Earn Entrepreneurship

Self-Employed? 3 Reasons You’re Not Getting Paid More

Terri Trespicio  |  November 1, 2019

If you’re self-employed, getting paid what you’re worth can be challenging. Stop making these excuses with your clients and start getting paid more.

If you’re not getting compensated fairly at your job, you would go to your manager and make your case as to why you deserve a raise. Another option may be to look for a position in a different department within the organization. And the road typically less taken is the option of just quitting. 

But what if you work for yourself? You set your own hours, choose your own clients and determine how much you make. There’s nobody to ask about a raise, and you can’t quit.

Surprisingly, though, many self-employed professionals are selling themselves short when it comes to salary. 

‘My Clients Won’t Pay Me More’

A colleague of mine, I’ll call her Jen, is a self-employed PR professional in San Diego. We met up recently in New York after not seeing each other in years. I was on my phone when she walked in, and she greeted me by asking if I was using an app — as if she’d never used an app herself. 

And then Jen pulled out her flip phone. She said this phone was “much more affordable” at only about $50 a month. Then the real answer followed as to why she was stuck using an old phone: “My clients won’t pay me more.”

Know Your Self-employed Worth

I told my friend that it was time for her to find new clients.

Turns out, Jen’s “bread-and-butter client” had been paying her the same monthly rate for years, despite being given more responsibilities. Meanwhile, she was living like 1999 talking on her flip phone.

Many entrepreneurs make excuses that keep us from being paid what we deserve for the work we do. Just because you are an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to make less than you would in a corporate job. 

3 Excuses to Stop Using Right Now

Working with clients can be tough, and determining your pay rate isn’t always black and white. But here are some of the most common excuses self-employed professionals make that hold them back from getting paid what they deserve.  

  1. It’s ‘too much’ money to ask for. Jen couldn’t imagine asking her client to pay her a higher rate. She was certain that they had a very limited budget. The problem with this thinking is that it holds us back from getting what we deserve. Just because you may think it’s too much money, doesn’t mean your client feels that way. My mother said wisely to me, “Don’t sell out of your own pocket.” Sometimes asking for more just takes getting the right wording. Try these 6 business email templates.
  2. If I do more now, they’ll pay later. Don’t make the mistake of doing more work for your clients now and hope it convinces them to pay you more later. A client just sees it as a benefit that they’re getting more services at the same rate. If your client asks you take on more responsibilities or projects, don’t do it without discussing how you’ll be paid first. 
  3. I’m loyal and would feel guilty leaving. Just because you’ve worked with a client for a long time doesn’t mean they deserve all of you — for nothing. If you have a long-term client, approach them by saying you appreciate working together but that you won’t be able to provide the same level of services at the current rate. Give them a few options on how you could continue to work together at a fair rate. 

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