by Sara Szabo, Success Coach4-30-15 Sara Szabo Inviting Success

Undervaluation is as problematic as it is prevalent among the self-employed. Elevate classic self-employment to the level of a passion project, and the fear of charging for services really settles in. The bottom line is that deciding what to charge and charging it transcends the exchange of money and truly determines the worth of your project.

The goal of a true passion project is not financial. But, just because you would do it without getting paid doesn’t mean you should. Price is the strongest indicator of value in American society. Lowering the price lowers the perceived value and worth of your project. If your presence and contribution have worth, they must be properly valued. Proper valuation is the only way to garner the respect you deserve and the opportunities necessary to achieve your non-financial goals. If your service is truly valuable to your community, communicate that through its cost. There is a time and a place to do pro bono work—after its value has been established, not before.

Once you have decided to charge market value for your services, your doubts and fears may increase. As someone just starting out, you may fear being seen as greedy, arrogant, or too confident in your skills. Someone may have expressly told you that your fee is too high. But fear is not wisdom, and judgment is not advice. Both are not only counterproductive, but reflect self-doubt. If you’ve encountered this, you are not alone. Rest assured that many other passion projects have travelled the same path on the road to self-worth. The way to quiet the self-doubt and communicate confidence is by knowing exactly who you are and what your true value is. In owning your self-worth, you will give worth to the project and doubts and judgments will fade away.

A true passion project is an expression of yourself, so it exacerbates your fear of judgment in a true and honest way. The antidote to this fear is to own your identity and define your worth. Knowing who you are and what you have to contribute to a specific community is a powerful tool—not one to be ashamed of. When you are working from a place of authenticity and truly adding value to the community, the financial worth of your project increases. The strength of your conviction combined with your market-value fee will result in clients seeing you as the professional and competent provider that you are.

Find the right price, and charge it on day one. You can marginally adjust fees for logical reasons over time, but you cannot restructure your fees once you realize your true worth. It is far easier to charge the appropriate fees from the beginning than attempt to raise them significantly down the road. Gaining the confidence to charge market value and understanding the inherent worth of your project now will only benefit you in the future. Starting with the proper fees allows you the flexibility to offer discounts when appropriate. This flexibility is key to maintaining your value throughout negotiations.

The worth of your project depends on your ability to see your self-worth and the value of your contribution. The key to charging what you’re worth in a passion project is allowing yourself permission to charge market value and eliminating any lingering doubt that suggests otherwise. Being confident in who you are and what you offer is the key to knowing your worth and properly charging for it.


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