don’t be funny about asking for money: I’m answering your questions

freelance money questions resolved

Years ago, ages it seems, I had a job where I had a great deal of control over how much people were paid. I conducted performance reviews, sat in on budget meetings, and fought for comp increases for valuable employees. Even though money in and of itself isn’t the only way to retain employees, it doesn’t hurt to recognize and reward hard work. However, what I started to notice was that the talented women on my team weren’t raising their hand and asking for what I thought they deserved. Their anxiety in broaching the question of title changes and quarterly increases was palpable and I remember at the end of one review me saying, that’s it? That’s all you’re going to ask for? From then on, I made a point of mentoring women to fight for what they deserved. It seems counterintuitive, right? Companies want to keep costs down (especially salary + benefits), and here I was teaching my team how to ask for more. However, it was important to me because only one person in my career taught me how to fight for myself. He taught me to ASK for what was my due. My mentor coached me on salary and benefit negotiations (and contract negotiations, in general). From him I learned about BATNA, and more importantly, I learned how to be assertive and bet on myself. Because, quite honestly, in enrages me that men–when acumen and experience are leveled–make more money than I do.

After my recent Great Depression, I made it my mission to give the people I care about more of the kindness I’d received during those dark months. I passed around resumes, reviewed Statements of Work, and even though I’m not a lawyer I explained the importance of IP and indemnification. I told several of my friends they were underpricing themselves, that they should ask for 50% of the project fee, up front, that they should bill project with an hourly cap because hourly doesn’t always cut it especially for those who have tenure and years of experience.

I scanned Facebook group posts where women were trepidatious when it came to asking for more. After sharing one of my contracts with a few of my friends for reference, it put me to thinking that it behooves all of us to share information and be helpful where we can. It behooves us to price right for the work we do so that we don’t get taken advantage of.

So…I’m here to help. Here’s what I know:

  • How to create air-tight Statements of Work/MSAs (Master Service Agreements)
  • How to price for marketing and writing projects
  • When to use hourly vs. project fee
  • How to negotiate (I’m pretty ruthless)
  • How/when to renegotiate and ask for more

If you have any questions related to the above, drop them in the comments (you can leave a comment anonymously), and I’ll do my best to answer all of them in an upcoming post (or point you to the right resources), and if you see questions and you think you can help, chime in!

Meanwhile, here are some great resources:



11 Comments on “don’t be funny about asking for money: I’m answering your questions

  1. I am now at the stage of life where money comes in and I do not work hard for it. I am on the dole and do not feel bad about it. Social Security pays me money for me to watch television. My pension pays me money not to go into the classroom. I work at a resort and am paid to bring luggage up to a room. The people see I am old so they take the luggage into the room and thank me and then give me a tip. My relatives keep dying and leave me money and things. Last year I made more money than I have ever made working and I have no responsibilities. This is the world upside down and I have lost my mind for there is no gravity.


  2. I work in the the Event Industry, mostly in festival production. This is a male dominated industry and I’ve done my best to navigate it and not get crushed (mentally and emotionally) by the very real fact that theres a glass ceiling. My male counterparts make more than I do (and I know this to be truth because I see the budgets/spreadsheets/they tell me so) and I cant take it any more.

    My pay comes from contracted time for onsite roles. Currently I do a lot of Pre-Production work (meetings, site visits, data acquisition, asset management, procurement, etc) that I am not getting compensated for. I have begun to track my hours for each project and intend to present each company with a detailed breakdown of what it takes hours-wise for me to complete the job all the way through to the end of the event. I’m already appalled at the numbers and I’ve only been tracking for 2 weeks.

    Question: I know the rates for which I can ask for my time onsite. But how do I negotiate getting compensated for the pre-prod work and should I do it hourly (simpler) or by project (this is the one I’m having trouble with)?

