6 Subtle Things You Do that Lower Your Perceived Value and Diminish Opportunities for Work

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Adding Value / Brand You / Promotion / Remarkability

In the murky ecosystem of working for yourself, the ‘value’ of your product or service has everything to do with being in demand. Your value goes up when the demand for what you create goes up.

And being in demand is tied to these things:

1. How well your product is a solution to the needs of your market or audience
2. The perception your market or audience has of the demand surrounding your product

I.e. a lot of your value is rooted to things that aren’t even proven, they are just felt. Much of this is psychological.

Knowing this, I will show you a few things that you might be doing that are detracting from either of these two things, and are therefore harming your value and opportunities for new work, making a sale, and getting hired.

1. Being too available

Telling people of your availability is ok when you frame it in the sense that a window has opened up in your (hopefully active) schedule.

Saying that you are available in a permanent place like a Twitter bio or website ‘about’ page is broadcasting this very clear message to people: you are not getting much or any work at all.

People’s perception of your demand needs to be high in order for your perceived value to go up. Therefore, you need to avoid communicating to people, especially potential clients, that you are too available.

2. Saying you’re aspiring

I see this a lot and it’s a shame that in an effort to appear as someone chasing their dreams, which is brilliant, you are inadvertently demonstrating low value. I.e. if you are aspiring to be something, you can’t surely be there yet or at an experienced-enough skill level in order to do the work with excellence.

In which case, why would anyone hire you?

3. No social proof

People buy from you when they trust you. The best way to encourage someone to trust you is by demonstrating that other people trust and like you. This is social proof.

So when you don’t make use of various forms of social proof such as testimonials alongside what you are selling, you could be anyone.

That someone is less likely to be trusted by others.

So make sure you include social proof wherever you can to solidify the trust prospects have for you before they decide to buy.

4. Saying you’re good at everything

Every time you add another skill to your repertoire, you are lowering your value. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the more things you claim to be good at, through logic, the less likely you are to be very good at each thing.

Clients want experts and you don’t find jack of all trades experts. Even if you are an expert at several things, in the buyer’s mind you hold less value for spreading yourself too thin.

Secondly, presenting yourself as great at many, is confusing. Being great at one clear thing is not confusing. Therefore people are more likely to buy from the obvious solution in front of them. Make the decision to hire you simple.

5. Grammatical errors

I’m a big supporter of taking notice of the tiniest things, and how important small stuff really is. Pointing out spelling mistakes and grammatical errors might make me look like a boring git, but such little things play a huge role in the perception people will have about your value.

If you can’t find time to look up the spelling of a word, or pause to make sure your copy is written well, how can someone be enthusiastic to work with you and spend lots of money on you. Take notice of the small things (and it’s not just grammar)!

6. Not enough evidence that you are a human

In a similar way to the need to demonstrate social proof, people have more trust in others that are similar to them. When you show your human side, you appeal to the human side of the prospect, and people warm to that.

Things like including a photo of your face on your site, telling stories of your dreams and struggles, quirks and hobbies are all important for opening up opportunities for you, and increasing your perceived value as a professional who isn’t, I hope, an android.

What did you think of these ideas? Did they help you?

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The Author

Alex is a project starter, sometimes finisher, writer and illustrator. He started Red Lemon Club in 2009 with the aim of helping talented creative people leave their mark.

24 Comments

  1. James Kessell says

    Interesting article Alex and valid points. (However, you have a word missing in your sentence about being meticulous with spelling and grammar.)

  2. Jeff Crosby says

    Fantastic advice, I’m guilty of lowering my perceptions of people for these things. Its not intentional but it’s true.

  3. Thanks Alex! I’ve been working hard to cull down my talents and “specialize”. It’s a new concept for me and I’m glad to know you share this opinion.

  4. I’m not sure if I agree with your choice of words when it comes to aspiring. There isn’t a lack of action associated with aspiration, to aspire is to have goals and ambitions – both of which are good things. You can be a professional and have reached a goal of excellence and still aspire to be better, can you not?

    • Alex Mathers says

      Good thought Amanda, and anyone is welcome to use this term where they want, but the point of the article was to point out how doing certain things can be lowering your perceived value. In this case, aspiring is great, but it is not how I would want, if I were a client, a service-provider to describe themselves. I want a professional.

      • Wouldn’t aspiration be equivalent to a professional saying their goal is to push the boundaries, revolutionize industries, continuously aim for bigger and better to deliver bigger and better? That’s my question. Or are you the kind of client that is just seeking a professional that says, “I’m good at what I do and I’ll do what you ask”?

        • Alex Mathers says

          Not when your aspiration is to simply be the professional the client is looking for. An illustrator saying he’s aspiring to be something beyond simply an illustrator is great.

  5. okikesam says

    I especially loved the advice about being a ‘ Jack of all trade’. Over time i’ve acquired a lot of different skills (most of which i didn’t complete) and I tend to include them all in my bio, but i just took a bold step to focus on a particular one. Thanks a lot 🙂

  6. Thanks Alex for a great article! It’s very helpful and insightful. I found myself making those mistakes quite sometimes and it’s a shame.

  7. Thanks Alex, I always find good food for thought (and action!) in your posts… Do you think I should edit my About me content that says: “I’m currently working hard to build up this small business so I can continue doing what I love”? I’m thinking the sentence sounds too “aspiring”.

  8. Good advice on specializing, but at the same time I do illustrations, comics, animation, murals and even comedy screenwriting. It has helped me many times to combine these skills and get bigger jobs where I make illustrations, animations and even murals, all for one project. A lot of people I worked for thought this was a plus that I can do these different things. For tv I worked on a show where I did screenwriting, animation and illustrations. Also, being able to work in different fields has helped me to have more work. I don’t think I could get illustration jobs all the time, nor animation, but I jump from illustration job to animation job to mural to screenwriting to comics to illustrations again etc. I probably would be better in any of those fields if I focused on one of them, but guess it depends what you want to do. I personally like the variation of it all a lot.

  9. Thought provoking summary of a problem that plagues a lot of us. I would add not having a contract or charging a rate that doesn’t reflect value.

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