We Must Stop Selling Ourselves Short

break the bankI cannot agree more with Kena’s post last week: “Will Work For Free? Seriously‚ĶIs It Written Across My Forehead?” I have also dealt with surprisingly high numbers of requests for free business and web development consulting. Anyone who has worked with us knows that we are fair about our rates and work hard for what we do. And I am sure that we are not the only ones.

Bartering can be a really great option for people starting out, but it does not pay the bill$. So many of us offer free advice and tools for other businesses on our blogs. We share DIY information and resources on our blogs, on our Facebook Pages and even Twitter. These are enormous contributions to others who are starting out, so we should not feel obligated to donate more of our time towards the greater good of others. Should we?

We must also be careful about how we agree to be paid as well. I have had some very unusual offers about compensation for my work. I had one fairly large company recently that wanted me to build an entire e-commerce site for them and get 5% of the sales of the site. Things like this sound really great if a site is already up and getting traffic, but this one wasn’t.

I would have been responsible for providing free SEO (so that the site could be found and sell some of their goods so I would get paid), web design, development, e-commerce accounts setup, graphics research and customization, and so much more to bring it all together. There are hundreds of tasks to be done for setting up a site like this. Many companies are out there investing thousands of dollars on services like these and they weren’t willing to even offer a down payment!

Needless to say, after doing the math and considering the hours of work involved I said no thank you. It’s like Kena said, it’s not like I don’t want to help people. Anyone who knows me knows that I am willing to point you in the right direction, however, now I am getting more and more people who are coming to me for direction and that is cutting into my billable hours. I am going to have to start charging business planning and analysis fees to make ends meet.

Now that half of the year is already over, we need to revisit our financial goals for the year and make sure that we are not losing focus on doing what is right for ourselves and our businesses.

Say it with me: “I’m worth every penny!”

4 thoughts on “We Must Stop Selling Ourselves Short

  1. Mary H Ruth

    Tell it! Thanks to you and Kena for stating this important issue so clearly. It’s a learning curve for everyone, and sometimes we VAs definitely sell ourselves short in our eagerness to share the info.
    It’s time to take a stand. No more Mr. Nice Guy!

  2. Kena

    Mary – you are so right on! Glad to hear we’re all in agreement here ;)

    Also, I guess my post was a little mis-leading about bartering and working for free, but a constant flow of bartering seems like endless work for not much in return.

    Thanks for “getting it” :)

    Great post, Amber!

  3. Janine Gregor

    Amber and Kena,

    I once had a “potential client” (I use that term loosely) consult with me about growing her business. The call lasted more than an hour and a half as I did not want to be rude and cut the call short. She probed me for marketing and promotion details. In my attempt to be helpful and just plain nice, I offered information about social networking, blogging and other marketing options.

    Later that week, she emailed me that she changed her mind about working with a VA.

    I checked her site shortly thereafter and all of the suggestions I made had been implemented including some text that was verbatim to the conversation we had!

    Obviously I had been ‘used’…and I promised that would never happen again. I have kept that promise to myself!

    It is not easy to draw that line between being helpful and ‘giving away the store’.

    Amber, I have often thought of implementing a Q&A package as part of my services. I think you are on the right track with your business planning and analysis fees.

    Thank you for this discussion. Great posts!

    Janine

  4. Amber Whitener - Virtual IT Assistant

    Ug, people need to hear these things so that the same doesn’t happen them! It’s sickening to hear stories like this, but it happens all the time.

    There should be industry standards for all Virtual Assistants to be able to turn to and recognize how much information is too much information for client interview calls.

    We thank you for sharing your story Janine.

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