This bastard was getting paid $10,000 dollars a month.
He was on contract with my company at the time, brought on as a consultant to work directly with a young (and far less wrinkley-lipped) yours truly. This was some ten plus years ago, mind you, at a time when things like blogs were for morons who liked outer space backgrounds and hot pink flashing text. (Thanks a lot, 1998.)
He wore what he wanted, gave zero shits about formalities, came to the office twice a week, and had a place in The Florida Keys. Guy was living my dream. (Though I probably would have swapped for Costa Rica–wink.)
He–*clears throat*–was a copywriter.
This was the exact moment in my life when the clouds parted, a bird shit on my nose, and I sobered up to think: How can I sit in this office for $30K a year when there were people making $30K in three months, doing my favorite thing in the world: WRITING SENTENCES?
As it seemed, I had found a way to take my first love (writing) and combine it with my second love (money) in order to make a career out of it–WITHOUT having to become some smelly-haired, Top Ramen slurping “writer” who never made any “money” and who used quotes “overzealously” because she was “pissed” that the “world” had never “given her” a “chance.”
(By the way, the fact that I didn't know this was an option should be entirely blamed on my high school guidance counselor. Do they still have those frizzy-haired phenomenons?)
Anyway, as I was saying–*clears throat for a second time*–here was this guy, rolling in, pitching my boss $10,000 a month–without having any kind of internet presence, without having a blog, without Twitter, Facebook or any of the huge advantages we all have at our disposal today.
And yet, my boss was fucking thrilled to pay him. He was relieved he existed, and relieved he had an opportunity to give him some money in order to get MORE money in return.
Why? Because he made the value stupid obvious for my boss: You're going to give me $10,000 today. I'm going to turn around make you an extra $100,000 tomorrow. (Which is not just a fair deal, but a real big no-brainer deal. There's a difference.)
BUT–here's the caveat.
If my boss hadn't believed him, he would have told that guy to go pound sand. But he did believe him. And, as a result, the consultant and I went on to have a wildly successful engagement together, where we singlehandedly quadrupled the company's revenue in as little as six months. Which, as you can imagine, was far greater than the $60,000 the company paid to get that result.
If you're having trouble charging respectable money, then really think about what's happening. Money is a piece of paper you exchange with another person for X units of value. If you can't command respectable rates, it's not because you're not brilliant (you very well may be). It's because nobody believes that your brilliance matters to them.
Fostering belief is your job.
Obviously, you've got to be able to back it up (this is where things get dangerous in an online world, where any unethical shithead can set up a nice website and proclaim to be competent—please watch out for that) but as long as you know your stuff, then the biggest task on your plate is helping other people believe in you.
That's all that marketing is, you know. And that's why marketing can be fun & creative–not something you should dread, fear or get intimidated by. There is no right way to help another person believe in you. In fact, there are limitless ways. The best way, however, is by becoming one hell of a leader, spearheading the shit out of your industry, and taking no prisoners.
Making great money isn't a big mystery. Do you know what kind of advantage you have right now? You will NEVER be in such a leveraged position again. Right now, the internet is old enough that it's trustworthy to consumers, but young enough that it's still ripe for the taking. It still needs to be led. If you don't take that opportunity to LEAD IT, making great money is going to remain a mystery.
Because leaders don't just lead; they help others believe. Believe in their ideas, believe in their abilities, believe in their vision.
And in a world where everyone's competing against one another for the business, the person who leads?
Is the one who gets paid.