So here it is… Jude’s Guide to Asking for What You’re Worth (for what it’s worth!)

For all my sisters on International Women’s Day!

Firstly, do an (objective) analysis of your skills, qualifications, training and experience. If you find this difficult to do for yourself, ask a friend to do it with you. Someone else will always notice the things that you tend to play down or think are worth less than they actually are.

Find out and acknowledge the top level “going rate” for what you do. Find out what others in your field are charging for their services. You may find that there are people with less experience than you who are charging a lot more simply because they are more confident. I have to say that there is a notable gender divide here! Women are often less confident about their own skills and certainly less comfortable in asking for more money. Self belief has a lot to do with it – but once again, that’s for another post!

Then, add up the pounds and pence. How much does it COST you to do your work? Taking everything into account – include rent, memberships, insurance, training, time for preparation, travel time, transport costs etc. If you had to pay for training to do what you do, include the cost of that.

Assume that you want to earn at least the minimum wage! Taking into account your costs, add the figures up. What is the absolute minimum you can earn in order to cover your costs and pay yourself the minimum wage?

Here is an example. Because I teach yoga, it’s for a 90 minute yoga class

Actual hours worked. You are not just working for the time it takes you to teach the class.

90 mins. teaching

+ 40 mins. travelling to and from the venue

+ 40 mins lesson planning

+ 15 mins prep time

+ 15 mins clear up time

+ 15 mins admin (minimum)

= 2 hours & 35 mins

And this doesn’t include the amount of time you spend promoting your classes, answering e-mail and phone enquiries, updating your website, posting on Facebook etc. I’m guessing nobody is paying you to do all that?

 Let’s say the absolute minimum you want to earn per hour = £7 (really?)

That means you want to earn at least £18 per class after all your costs are taken into account.

So, let’s look at costs

Studio hire = £20

Travel costs = £5 If you drive, take into account petrol, car maintenance, tax and insurance etc.

Parking = £2:50 (if you don’t hang about)

Proportion of other costs (training, memberships insurance etc.) = £6

Let’s assume you will make your own lunch but your subsistence costs should really also come into the equation.

(Conservative) TOTAL = £36

 Costs £36 + minimum earnings £18 = £54

 If you charge £8 per class then you need seven people in the class, to earn around about the minimum wage.

 Uh –huh!

Right, let’s think about private yoga lessons – and this also applies to consultancy work– then going by the same calculations you should be charging about £50 for 90 minutes. Pro-rata, that’s about £35 for an hour.

 I can hear you all gulping but that is how much your time is worth. Pure arithmetic and we haven’t started on the self esteem stuff.

If, like me, you believe that your skills and experience and worth a little more than the minimum wage, then perhaps you will begin to feel a little easier about maybe asking for more, especially if you are now at a level in your career where you have more experience under your belt, and therefore, one assumes, more to offer.

If it helps, think about how much you would be prepared and happy to pay for 90 minutes of another professional’s time. Perhaps bring to mind your dentist, vet or lawyer! The last time I took my dog to the vet (out of hours) they wanted to charge me £100 just to allow her paws to cross the threshold of the surgery. That was before any examination or treatment, just dog into the same room as vet. 100 quid.

Most professions charge more for the time of more senior professionals. Bear this in mind and place yourself honestly somewhere along the Rookie to Guru continuum.

Be bold. Compassionate, loving and sensitive, yes, but bold too! Ask for what you need. Say no to what you don’t need. Be firm with those who want you to work for less that you’re worth (particularly if that = nothing)

Have a price and stick to it. It helps to publish your price list so that there are no surprises. This does not guarantee no awkward conversations, but be prepared for those and practice what you might say… following the following simple rules

 1. Be OK with using the word NO. Everyone knows what it means and there is no room for misunderstanding.

2. Make no apologies or excuses. Why should you? You’re sorry you need to eat and therefore require to be paid for your work?

3. Offer an alternative – there is always something that you CAN offer.

 For example…

“Do you offer concessions for …”

“No, the price is … for everyone, I do offer a block booking discount though”

I can hear your toes curling at the very thought… but as the guru said “practice and all is coming…”

Regarding concessions – if you want to help people who are on a low income then have a price for that too. Have a written policy and stick to it. If you choose not to offer concessions, really, that’s OK. 

If you do want to genuinely volunteer your services, make sure that it is just that, voluntary and that you haven’t been emotionally persuaded into it.

Karma Yoga is a wonderful thing. Doing things as selfless service is a wonderful choice. But, earning a living is a necessity, not something that you need to be ashamed of.

Finally, if the thought of all of this is making you cringe with discomfort, then what about this…

An “Asking for what you’re worth” workshop for women?

 As a little experiment – I shall be offering this workshop on a donation basis. You can either pay what you think the teaching is worth, or pay what you can afford, no questions asked. But as a guideline, for a four hour workshop – I reckon the going rate would be about £30 – £40 per person. If you can’t afford this, pay what you can and maybe offer some karma yoga on the day.

 If you are interested – let me know and we’ll sort out some dates.