“Can I you a drink? How about a meatball sandwich? Here, just have some cheese and crackers. What about turkey? Do you like turkey? We could always order a pizza…”
This was my mother’s way of inviting everyone into our home. From friends of mine, to boyfriends of mine, to the man who came with the propane truck once a month to fill up the tank out back. And mind you, my mother was shy. Like, painfully shy. But the moment someone stepped foot inside our trailer, she would put all of her anxieties aside, take a deep breath, and begin the show.
She did it for me, of course. She knew the shame I felt, living in that trailer. She knew how hard it was for me to invite anyone there, at least in the beginning. (Despite the fact that ours was lovingly covered in flower pots and tomato vines; tasteful pewter knickknacks and real hard word tables—a legacy of her life before.) My mother would do everything she could to overcompensate for our lack; to show whatever smarmy twelve year old I was bringing by that I was respectable enough to be friends with.
When I first started my writing business, nearly ten years ago now, I caught myself doing the same. “You know what? Let’s throw in an extra five pages of copy, on the house. I’m going to work on your tagline, too. And I’d be happy to rework those product descriptions, all the same. It’s no trouble—the more, the merrier, right?”
THE MORE THE MERRIER MY ASS.
As I gained confidence in both my writing abilities and my business woman-ing abilities (totally a word), the automatic diarrhea of the mouth slowly but surely started to dry up. (There’s an image none of us needed.) I began tracking my time, seeing how long things really took me to write—and then comparing it with the rates I was charging, only to discover that adding in all that stuff was making me pooooooor. Emphasis on the oooooooooooo. The numbers I was quoting sounded like a lot, but when you broke it down into the hourly commitment, my goodness, it was less than I was making as a girl down at the ice cream stand.
But seeing the evidence of how long something was really taking me was the first step in breaking free from the incessant need to overgive and overgive and overgive and OVERGIVE—a natural reaction we all have when we aren’t exactly sure of ourselves, in the beginning. It helped to prove to myself that I was working hard, and I was giving this my all, and I did deserve to be compensated accordingly. Even just making a list of the things you do every day can be a helpful aid for perspective.
Sometimes, it’s too easy to gloss over the work you’ve put in; it tends to get lost in the haze of it all. And then suddenly you find yourself offering up thirteen meatball sandwiches, begging everybody and their twelve year old daughter for their approval.
You don’t need to promise your clients the world, in order to give it to them.
What you’ve agreed to deliver to them is enough—and you know how I know it is?
Because they purchased it.
Don’t assume that everyone needs more from you, if the money they’ve spent says that they don’t.