Are you getting paid for doing what you find easy?

“It’s not hard so why would anyone pay me for doing it?”

I’ve had quite a few conversations about this.

Picasso was sitting in cafe when a woman asked him to sketch her. A few minutes later, he handed her the sketch. She was thrilled and asked how much she owed him. “5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman was a bit shocked and mentioned that it only took him 5 minutes. Picasso, without missing a beat, said: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

You’ve spent a large part of your life or career doing something that now feels effortless. You enjoy doing it. Then someone asks how much you’d charge to do it for them.

Before you answer, have a think about a couple of things:

What do you happily pay for that you might or might not be able to to do yourself but don’t want to / don’t enjoy / don’t have time for?

It could be anything from your business bookkeeping to planning a party or baking a cake.
How comfortable would you feel if the people providing these services said, “Oh, I enjoy doing it so just cover the cost of my time or ingredients.”
I’m guessing you might be a bit nervous about getting the results you hope for or what recourse you might have if things went wrong.

Now think about the thing you’ve been asked to do and what it’s worth to the person asking you for a price.

They’ve asked you because they really can’t or don’t want to do it themselves. If you make them feel  uncomfortable by shrugging it off as something easy, would they find someone else who took it a bit more seriously and happily pay for it?
Remember that pricing isn’t a science, its an art. Price is a reflection of how people perceive value. We could get almost everything we buy at a cheaper price but the price isn’t the only thing we take into account when we make a decision to buy. Think about what you’re really selling and the value that brings to the buyer.

Then you get paid and …

You decided on a price. Your price was accepted. You did the job you find easy and enjoyable and you got paid what you asked for with a lot of thanks and praise thrown in.

The last part of this conundrum is to check how you feel.

Is there a tiny bit of you that feels uncomfortable? A bit imposter-ish?

This is caused by the perception gap between how you value the work you’ve done and how your client values it. If they’re happy, if you’ve given them what they wanted, made their life better in some way, concentrate on that. Let yourself feel a warm glow of a job well done. And ask for a testimonial to remind yourself how they felt in case you waver next time.

Photograph of Pablo Picasso

Don’t underestimate mastery

That thing you find easy may be because you’ve got a natural talent but you got good at it because you’ve spent time mastering a skill, gaining knowledge, practicing, making mistakes, and learning what works.
You may not think that what you do is art, let alone a masterpiece, but just like art, its worth whatever someone thinks its worth.

Be more Picasso.


With thanks to P.J. Bryant for the “Picasso Moment” 

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