Do You Know Your Own Value?
I recently had a new client—lets call her Sue. Sue was very sweet and polite in all of our correspondence but I felt compelled to tell her something beyond the scope of our business relationship. I realized that saying something could impact whether she would place her order with me, but saying something seemed more important than making a sale.
Sue began her emails with "sorry for bothering you" and ended them with “if you have a moment please let me know x, y, z.” There is nothing shocking about the language she used—It’s not as though she said something inappropriate. Many people would just assume that she was being polite but all I could think to myself was “does this young college woman not see her value?”
After responding to her business questions, this is what I wrote:
“On a separate note…I felt compelled to tell you something since your first email—there's no need to be apologetic! I'm sure you intend to just be polite but you shouldn't ever feel bad about asking someone a question. I have found that people who don't ask questions don't get answers. (Especially as a customer) Your questions have value--and so do you! So, in case you needed one, I thought I'd remind you to know your value.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think Sue is the only one not adequately valuing herself. How many women do you know that look to others to find value in themselves? Whether it is based on how many sales they make, whether they have the “perfect” partner/boyfriend/husband, or whether they fit into the skinniest size of skinny jeans? We've all fallen victim to it.
Perhaps some of these things have value but I think when we try to derive our value from these things we end up undervaluing ourselves.
C'est Ne Pas Une Pillow
I opened my etsy shop in 2014 and I still wrestle with how to value of my artwork. In a day where people can get free 2-day shipping on Amazon prime, it can feel like an uphill battle trying to compete with some of these big name brand companies.
Yes, Amazon and I both sell pillows. If you order a pillow on amazon, it will be cheaper and arrive sooner than if you order one from me. If you order the pillow on amazon though, it likely will not be handmade by an individual that you can build a personal relationship with. It will not be hand painted with a portrait of your beloved pet. It will not be unique and will be the result of a machine that may make thousands of pillows exactly the same as the one you bought.
When you buy handmade, yes, it will be more expensive and it will take longer to get to you. But no one else in the world will also have that pillow. No one else would make the pillow exactly how I would. When you buy a pillow on amazon you are just buying a pillow. When you order one of my handmade pillows you’re not just buying a pillow—you are creating a memory, commissioning a work of art, evoking a feeling and unleashing your creativity—and mine.
Etsy: What’s Your Number?
Etsy culture has also clouded how makers value themselves and their businesses. Did you know that currently Etsy publishes how many sales you’ve made right on your shops page? This number can be misleading because it doesn’t, for example, take into consideration whether you sold 100 $1 items verses 1 $100 item. It’s contributed to a culture that places a high value on the pure quantity of sales which, in itself, is not really that helpful in evaluating the success of a shop.
Etsy however, is making changes and soon you will be able to hide your number of sales. Some are happy about this change. I am conflicted about it and worry that if I hide my sales while others leave theirs published I will look sketchy or people may assume that I don’t have many sales. If you sell on etsy, what are you going to do about your etsy sale numbers?
The Cost of Not Knowing Your Value
At the end of the day, if we don’t know our own value, how can we expect others to?
Which is why…
Knowing your own value is priceless.
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