Ladies. Listen- we need to talk about something I hear in our mentoring sessions all the time: “I want to charge for my work, but I feel like I’m asking too much. Like I’m being too aggressive. Like it’s bitchy to ask for more money.” These are women who are killing their game, have clients, and do amazing work. So it KILLS ME EVERY TIME they get shy riiiiiight around the time the business is picking up steam.
The other week, we sent a potential client the biggest bid we had ever put together. Just looking at it made me feel a little nauseous. So you know what I did in the midst of feeling like barfing?
Emailed it, took a shot of tequila (not really, I’m pregnant, but you feel me), and never thought about it again.
Because the bid was fair, accurate, and appropriate– and because releasing bids and invoices into the world is part of MY JOB. Listen. It’s not like I’m floating in a trust fund and can be totally unconnected to the outcome– OF COURSE I wanted the client to accept. Mama’s trynna pay rent in the Seattle market of all god-forsaken places and start a college fund for this kid we’re cooking and buy new shit from Glasswing. But I no longer have the energy in this brief spin on our beautiful planet to commit real emotion to too many things. Either I can get riled up about doing the best possible work for each and every client, or I can get worked up about the finances involved with creating that work. Given the choice? I’m gonna pick the work. Conservation of energy, friends. The invoices are big kids, they can handle themselves. They leave our inbox never to be thought of again.
Keeping the work and the money separate in your mind is critical to having the emotional bandwidth to creating what you were meant to create in this world. If no one else is telling you this directly, let me take the liberty of putting it in no uncertain terms: Getting money doesn’t mean you’re being greedy or bitchy– it means you’re running a real BIZNIS that’s serving people. It means you can pay rent. Start a retirement fund that will let you lounge in caftans in Ibiza at age 65. Eat at whatever restaurant you want. And we’d never, ever think twice when men ask for the same things.
Nice and money aren’t friends. You know why? Because money is neutral, has no meaning or personality, and doesn’t care about nice. Money isn’t evil or holy, it’s not cruel or kind, it just IS. No emotions about it whatsoever, beb. This doesn’t mean you have to be a shark. This is not an “either you’re greedy or you’re a starving artist” situation. But we attach a bunch of human personality traits to money that honestly don’t apply- so let’s stop.
Getting paid might feel aggressive at first, especially when you genuinely LOVE your work. We often feel guilty charging for things we would do for free. But mostly we feel weird about asking for money because women are trained from an early age to smooth over other people’s emotions, and when you bring money into the mix, you also bring emotions. But your business can’t be successful unless you’re willing to charge what you’re worth, ask for it with your chin up, and separate emotion from the whole process. Quite simply, your job is to provide the best service or product you possibly can: hell, that’s why you got into photography or boot making or teaching in the first place. Your job is NOT:
-to spend emotional energy on what other people think of your pricing
-to apologize for charging what you’re worth
-to become overly involved in your pricing, period. Once you’ve done your research, landed in your niche, set prices that will keep you in business, are booking fairly consistently and have a plan for growth, your pricing and billing are a separate entity from you. You have released them. You don’t need to babysit other people’s emotions about money, you have your own shit to deal with, ya dig?
HOW WE CAN ALL GET THE HELL OVER IT
-No one else worries about it (looking at you, dudes). We’re all doing a job. We get paid. And getting paid isn’t rude. Next question, bye.
-Your business is not your baby, your business is your BUSINESS. And because of that, we have to separate ourselves emotionally from some of the nitty gritty parts of running it. Getting emotionally deep with our clients? Hell yes. Getting emotionally deep about an invoice that gives you cold sweats when you look at the zeros on it? Noooope. There are certain aspects of running a biz that are just facts of life, like how koala fingerprints look exactly like human fingerprints, and how 3% of Antarctic ice is actually penguin pee. Just. Facts. Your invoices are just facts, floating out there in the universe, separate from how you feel about them.
-YOU and only you get to create the rules on your playground (my #1 most important piece of advice about running a business). You design these rules based on who you want to come play, how you want the playground atmosphere to feel, a whole range of factors. But your clients (who want to come play kickball) want to feel like you have your shit together, that the rules are fair, and that those rules will be imposed with a cool brain. It’s an act of service to them to be consistent and clear. Don’t apologize for getting a paycheck if you’re doing solid work.
The world is not served by you playing it small and meek– in fact, we’ll all feel better if you act boldly and let your voice shake after you’ve hung up the phone– but not before.