Worth it

I'm currently on the road for one of my recurring freelance gigs. It's pretty new--I just started last month. I found out about the job from my science writing teacher, who passed along the job opening. I'm really liking it, and it pays really well.

Which brings about the point of the post.

I asked my teacher how much I should charge on my job proposal, since I really didn't know what the going rate for a freelancer was (generally, I'm paid by the job, not by the hour or month).  She told me what she knew, and my jaw dropped. It was a serious amount of money, and I hesitated for a long time about quoting that much.

I thought about it and figured it couldn't hurt, and I didn't even know that I was competing against anyone. And if it was the going rate...  I did put on the proposal that the rate was negotiable because I didn't want them to reject me outright because of my fees.  I'm not so comfortable financially that I'm unwilling to take a little less money with the knowledge that it was going to be a regular, recurring job (it's a MAJOR luxury when you freelance).

I fretted for days about the amount of money I was charging. I thought they would laugh me out of the interview room.

In the end, my fee wasn't mentioned. They hired me right after the interview, no questions asked.

My dad asked what I was making (he helps me with accounting), and I told him.

I also added, "I can't believe they're paying me that much! It's almost ridiculous!"

He said, "Clearly, that's what you're worth."

I said, "But it's $XX/hour!"

"You're worth it."

Obviously, I was. They wouldn't be paying me the rate I quoted if they didn't put the same value on my work.

It's something I have trouble with--valuing myself and my work appropriately. I think I inadvertently cheapen myself. I'm not that good and it's not that difficult or that much trouble.  Except that it is.  Or that other people think it is and are willing to charge for it and actually get paid for it.  I'm afraid of doing that--of finding and asking fair market value because I really don't think I'm worth it.

If I hadn't asked my old writing teacher, I never would have asked enough money.  I never would have valued myself properly (partly out of ignorance, partly out of fear).

It's a huge learning curve.  And it's scary to think that my skills are worth it. But I guess they are.

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Nicole said...

You ARE worth it :) Good for you!

hm said...

It's also b/c you're so smart that you don't realize the level of work you do- what you might consider not THAT hard would be next to impossible for some others. Hells yes, you're worth it. GOOD for you.

Anonymous said...

you ARE worth it! All of it, and more :) I am so happy for you <3

Amy said...

Getting paid what you're worth is hands-down the best feeling ever (especially after years of grad school and getting started on writing). Hooray for you!

Anonymous said...

Cool! :D Congratulations on the job!

I have the same problem, and I hope it doesn't stop me when I'm ready to start my business (because I've got a lot of projects, paradoxically).

Anonymous said...

It's great that you had someone to ask and that you went through with the "going rate" despite your misgivings. Becasue if you had priced yourself much lower than what they are accustomed to, you might not have gotten the job. They might have been suspicious - we are all trained to think that products and services can be very cheap only when they are poor quality. You are a fine writer. Welcome to the world of getting paid what you are worth - it's good for you; and those of us who read your stuff know it will be good for your clients and readers!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful in so many ways! Hold onto that moment of clarity and bring it out again on the crappy days. You are SO worth it :)

Katie said...

As anonymous says, it's a good business decision to charge the going rate, otherwise people think they're getting lesser quality work :) I am going to have to work this out for myself in a couple of years when I've finished my training as a therapist - it must be hard to get the balance right between making it possible for people on low incomes to access help but also not underpricing yourself and making people think you're not worth it. I foresee a sliding scale in my future!

Anyway lady, you're a published author and science writer - hell yes you're worth it!

Cammy said...

I'm sure that you and your skills are worth it; you're awesome at what you do. Send me a message and let me know who this recurring position is for-I'm really happy for you!

IrishUp said...


I hear you about how hard it is to a) believe that your skills are actually *worth* anything and then b) ASK for what your worth.

I think women have an especially hard time of it in our society (see imposter syndrome). I'm reminded of something Melissa McEwan wrote over at Shakesville on the topic:

wendy said...


Your Dad is right - you are worth every penny you've asked. I hope you can appreciate your worth in all ways -

so happy to see how your career is evolving.

You are my hero.
You go girl!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! You are TOTALLY worth it, I'm glad your career troubles have worked themselves out! :D

Jessie said...

You ARE worth it, Carrie. Never, ever forget that. :) <3

Cathy (UK) said...

Really happy for you Carrie :)

I read one of your longer articles in Scientific American Mind a couple of days ago. You write very well and in a very readable way.

Go for it!

Tiptoe said...

Carrie, I had a similar thing happen recently with an new job I was embarking on. I knew I had low-balled the charge, but after asking a colleague what he charges for the same service, I was shocked!! I thought his going rate was a little high, but I don't know. After doing this just one week alone, I realize I should be asking for more. Not just because it is time consuming, but also because my skills, time, and effort art WORTH that much.

It is the very same for you. People who want the best will pay that amount for you, because they realize your potential and skills. Don't undermine yourself here. It's hard to feel you are that VALUED since we are so known not to value ourselves. But it's just another learning lesson for us all. Good luck wit the new writing gig!

Charlotte UK said...


You are worth a million dollars a minute to me. Without your insight, I would never have understood enough to get my d better. Her life is priceless. If they are paying you less than $1,000,000 a minute, they are getting a bargain.

YAY for you. xx

Anonymous said...

Just from reading your wonderful blog, I can assure you that you ARE worth it.

Congratulations on the job!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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