There can sometimes be nothing more intimidating than talking about money. Especially when it comes to specific industries, it’s often taboo to mention your standard rate for a certain type of work or your yearly salary. It’s everyone’s personal prerogative whether or not they share how much money they make with peers or colleagues, but one thing is for sure: If you aren’t sharing what you make with trusted others, the main entity benefitting from your silence is the company (or companies) paying you, not you. There is a certain fear in sharing what you make or asking others what they make, even if you’re asking someone you’re close to. Why? You’re probably afraid that someone else is making more than you for the same work. And while this is certainly a possibility, sharing rates and salaries will only benefit you in the end.
Once you know what a variety of people are being paid in a similar line of work, it’s easier to gauge why someone is making more than you or making less than you. Do they have a particular expertise? Is it just that they asked for more? Did you not even try to negotiate a rate? Figuring out what you’re worth is a lot more than just picking a number and going with it (although that’s certainly part of it). It’s a commitment to understanding the industry you work in on a deeper level and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Be open & honest with others
This isn’t to say go and scream your going rates from the rooftops, but if you have trusted friends and colleagues in the same industry, it only benefits you to share what you are making on specific projects. This will allow other people to be open and honest about what they’re making and give everyone a better perspective on their own worth. This is sometimes the scariest, most vulnerable thing, but ultimately silence benefits the company and drives rates down. People tend to think they’re always making the most money possible — that everyone is making the same rate as them, or that they couldn’t have asked for more — but this is almost never true.
All this goes to say that it is uncomfortable to talk about money and to assess your monetary value when your craft might be something that’s much harder to gauge. Depending on your experience and skills, you may have a level of insight that is worth more than a simple hourly rate. All of this feels a little weird to think about and talk about at first, but pushing yourself to do so is necessary when it comes to calculating your worth.
Always ask for more
Whatever number or numbers you come to when it comes to your worth and how much you should be charging, there is one rule that stands solid: always ask for more. If a company offers you a rate, even if it is your standard rate or above it, always, always, always, always, always ask for more. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get what you’re asking for or they’ll meet you halfway. And you’ll be amazed at how that simple interaction changes how you think about your own worth.