Undervaluing ourselves is detrimental no matter what we do in life. While most of this article will address issues faced by freelancers and small business owners, I think most people have or will undervalue themselves at some point in their lives. Maybe you believe you’re not beautiful enough, not worthy of being loved, not good enough for a certain college or job. Whatever it is, undervaluing is a trap which ultimately hurts only you.
Over the past few months, I have been diving deeper and deeper into freelancing. I have been working as a freelancer for a few years, but it was always just a way to earn extra income. It never occurred to me that this could become my main source of revenue. At first, while freelancing was nothing more than a side gig, I always chose to go with the lower price. I would look at the average price for the services I was offering and usually chose to go below that price. Why, you ask? There were a couple of reasons, actually. One worse than the other!
I did not believe I was worth more.
I started with low prices because I was a beginner. But then, as I gained experience and created a solid portfolio, I barely increased the prices because I kept feeling like I was not worth it. I am not able to tell you exactly what made me have these beliefs. I usually kept looking at people who were better and bigger in the business than I was. No matter how much I grew, I kept looking at those who had been there for longer, who had more experience.
So I always felt like I had to go lower, no matter how many praises I got.
I believed I would find less clients if I increased my prices.
Since I did not believe I was good enough to ask for premium prices, I thought that the clients who did come to me were doing so because I was asking for less than the average. The problem also was that I did not have a lot of clients and it was always very hard to convince people I am good at what I do and they should trust me. So how could I even think of asking for more?!
I wish I could tell you the change in mindset changed overnight, but it did not. I’m still not sure it is completely changed. In terms of my business alone, I started feeling something had to change when I was told by another freelancer and a friend that she would ask at least triple for the same services. It was the second time I was hearing that, after that client who had tipped me.
So I decided to challenge myself on a month when I felt financially secure and knew I would be ok if I didn’t receive as many orders. I increased my prices and I actually went a bit above the average. The result? In short, I received more orders and bigger projects. I literally had to turn a project down, because I just did not have time for it.
People will only value you if you value yourself.
This reality hit me when I realized I was getting more clients with higher prices. It was still me, same services offered, same portfolio. But I valued myself! And don’t get me wrong: there is such a thing as asking too much. To extend this to other areas of life, overvaluing can and probably will lead to selfishness and egocentricity. However, I feel society does such a good job at shaming selfishness and pride that we end up doing the complete opposite. We diminish ourselves, requesting less than we’re worth, working long hours with no extra pay because that’s what a good person should do.
Taking it further, we “torture” ourselves with endless diets and workouts we hate, we end up in wrong relationships because we don’t believe we are worthy of being loved for who we are. So no matter where you are in life, remember it all starts with you knowing your own worth and believing it until others believe and see it themselves.
You are worthy enough, good enough, and beautiful enough. So request fair prices for the services you offer in your business, love yourself just as you are, and aim for the place you know deep down you can and should have wherever you are now. The rest will just fall into place.