How freelancers can say what they're worth

That expression ‘talk is cheap’ is a powerful one , writes Kay White, of mentoring and communications house Way Forward Solutions. It rests on the idea that words mean less than actions but in actual fact, talk can be expensive; it can be valuable, it can be discounted and, yes of course, it can also be cheap. It all depends on the words you use and the value you attach to yourself, your subject and the value you attach to what you do, as you talk about it.

Own the value of the difference YOU make

It’s one of the big dilemmas that independent business people face when pushing for a rate rise; going for a pitch or promotion, preparing for an interview or briefing, among many other freelancing hurdles. Understanding and owning their value - ‘the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance or preciousness of something.’

How do you describe the importance or preciousness of what you do when you’re discussing your role, or what you actually do in your business?

When you’re talking business

Do you speak about your day-to-day actions for example, how many people you contact, how many calls you make, how many emails you send? Or do you talk about the difference you make; the importance or preciousness of what you do and – crucially – what ‘what you do’ does? Well, it’s hopefully the second, because that’s where the magic is. That’s where the value is. It’s not about what you do – the value is found in the outcome, the result of what you do.

Speak about what your work does

Not sure? Well, just see how easy it is to spot the difference between what you do and what it does. The value you let off conveying the latter is higher and much easier for a listener to pick up on:

  • Do you “manage a team of 30 people in an energy company” or do you  "lead a team of 30 people who save millions of pounds in wasted energy for our customers?”
  • Do you “make hundreds of calls a week trying to attract new customers” or do you “save our company thousands of pounds in marketing by speaking to potential customers and making sure they’re a fit for our business?”
  • Do you “make sure all our clients get updated information about what we do” or do you “ build relationships with our clients which mean they keep doing business with us?”
  • Do you “own a design consultancy servicing the creative industries” or do you “ save the creative industries significant sums by taking on their design-servicing needs?”
  • Do you “do all the admin needs for busy entrepreneurs” or do you “ enable busy entrepreneurs to focus on the business of their businesses by you taking care of all their daily admin?”

So talk isn’t always cheap

Of course in all of the above examples, it’s the second, italicised description you should favour if you want to own the value of the difference that you make, as an individual or as a consultancy team.

And it’s often the difference that makes the difference if you’re promoting yourself, your business, your work. It’s about the value or worth attached to what you actually do. So let’s make sure we talk about it – talk can be valuable too.


Article, reproduced with permission, by Kay White, communications expert and mentor at . Kay shows professionals how to get quicker more profitable results and build stronger connections by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator. Kay’s first book, The A to Z of Being Understood is a Number 1 Amazon Bestseller for Customer Service.


24th August 2011

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