
As a freelancer, one has to be comfortable with the prospect of money and understand the value of the services being exchanged. After speaking to a few freelancers and friends regarding freelancing and running your own business, I realise that the theme of undervaluing one services and having the imposter syndrome is common.
It is unforunate that money is a topic that isn't really being spoken about, at least not as much as I will like it to be discussed. When I first started out, I never understand the value of the services I bring to the market. Even right now, sometimes I'm constantly thinking of ways to adjust the offerings of my services so that I could optimise my earning. Here are 3 fast ways that I have taken to figure out how much my services are worth.
This is a no-brainer. All businesses require customers. I always use trifecta approach to determine if it makes sense for businesses to engage my services.
1. Do you help them to save time?
2. Do you help them to save money? Or generate revenue?
3. Is your work of better quality as compared to what they have now? If they do not have any existing solution in place, why are they looking to integrate yours?
The best way to know if you are of value is to start sharing about your services. The faster you could receive market feedback, the better you could pivot your offerings. As a freelancer, it is important to balance the time seeking for deals and working on the deals. Too many deals without operational support will cause disgruntled customers. However if you leave too much gap before sourcing for leads, you might suffer from an undesirable period of low income.
When I first freelance, be it as a fitness instructor or a web developer, I give complimentary services. In most of my career, I have taken the self-taught route, this method works well for me to test the market and see if I am a good fit for the services I am providing. Once I am at a stage whereby I am receiving sufficient jobs and have a substantial portfolio, I begin to charge twice of what I am charging. It might sound crazy but since I am charging a nominal fee, it is not too difficult.
Since I have a freelancing job that pays me a constant stream of income, I could comfortably walk away from rejected deals. However, since there are people who are open to paying for my services with the amount that I'm asking for, I'm now have a clearer picture of where my market value is. If there is constantly no deal being done, then I know that either I am looking at the wrong market, or my value does not match up to the price tag.
Recently, a few companies and recruiters have contacted me to arranged for interviews. While I'm not entirely open to looking for a full-time job right now, understanding my market value help me to negotiate for a better rate, be it for freelancing project or other pitches. Personally, I feel that I have frequently undervalued my worth. Throwing out an atrocious high number (atrocious, in the sense that internally, I couldn't reconcile with the fact that I could achieve it) and hearing that there could be a possibility that this amount could be followed through anchor the fact that I am worthy of x amount.
Right now, I'm trying ways to challenge that number. I'm at a stage where I'm not entirely worried about losing a deal and moving on to the next. The beautiful thing about freelancing is that there might not be a capped to the amount I could earn, depending on the industry and the way of operating my freelancing career. However the scary thing is that it could go the other way as well. However, since knowing that the people are actively looking to recruit people of my profile, there always seem to be a way out for me.
Being a freelancer, setting my own prices and working with seasoned business people have given me autonomy and insights to help me build my worth and my services. Maybe, six months down the line, I will look for a full-time job. Who knows? But right now, I'm enjoying the ride of life.
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