    Second question: I would also like to negotiate higher rates (or comparable to what my male counterparts are making) for my future projects. I have begun to list my job responsibilities for each project so that I can present those as well. What else can I use to negotiate with and what is a good way to open this conversation with my clients?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Tuff, I’m going to think about this over the weekend (you’re right, it’s complex and tricky navigation) and come back with a thoughtful response. –f


  3. I love my job but the pay is a little low, and I’m interviewing for a job I would like, that has higher pay and is located in a more profitable industry. My friend told me if I get an offer, I should give my current employer a chance to match it. However my current employer has the mindset that we should be loyal because we believe in the social mission of the company, and be willing to accept lower pay for the good of the company. My coworker who asked for a raise and promotion was criticized for being “too focused on money.” If I get a job offer, how should I talk about it with my current employer?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seconded about the offer! I just got a raise that was good percentage-wise but meh in real money terms. (And percentages don’t pay the bills.) I was going for a promotion with the raise but got the $ but not the title (I thought titles were free?!.)

      I’m being recruited elsewhere, and it is for the title I would like. I’m willing to bring it back for leverage…and also prepared to take the job, too. Realistic to ask for another raise so soon or just the title change if I *do* bring back for leverage? Related: how do you know when it’s really time to leave a job?

      Liked by 1 person

      • When to leave a job? That’s a good (and hard) question. I leave when I’m the smartest person in the room. I leave when I can’t imagine another year. I leave when I feel I’ve gotten all I wanted out of the position. I leave when I see management valuing profit at the expense of people. This article is an excellent reference:


      • There’s a lot to unpack here:

        1. How long have you been at the job?
        2. How many reviews have you had/increases?
        3. Are you aware of what the typical % increase is in the company?
        4. Are you making on-par with the what other people in your role make? Ask around. Do online research on what people are making in industries, regionally.

        Honestly, I think titles are inflated bullshit and don’t mean anything really if you don’t have the goods to back it up. I see kids in agencies get VP titles and they panic at the first sign of trouble because they don’t have the experience to manage challenge/conflict. And I’ve seen people at a Director level who’ve had 2 decades of experience. It depends on the industry, company, etc. Don’t be tethered to your title–focus on the work you’re doing, the impact you could potentially be making, and the entire comp package. I’ve stopped looking at salary on its own because you get fucked at higher tax brackets and the incrementals that read great on paper look paltry after taxes. Focus on vacation, personal days, health benefits, 401K matching, flex spend, perks, etc. This is the stuff that can save you $ and sanity.

        If you feel you’re being underpaid but you really love your job, negotiate with your manager. Lead the argument on your value and how you’ve made an impact (start with that rather than well, other people are being paid X)–whether it’s business you’ve brought in, savings you’ve incurred, etc. Ask for a step-raise (i.e. 5K by X date, with the remaining $ on Y date). I’ve been on both sides of the fence and people will invest in stars instead of losing you to a competitor over a measly few thousand dollars. They’ll end up paying that (and more) in time + $ recruiting your replacement. Start the conversation on those terms. If they’re immovable (or don’t meet you halfway or at your BATNA), I would start looking elsewhere. But don’t be solely attracted to $. Look at the entire comp package, the work you’d be doing, the people with you work, before you make a move.

        I say this because I see people jump around for $ and titles and they end up being miserable because they chased one moving target.

        Also, check this out: A good way to leave as gracefully as you came in.

        Hope this helps.
        Warmly, Felicia


    • This drives me crazy because your employer is asking you to act like a non-profit employee in a for-profit company. I just read Dan Lyon’s Disrupted (based on this excerpt:, and it highlights the culture companies want to enact (loyal, evangelists, etc), however, what happens when the company doesn’t meet its projections? When it can’t issue its IPO or the board is concerned with gross margin.

      People get fired.

      Of course, you want to be part of a culture that inspires camaraderie, however, not at the expense of your personal and professional growth, and yes, that does include money because we can’t pay our bills with loyalty. Employees are disposable when an employer has to choose between profit and people. Not all companies are like this, but most are.

      You should be at a company that values you or rewards you for your hard work and doesn’t admonish you for wanting what you deserve. At one point in my career, my employer couldn’t meet the raise % I’d ask for, and we settled on a two-year increase so they could spread the % across fiscals. I got my increase and I compromised, temporarily, to get it at a later date.

      I don’t want to tell you what to do or which offer to take, however, you are your #1 investment and priority, and look out for #1, first.

      Hope this helps!
      Warmly, Felicia


  4. thanks for the great info… i am an educator where the pay is on a scale, no negotiating… but this info, i can pass on to others that may benefit…


%d bloggers like this: