This past week has been sort of a whirlwind. I’m self-employed and I have my hands in a few pots (Is that the saying? What does that mean again?), all related to writing, but sometimes work includes travel. I spent a few days in Baltimore and a few days in Atlanta and now I’m back at my desk wearing respectable sweatpants and a flannel shirt.

But while I was down in Atlanta, I led a session in a room full of mostly-women about a topic in business that oft leaves the most buttoned-up, brilliant women sweating a little bit — the money side. And the money side – in any occupation – can get a little bit tricky. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I do think that some of these books (points to Lean In, points to you know, basically every book about women in business) are pretty accurate when they say that women are losing thousands of potential earnings by simply being too afraid to ask or negotiate.

The room I spoke in had an audience with a vast range of work experience. There were full-time professionals, freelance writers, speakers, PR and brand reps, entrepreneurs, and people who blog as a hobby. I told this story, which I’m sort of paraphrasing here, but I think it delivers a good point, and I’m hoping that it resonates with some of the people who were in that room.

The night prior to my session, I was having dinner with a group of people, and someone pulled me aside to tell me that a brand approached her about buying a series of three posts on her popular DIY/craft blog. She’s a full-time, all-in, this-is-her-salary blogger (as opposed to me, who writes in a few different capacities, but Semiproper isn’t paying my mortgage), but was unsure of how much to charge this brand.

“So how much are you thinking about charging?”

“$600 for all three posts?”

“Hmmm.” I mean I said hmmm and I was trying to keep my game face tight, but apparently I had clutched at my chest like I was having heart pains.


“Here’s what I think you should do. I think you should respond to that email, and let her know that the price for what they’re asking is $2,000.” She balked, and I continued. “I think you can ask for more than $2,000, but if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable, shoot for $2,000.”

And we chatted a little bit more, and I went on to remind her of her selling points. She’s not running (although that may be a lovely website, but you know what I mean), but she’s running a DIY/craft blog full time. I reminded her that most of her traffic comes from Pinterest, she takes beautiful photos, it’s the holiday season, and a slew of other things.

About 30 minutes before I was due to speak in the hotel ballroom, she tackled me.

“I emailed them this morning! But I didn’t say $2,000. I said $1,800. She emailed me back immediately with ‘Great, we’ll send the contract over ASAP.'” Such a cool moment, especially considering this email exchange happened on a Saturday. We hugged and I congratulated her and then she said “I TOTALLY COULD HAVE ASKED FOR MORE” which yes, 100%, she could have. And even if they said no, it’s not the utter rejection that we all (especially me) can tend to think a no might be.

I ended up using this story as an example in our talk about how women in business can tend to undervalue themselves. But then I pointed out that I said women in business. Blogging sometimes gets a bad reputation, and frankly, for good reason. When a blogger misses deadlines or acts unprofessionally or doesn’t deliver or [insert similar office faux pas here], it kind of ruins it for everyone else. (I’m thinking about a story where a woman at a popular conference cornered a brand rep and told her that if he didn’t give her a free pair of Crocs, she would defame his brand on her popular website. I mean. *wild eyes*)

So if people are using as a fun hobby, cool. Hobby it up. But, if someone wants to treat it like a profession, then he/she needs to act like a professional. And while I just went on a tangent about blogging, knowing your value applies to business as a whole – whether you’re negotiating your salary or your freelance rates or your raise or promotion.

Anyway, it was a great discussion – Titania Jordan and Kelly Whalen both led it with me, which provided for a good mix (Titania’s a brand strategist, Kelly does a lot of consulting, etc) even when we disagreed (Kelly and I politely debated a couple of points). As a whole it was a good reminder to lean in or lean back or let your shoulder lean.


What’s Your Favorite Charity / Non-Profit / NGO?

September 16, 2014
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I get a lot of emails from awesome nonprofits and charities who would like for me to promote them. In order to not dilute my efficacy, I limit the amount I partner with each year, but I’m always a little sad because there are so many cool ones out there. A friend emailed me because she […]

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This is How I Feel, Volume 68

September 12, 2014
This is How I Feel, Volume 68

If you’re new here (hello!), This is How I Feel happens on Fridays, reflecting my deep, deep love of GIFs and dumb captions. ___________________________________ Deleting spam from my inbox. ___________________________________ Looking at all of the features on the iPhone 6.

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A Sad Farewell to Diet Coke…. I Guess

September 10, 2014

Jamie of The Very Worst Missionary and I became internet friends (a phrase less creepy now than the AOL days of yore… sup? ASL?), then became in real life friends, and bonded over a few things we have in common. Mutual love of writing, dancing, Internet memes, social justice, and Diet Coke, for example. Last September […]

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What Would You Do If Your Income Doubled?

September 8, 2014
What Would You Do If Your Income Doubled?

I ordered a bunch of books online and I’ve been reading them before bed. Which is new for me, because instead of going from 0 to 60 (when I wake up) and 60 to 0 (when I look at my computer, stop working, shut it down, then immediately swan dive into bed), I’ve been trying […]

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