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How to get paid what you are worth. A curmudgeon speaks up

In the past few years I have seen lots of courses, teleseminars and other info products on how freelancers and consultants can get paid “what you are worth.”

To be honest, I’ve never paid money for one of these courses because I can tell from the sales pages and the free preceding teleseminars what the answer is.

It’s obvious.

The HOW of getting paid “what you are worth” is to tell prospects the higher rate you want. And yes, the experts assume you are worth more than you have been asking for, not less, though they have never seen your work.

People never pay you more than you quote them. And if you never accept less than what you originally quote them, every job will pay what you want to charge.

OK, so you quote a higher price and you only accept assignments at this price. Then you will always make what you want.

Some people will turn you down. That’s OK because the remainder says yes.

Or maybe everyone says no. Then you have no work, but the upside is that you are never paid less than you are “worth.”

So every time you work you are getting paid what you are worth. You never work for less than you are worth.

Yep, the how of getting paid what you are worth is to ask for what you are “worth.” It’s really that simple.

The problem is not HOW to get paid what you are worth. The question is, HOW MUCH are you worth?

The experts assume you are always worth more than what you ask for, never less.

I believe their unspoken assumption is that our worth is a measure of our self-esteem. As children of God, we couldn’t possibly be overestimating our value. After all, we were created in God’s image. (If you’re not a believer, please fix this up in humanist language.)

However, I believe we work within the marketplace. It’s global whether we like this or not. It’s diverse. Its dimensions are fuzzy.

It’s darned difficult to read the market. But the marketplace does play an important role in determining what we can charge.

How much you should ask for is a tremendously difficult question to answer. The websites and books that present handy tables with ready-to-go figures are unsatisfying because they can’t possibly address all the relevant variables.

There is no perfect answer for all time and for all types of work, even allowing for periodic cost-of-living adjustments.

Still, the best answers do relate to marketplace reality. They are not simply a measure of our self-esteem.

Originally posted 2-27-11

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