The pain of pricing.November 7, 2013 | 25 Comments
The other day I wrote a blog post called Self-Employed: Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me. The response told me that the growing solopreneur subclass shares many concerns and issues. For example, when we look at each other, it seems that everyone else has got it together while we do not. This is often untrue. (But not always.)
It seems there is a need to discuss what really goes on behind the impossibly perfect FB posts (“Sitting on my veranda in Hawaii, exhausted but happy after teaching a sold-out workshop, sipping a glass of wine and loving my life. You?”) and perky-spiritual tweets (“The Dalai Lama promotes absolute compassion and so do I!!!!”).
One thing I see in myself and others are complex and often undeclared feelings about selling. I will be the first to admit, I HATE TO PROMOTE MY STUFF. It is just so embarrassing. First, I have to write about what is so great about me. That just feels weird. Then I have to get it in people’s faces and somehow divert their attention from whatever they were just doing. Then I have to talk about how awesome my offering is and why. Then I have to enlist my solopreneur friends by asking them if they would please, if they feel like it, if it won’t trouble them, if Mercury is not retrograde—tell their peeps about it. Next comes the issue where self-esteem meets bookkeeping: figuring out what to charge and putting it up for sale. Finally, and most difficult: figuring out how to stay cool with myself when people pony up (I’m awesome!!) and when they don’t (no one likes me…), both singularly unhelpful reactions.
There are three sales personalities I’ve noticed.
1. You probably won’t want this. Oh shucks, what I have probably sucks but if you’re not doing anything and won’t expect too much, you might maybe want to consider my paltry offering. I don’t really know anything but maybe if we band together in our not knowing, something will become known. Or at least we can cry and hold each other.
I will charge you the least amount possible.
2. I am King Shizzle from the Land of Shizzle and I come bearing shizzle. I know the secret. I’ve got what you need and I know how to make you a star, a success, a sex symbol, and rich. Just do these three or seven or twelve things and it’s yours. If you don’t, you’re crazy. My method will take you over the finish line. All killer, no filler.
I will charge you the greatest amount possible.
3. Here is what I know and this is how I can help. I’ve trained in my craft and I’ve vetted what I’m selling you. I know what I know and, more important, I know what I don’t know. I can tell you honestly that this will empower you in the following ways because this is how it’s empowered me and others I’ve taught. I will give you the following tools and stick by you as you figure it out for yourself. You can do it. My customer knows who they are and will self-select.
I will charge you a price that is a combination of fair market value, tempered or expanded by what I believe it is worth.
Personally, I aim for #3 but have been known to fall back into #1. #2 is a complete mystery to me.
Each method has its strengths (and obvious) weaknesses. The first exhibits the highly desirable quality of humility but taken too far becomes redolent of pathos. (PS: pathos does not sell…) The second reeks of confidence but rings hollow and phoney. The third is very measured and pragmatic but may not be sufficiently diverting to cut through the noise.
For each of us, some combination of humility, confidence, and pragmatism is required. Working alone, how do we know what we are projecting? The best source of feedback comes from your fellow solopreneurs, a community of generous, smart, semi-crazy lone rangers who are trying to figure it out just like you. Personally, I’m happy to share what I know. Up to a point… Then I’ve got to get back to being alone because that’s where my art can be found.
When in doubt, consider being guided by the following:
Most important is healthy respect for your own natural inner richness and awareness of the inseparability of giving and taking. As the image above indicates, it may be impossible–and unnecessary–to differentiate.
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