Negotiating Your Worth Won't Piss Anyone Off


Negotiate what you're worth

Kathleen here. You already know that Tara and I are creatives who work for ourselves doing branding, consulting, coaching, writing & design, and podcasting. But you may not know that our brother, Donny, works for himself too. He’s a performer who specializes in sideshow—he hammers nails into his head, breathes fire, and swallows swords…for a living. He’s a classic creative where he loves doing the work, but he hates the business side of things. Marketing, planning, counting money—it’s just not his thing.

So this last week we were all on a family vacation together in Seaside, Florida and my brother had a potential gig offer performing at a popular festival that he had 24 hours to decide on. The biggest problem was…they weren’t offering enough money. And when you are a sideshow performer for a living you typically take what you can get. Work is work, right?

I’ve become quite the business woman since starting Braid and negotiating sponsor contracts over on my podcast at Being Boss. So I consulted with my brother and asked “Why don’t you just ask for more money?” He didn’t want to be greedy or inconvenient or piss off a great contact by asking for more money to do what he loves for a living. You don’t have to be swallowing swords to relate. I think we’ve all felt this way at one time or another.

How to ask for what you're worth

So here are a few questions to ask when it comes to negotiating what you’re worth – and these are literally questions I asked my brother on our family vacation:
  • How much DO you want to be making? What would you typically charge for this kind of work? (You would be surprised how many people have a hard time answering this question.)
  • If money were no object is this a job you would want? In other words, would you love this job so much that you would do it for free?
  • Will this job support your brand? Will it produce the kind of work you want to be known for?
  • Will saying “yes” to this job mean you’re saying “no” to something else? Don’t forget—this isn’t the only gig you’ll ever be offered ever again.
  • If you’re not being compensated by cash, how are you being compensated? There are more ways than just cash to be compensated—it can be in experience, exposure, or connections—just be super careful because “exposure” doesn’t pay this month’s rent.

These questions started a deeper conversation. A conversation that didn’t end between me and my brother but extended to him and his potential employer. He followed up by thanking the contact for thinking of him, stating how much he typically likes to make per gig, expressed how much he would like to work at this festival, and then asked if there was any wiggle room in the budget. I think my brother’s biggest fear is the guy would come back and say, “FORGET IT.” But what he got in return was, “I know you are worth so much more and I’m so sorry I couldn’t offer more. I can give you $XXX more per day, but that really brings me to the limit of what I’ve budgeted.”

The increased fee was just enough to take my brother’s decision from an “I don’t think so…” to a “yes.” It’s not quite what he’d like to be making but here’s what he’s getting in return: now the contact knows that my brother is almost doing him a favor (vs. the other way around), knows what he’s worth for future gigs, and will treat my brother like the professional he is moving forward. Because professionals negotiate their worth. And hopefully now my brother knows he can always ask for more money without pissing someone off.

Photo of Donny via Shannon Brooke Imagery



branding advice & insights | to your inbox | from Braid Creative

our privacy policy

DEVELOPED BY Indie Shopography