A step-by-step guide to getting paid what you deserve

Oct 15, 2020

Whether you work for yourself or someone else, knowing what to ask for when it comes to compensation is tricky. You don’t want to seem entitled, you don’t want to lose out to someone else who asked for less, and you don’t want to have that awkward conversation about money in the first place.

But the truth is that money is a form of power. When you settle for less than you deserve, you are giving some of that power away. You always need to strike a balance between being fair, staying competitive in the market, and getting paid top rates for your expertise. That balance isn’t always easy.

Here are six things to consider when you’re deciding what you deserve.

1. Do your research

Talk to people in similar roles or who manage people in similar roles to see what they’re getting paid. You might be leaning toward asking for less so you can be competitive, but you should actually be in line with your peers and competitors — if you come in drastically lower, that might raise doubts about the quality of your work.

2. Make your case based on what you deserve, not what you need

If you need to justify to your employer or client why you deserve what you’re asking for, make your case based on industry standards, your contribution to the company, and your expertise. If you bring personal reasons into the mix, it can confuse the conversation and make it seem like you don’t actually deserve a raise, you just want one.

3. Be careful with freebies

We all have a skill set. You will almost certainly have family or friends who ask you to help them for free or at a discounted rate. Helping people is important, but be careful with offering too many freebies. Set a limit for yourself on how much free or discounted work you’re willing to do, and for whom. And don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to pay for your services — you’ll be surprised at how many of them are more than happy to compensate you for your help.

4. Play the long game

Hiring a new employee or engaging with a new freelancer can be scary for an employer. They don’t really know what they’re getting up front, and they may be more wary of paying a high rate for that unknown product. Negotiate a lower starting rate with the condition that your rate will rise after a trial period. Once you’ve proven your worth, make sure to circle back on that increase.

5. Ladies, get what’s yours

Research shows that women don’t ask for raises as often as men do, and even when they do, they aren’t getting them at the same rate men are. For those of us who are self-employed, the gap is even worse, with men making 43% more than women, in comparison to 17% more than women in traditional employment scenarios. Ladies, make sure you’re prepared to advocate for yourself and, if you aren’t getting what you deserve, move on to a company that recognizes your worth.

6. Over-deliver

In the end, you need to live up to your promises. Make sure you’re prepared to (over) deliver on the products, services, and/or expertise you bring to the table. Being prepared, meeting deadlines, and delivering high-quality results is what justifies top dollar.

© 2020 Fruition Initiatives LLC

This article is for informational purposes only. I’m not a mental health professional, attorney, doctor, tax accountant, or financial adviser. Please consult a professional as needed.


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This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Sarah Duran

I started Fruition Initiatives to help people and organizations reach their highest potential. I design and lead projects for organizations and help businesses refine systems and processes.