How do you determine your worth?
Gaining confidence to get that $$$
This week we’re exploring how to figure out your worth, whether you’re a founder or a freelancer. It’s well-documented that women undersell their work—so what can we do and what can we say to reverse that trend?
First, let’s start with the concept of self-worth. We’ve discussed imposter syndrome and its impact on our perception of ourselves (and our salaries) before. And I think that’s an important starting place to figure out how to recognize your worth and work (even though it may feel uncomfortable at times).
“Women have internalized so much oppression that we negotiate ourselves down before telling anyone else our number.” – Abadesi Osunsade in Diem
Doubting your self-worth and having a scarcity mindset are two forces at the crux of why women tend to undersell their work. We’re scared of being rejected by a potential client, and often believe there won’t be other opportunities, which is both a byproduct of social conditioning and, sadly, a relic of a time when there were not a huge number of opportunities for women. This is the reason I hate the term “imposter syndrome.” It makes the person experiencing it question their worth vs. focussing the attention on the systems/environments they exist in that make them feel uncomfortable.
Let’s start with determining your worth within the context of entrepreneurship. How do you know how much to pay yourself as a founder? How do you get comfortable with paying yourself? There’s a dangerous narrative that still exists amongst some communities that founders shouldn’t take a salary. But this narrative reinforces elitism in startupland, which you likely know, doesn’t need to be reinforced. It’s probably important to specify my experience in this realm—I run a venture-backed company, not a bootstrapped company. With the latter, I understand that there’s often less flexibility to take a salary until you get the company off the ground. But even for venture-backed founders, there are often moments where many have forfeited their salary to keep paying their employees.
But if I didn’t pay myself a salary, which comes from the money I personally worked very hard to raise from investors, I wouldn’t be able to afford to live or build Diem. Despite knowing this, I still frequently feel guilty. For those who are also venture-backed founders, there are a few helpful Twitter threads I’ve come across created by other founders and venture capitalists alike. I’ve added them into this week’s Diem Doc for you to benefit from too. To get comfortable with taking a salary as an entrepreneur, here’s my personal advice: If you’re stressed about money, it will impact your business. You should be paying yourself enough to live. It probably comes as no surprise that even when women can choose their own salary, studies show founders who are women tend to pay themselves less than founders who are men. While there are other systemic faults at play here–like women founders receiving just ~2% of all venture money and feeling more pressure to demonstrate to investors that they can manage money–a lot of doubt around our worth creeps in. I’d love to change that by talking more about it (starting here!).
Now let’s talk about the freelance side of things. My first experience with determining my worth was 10 years ago, when I was 19 years old. It was the time when bloggers were just starting to charge for blog posts and I had to come up with a rate to charge people when they wanted me to include a link (to promote something) in one of my blog posts. Despite having thousands of readers at the time, I asked for £50 (lol). Charging for sponsored blog posts (and later, charging for sponsored Instagram posts) remained a guessing game for me for a long, long time. A lot of my sponsored pricing came from evaluating the size of the business that wanted to work with me in order to guess their marketing budget. I also had a few conversations with friends who had similar follower counts, and I then I would blindly ask for a number I felt mildly uncomfortable with charging. While there’s definitely more formality around sponsorship rates now, I know a lot of people that still take that approach. Cut to a few years later when, post working at Away, I consulted for a number of startups on Brand Partnerships before founding Diem. During that time, I always found it tricky to justify my rates, despite knowing I could probably ask for more. I know I’m not alone in finding it hard to price “creative” work.
I think we can all learn from each other on this. How do you determine your worth? How do you combat clients who push back? How did you decide what your salary should be? Do you have resources that helped you or calculations, perhaps? What tips have you been given to gain confidence in understanding your self worth? We’d love to hear from you on the practical tips you used to determine your rate and on the emotional side, how you’ve combatted feelings of imposter syndrome. Share it all in this week’s Diem Doc, here.
What question would you like answered by the community?
Reply to this email with your request and we might just make the Diem Doc for you!
What we’re reading…
How Iran’s Hijab Protest Movement Became So Powerful (The New Yorker)
‘Blonde’ contributes to Anti Abortion Propaganda, Says Planned Parenthood (Vanity Fair)
Myanmar OnlyFans model sentenced to 6 years in jail for posting pictures on the site (BBC)
The Morning After Pill Get’s a Gen Z Re-Brand (WSJ)
“Maybe It Wasn’t Violent, but It Was Rape” Constance Wu is ready to tell her story (Vanity Fair)
New York women are charging men up to $3,000 for failed relationships and bad dates (New York Post)
New Study Shows Covid Vaccines Can Temporarily Alter Menstrual Cycle (NY Times)
From last week’s Diem Doc on How Do You Live With Someone…
Restful sleep makes for happier people (and better relationships!)
My boyfriend is a very light sleeper and I'm a restless sleeper. Even the slightest movement or noise from me can wake him up and he has trouble going back to bed. We approached the problem by first buying separate twin beds to sit on the same bed frame but eventually we got separate bed frames that are pushed together and have our own sheets so we don't bother each other when turning over. I was at first very opposed to this - I found it "weird" or in some way disconnected. The results however have been amazing. We're closer than ever. Turns out that really restful sleep makes for happier people who can be better in the relationship. — 30, Brooklyn
You can read the rest (or contribute), here.
See you next week,