I remember visiting my friend, Marie, who had recently lost her husband, Carl. We were sitting in her kitchen, having a cup of tea with sliced cantaloupe, telling stories about Carl. We somehow got on the subject of women and money and she said, “Did you know that the person who printed the Declaration of Independence was a woman? Carl always used to say, ‘Yeah, and I bet she did it for free.’” We roared with laughter!
Now why was it easy to imagine Carl’s comment could be true? Because the person who inked that auspicious document was a talented artist and a woman—two categories of people that traditionally find it hard to put value on their work.
Carl was a patient mentor to me
Carl was an artist who worked mostly in metal. I have three metal tables in my home that were designed by him. I cherish them. And I can never forget how he mentored me around business matters.
Carl and I had many discussions about artists and how hard it is to charge for our services. I believe that image consultants fall into that “artist” category as we create art and function for our clients through clothes. Our work with art principles makes our clients look natural, original, and beautiful.
We image consultants are passionate about what we do. Certainly, if money were no object, we’d probably do it for free; we love it that much.
But here’s something that Carl pointed out to me many years ago: If I don’t charge good money to do what I do, I won’t be able to stay in business. All the clients I am serving will lose the opportunity to have my help.
And if I’m not consistent with my rates, I’m diluting my brand. I can’t be randomly discounting my rates. That wouldn’t be professional.
Is money slipping through your fingers?
Maybe you have an easy time charging for your services, but are there ways that earning opportunities slip through your fingers? Do you do lots of things for clients that you never charge for like pre-shopping, returning items to stores, or creating fabulous look books for them for free? Maybe you spend hours researching online sources for her or doing online shopping and not charging your full rates. You’re still being an image consultant while you’re doing all of those things, right?
I encourage you to look at all areas of your business and see if there are ways that you’re shortchanging yourself. Earning a good living doing what we love doing is fair and right. When we stick to our rates we promote our self-esteem and self-respect. We act like professionals!
I wish for us all that we value ourselves as we value our clients, give value to others while receiving money in return, guilt free.
Thomas Jefferson said, “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
As it relates to charging for our services, I believe we need “to stand like a rock.”