Knowing the Value of Your Work

Knowing the Value of Your Work | Lemon and the Sea: Why you can't discount what you do even when you don't feel good enough.

Your work is valuable, no matter what that work is. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Everything has value to the right people

If you've struggled with believing that your work truly has value in the world, you aren't alone. So many of us creative souls have been taught that creativity is fun, but not valuable the way other work is. I was raised by two engineers who enjoyed building and creating on the weekends, but believed that work, while rewarding, was not fun. When I started my own business, they struggled to understand how I could set my prices so high for "just a drawing." After all, if it didn't take me long to do, clearly it wasn't worth the price I was charging.

It wasn't until I designed a website for my cousin, who is a performer, that I realized that while some people may think that my work is not worth the high price tag, the people who truly need my help, think they're getting a great deal. It's all about finding the right people instead of lowering your prices to meet the wrong people where they want you to be.

No One Undervalues Their Mechanic

I still fall into the trap of thinking that things are too expensive sometimes, even things I know that I need. Here's a recent example: my car alarm starting going off at night when it got cold outside and was a bit annoying. Then, one night, it started going off at 5am and kept going off every five minutes, no matter how many times I turned off the alarm. When I took it in to the mechanic at 8 that morning, they charged me $57 for a diagnostic fee. While at first, I wasn't happy about having to pay so much for something that took them 15 minutes, I realized that they had a set of skills I did not. I couldn't have looked into my car and told you that the hood latch sensor was bad. And I certainly wasn't going to forgo paying $57 so that I had to wake up every morning to a car alarm annoying the neighbors. The price I paid was worth the answers that I got and reflected the value of the training my mechanic had.

Most of us don't haggle with the dentist or ask him to explain how he fills a cavity so we can do it ourselves at home. That would be ridiculous. So why do we think it's okay to ask for an artist or a writer or a designer to explain their procedure so we can do it ourselves.

Value is more than a price tag

This is something I have to remind myself constantly because I'm the type of person who likes to do it all on my own.

The value of what I do can't be measured in dollars and cents. If I build a beautiful website, it may cost a lot up front, but the outcome is so much greater: higher engagement, bigger sales, confidence in sharing your URL. For my cousin, her website allowed her to add one line to her resume that would really show people what she was all about through photos, videos, and news articles. That's valuable.

When I hired a photographer to help me with my website imagery, I got more than just a few jpegs. I got a beautiful new look that truly reflected the essence of my brand. And it was easy - I told her what I needed and the images were delivered. That's valuable.

You need to know what you're really offering

Just like my mechanic was offering more than a quick glance at the car, you're work offers more than you see on the surface. It's not about the actual items you deliver, whether they're photographs, a logo, copy, or a social media schedule. It's about peace of mind, doing something your clients can't or don't want to spend their time on, providing memories for the future.

Once you start seeing the larger value of your work, it becomes easier to say no to the people who ask for discounts because "anyone can do that." Not everyone can do what you do. In fact, no one else can do what you do the way you do it. And that's valuable.