Deciding how to price your services is an interesting process. We all know that the price we set needs to at least cover our costs — and hopefully bring some profit as well. But how do you determine that profit margin and how do you put a value on your time?
That's the problem I encountered a year ago, when I was approached by a company who wanted to sponsor some videos for my YouTube channel. I loved their mission and our values aligned, so I was happy to do that - but how much money was I going to ask for? It's a nice problem to have, but it left me startled.
I didn't know where to begin, so naturally I started Googling. How much does a video editor get per hour? The numbers were all over the place, from $22 per hour to $500 a day.
After some time and A LOT of internal debate, I arrived at a number: $300 per five minute video. I felt confident and empowered — but little did I know,I was undervaluing myself and my time.
I always thought that I knew my worth and that I wouldn't make the classic mistake of asking for less money than others, but I was wrong. After I shared the exciting news with my friend who had more experience with how YouTube creators priced their work, she told me that I should go higher — that $500 felt right.
I felt like a rebel, and in over my head. I was texting my boyfriend on the way home, telling him how excited I was about this and asking him whether he thought $500 was too much. “How many hours of work would those videos take?” Was his immediate response. After I told him it would take five to seven hours per video, my phone beeped: “Ask for at least $750.”
I stopped. That felt way too high: me? Charging $750 per video? Insanity.
But he explained that I should be ready for a negotiation: this is a number that the conversation will anchor from, and not only it would improve my chances of getting paid more, but it would also communicate my confidence in the value I'd be providing them.
When the moment of truth came, I put on my confident face (while shaking inside) and said the number: “$750 per video.” I was prepared for a negotiation, but I had decided that I was not going lower than $500.
The company agreed to that price straight away. And just like that, I was going to earn two and a half times more than what I originally was going to ask for!
The moral of the story is: when valuing your time and services, be bold and go higher than what your gut is telling you, and ask trusted friends and colleagues for their input. And benchmark — with both men and women. This is the only way to get a realistic picture that’s not biased by self-doubts. And get ready to set the anchor for your negotiations — let the other side know your value. And if it doesn’t feel right at first, fake it till you make it!
Masha is the founder of Coding Blonde, a blog dedicated to empowering women in technology and breaking stereotypes. She creates videos showing that tech can be fun and doesn't have to be intimidating. Her background is in Marketing and Market Research and learning how to code is her hobby. She is passionate about learning how everything works - along with cooking, travelling and discovering new things.
Masha is originally from Russia and has recently moved to the US from London, where she worked at Google for a couple of years.