Recently I spent an hour talking with a business coach about improvements I want to make to Rosso Writing. I heard myself passionately explaining to her why I charge what I charge and how I think it’s a reasonable rate given the quality of my work and how I’m tired of defending it to people, or worrying that I’m going to have to defend it to people when I write proposals for new projects.

She asked me if I could describe what value I provide to my clients. I quickly rattled off a list. I know what I’m good at. I also know what my imperfections are, but no need to mention those to people, right? She suggested that I articulate the value I bring to my work and to my clients in a succinct way and mention it every chance I get. If people know what they’re getting is that good, they’ll be willing to pay for it, she theorized.

This makes sense to me. I hope that I can be better at standing up for myself when these situations arise. I am constantly being told by prospective clients that they have no money. I fully realize that I have made it my mission to work with nonprofits because I care about what they do and who they serve and how they make life better for people and communities. And most nonprofits, especially in this economy, operate on lean budgets. But that doesn’t mean they can’t plan to set aside money for something they think is important, such as good writing. When people ask me if I can work for a little less, I think “do you ask the doctor to charge you less? The plumber? The guy at the Apple store selling you a laptop?” No, you pay what they charge because you believe they’re giving you a worthwhile service or product and that’s how much it costs. Somehow, since I am an independent contractor, or a nice lady, people think that my rate isn’t real.

It’s not that I expect to get rich being a freelance writer working for nonprofits. But I do expect to make a living, and I expect to be fairly compensated for the service I provide. Now I just have to be as clear expressing that to everyone else as I am to myself.