Are You Charging What You're Worth?

I'm going to take a guess, that if you've wandered over to my site before you'd be familiar with the fact that part of JuJu Creative Hub's services is design work. Web design, brand design, graphic design ­ you name it, if it's designy in nature we'll do it for you.

Some people can afford this service, and some people can't ­ I get that. We just can't be for everyone!

But what really gets my knickers in a knot is when I see the graphic/web­design industry being seriously undervalued. What's even more annoying is that we designers are part of the problem. We undervalue our services and then crawl back to our mummas crying, duffel bag in hand when we can't even afford our 2­minute noodles (because we spent our last five dollars on that cheap bottle of wine!).

There's two scenarios here that I'd like to bring to attention, and am calling bullshit on both. It's time that we lady­bosses valued ourselves, and the work of those that are professionals at what they do. I'm sharing this post, with a focus on the design industry. However, these thoughts and the values that feed them can be applied to any industry where you are showing up whole-heartedly but being under­valued for the energy that you are giving.

The Struggling Designer

I remember a rather awkward conversation I had at a family party a few years back. I was talking to my previous grade 12 advisor and he casually asked me about my future dream plans. Now, I'm not known for being overly open about these things unless I feel a real connection with someone. But in this moment I thought to myself, Elle, 'Why the hell not.'

So I opened my mouth, and out popped the fact that I wanted to run my own marketing and design agency {the simplest version of explaining what I now do today}. Now, in all his wisdom, he proceeded to tell me that this was not a good idea, that there was no money in graphic design. After all, his son had tried to make it in the world of graphic design and was now working in a bank.

I get it, he was trying to kindly tell me there was no money in the business I was trying to build.

But if you're to know anything about me, it is this:

Tell me I can't do something, and it will make me want to do it more. I WILL prove you wrong.

So I placed this little conversation away in the filing system of my brain, somewhere between 'things you probably won't ever need' and 'frivolous advice you should never follow'.

But where does this mindset come from??? Because I see it everywhere.

There is a valid need for graphic design. Almost every professional business will require the skills of a graphic designer at some point in their business. Every magazine you pick up has been graphically designed to capture your attention. Every billboard you drive by on your way to the movies has been designed to make you want more of what it's selling (but let's not get into the sleazy world of advertising ­ that rant is for another day!).

There is a valid need for people with graphic design or artistic skills, and there is a valid reason for people to be paid what it is worth to utilise said skills. I think somewhere along the way we designers realised that we love what we do, like REALLY love it, and so we collectively decided that because it was enjoyable we couldn't charge much for it. It's not work if you're enjoying it right?


Running a design business is expensive and requires hundreds (probably thousands) of hours of on­going training, learning and refining techniques. Our design software alone can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Then there is the computers, and the hard-drives we need because we're constantly running out of room on our computers. The apps we need to pay for to share our beautiful designs with you. Not to mention all those costs like web-design, accounting software, social media schedulers.

And no doubt it's the same for any creative industry ­ musicians, artists, writers, photographers, just to name a few!

No matter what industry you're in, no doubt you've experienced moments where you realise that you're not charging what you're worth. If you were to break down your packaged­up price into an hourly rate that covers off all the hours you REALLY put into a project, what would that be? $5 an hour? $10 an hour?? Surely you didn't go into business thinking you would actually be earning LESS than what you did in your day­job and working MORE?

So if you're a creative (in life or in business), and you're reading this, here's my key mantra for you:

I am allowed to earn a living, and live in abundance by doing what I love to do.

So it's time you started charging what you're really worth.

The Client Who Thinks You're Too Expensive

I see this sentence (in many different forms) popping up in many­a­facebook group.

"I'm looking for a designer to help rebuild my website, because I really don't love it. I've tried playing around with it myself, but I just can't get it to look that way I want to. I don't have much of a budget, so need someone to do itCHEAPLY!"

Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I've seen a post just like this one, I wouldn't NEED to design anything EVER AGAIN.

I completely understand that there is a market for every price point. Not everyone CAN afford the most expensive designer out there. But what they don't understand is that in undervaluing their designer, they're undervaluing themselves.

When I sat down and priced my packages and services, I asked myself this one important question: 'How do I want my client to feel when they hire me?' I want them to feel valued, and a little luxurious for taking this big leap in levelling up their business and above all worthy of investing in themselves.

Working with someone one­on­one, whether you're a coach or creative, is as much about the energy exchange as it is about the dollar­figures that are given and received. A non­formal contract is entered into, that says I'm going to show up and I expect you to show up too.

When we undervalue this contract, we are actually limiting our energy exchange. We start to think something like this:

"Oh, I discounted my fees for them, so it's okay if their project goes to the bottom of the list ­ I have high­paying clients that have paid the full amount."

"They didn't actually pay me what I feel it's worth, so I'll only give them the quality that they paid for." "They're a coach that charges $300/hour. I'm getting $20/hour. They don't value my time ­ so I'm not going to value their project." These thoughts might sound harsh or confronting, and whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not, these examples are pretty similar to the thoughts that pop up in our heads on a regular basis.

So instead of pricing ourselves in a place where we feel like it's going to be a constant struggle to make ends meet, where we are going to be constantly overstretched and undervalued, let's change the story.

Why not try pricing yourself from a place that accurately reflects the amount of hours that goes into your project (even those ones where you're lying in bed thinking about your client or your client's project)? When you start to value your own time and services, your dreamiest clients do also. Pricing is a super clear 'ideal­client­identifier', that all too often we forget to mention. Because you want to work with someone who values your time, your creative spirit and the energy you will bring into working together. Don't you?

This means that you have a very clear measuring stick for your next conversation around money with your client. If they're not feeling it and think that you're too expensive, they're not your dream client. If they realise that you're the one they want to exchange that energy with, the money often comes as an afterthought ­ not the forerunner!

Opening Up To Give More

Us women tend to have a lot of blocks when it comes to money. We struggle to ask our boss for the payrise we know we deserve. We fumble our way through the 'business' end of signing the agreement. And as I've mentioned above, we seriously undercut our own market worth (and self worth), charging way less for our products or services than we can really afford to.

Now, I'm not claiming to be an expert on the topic of money blocks, we have Denise Duffield-Thomas for that. But I do want to share this mindset shift with you.

When you open yourself up to RECEIVE more, you are also opening yourself up to GIVE more.

I work with women who run such heart­centered businesses; they want to give, they want to help and they want to evoke change.

But they also need to make ends meet so that they energetically (and financially) have the means to do so.

We get told that we need to give in order to receive, send out good karma and all that. Yes, that's absolutely one of my fundamental beliefs ­ one that I built my own business on in fact. But we also need to be open to receiving. This is the part that we often fall short on, consistently coming up with new ways to sabotage our own self­worth.

When we do so, we are actually stealing opportunities for the world to benefit from our gifts. When we are open to receiving what we are worth, we struggle less with making ends meet and have more energy to give our gifts to those who need them, when opportunities arise and feel right.

So today, I'd like to encourage you to take a moment to look over your current prices ­ are you charging what your energy is worth? Have you thought of all the little 'extra' bits of time that you give to each project and factored them in? Are you charging enough in order for you to have space in your life to also energetically fill your cup?