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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Knowing What You're Worth: Monetary Edition



Welcome to Promoting Yourself 101.

Today's Lesson: Jackie the Violin Teacher.

Now, to some of you, Jackie and her violin may sound like a snooze fest.  We don't all love Mozart.  So, how did Jackie turn what may be perceived as a classical yawn-a-thon into an amazing violin rockin' performance like Dave Matthews Band playing "Ants Marching" in Central Park?

Jackie needed to learn how to develop her self worth and promote her work to potential clients.  She decided to try Ramit Sethi's Earn1K program which offered her consultation on financial and business plans.  Ramit Sethi is the New York Times bestselling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, who described himself at one point in the book as "a weird twentysomething Indian who chooses a four-door Accord for his dream car and prides himself on his credit score."  He also knows how to promote himself as you can see on his website, Wikipedia article, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn profile.

In the beginning, Jackie successfully negotiated down her cell phone, car insurance, and utility bills.  She started to get comfortable asking for more than what she was getting.  Turning her focus onto her studio, she decided to raise her hourly rate for teaching.  The reason why she didn't raise her rate beforehand was psychological.  Essentially, she didn't know how to ask for it.  Now, given her newly-formed negotiation skills, she realized she was worth more both psychologically and monetarily.

During the course, she corresponded with Ramit to keep him up-to-date on her accomplishments.  Prior to Earn1K she was already freelancing, comforted in the knowledge that she was a "awesome musician and instructor."  However, she worried about not having any business experience.  She never "pitched or actively sought clients," instead she came by new students passively.  By the time she finished the program, she had completely changed her mindset.  She realized that the best way to get noticed was to become more noticeable.

One modern idea she used to promote her business included sending out a monthly e-newsletter with YouTube videos, student performances, achievements, free music and MP3s.  She sent it out to family members of the performers and possible clients.  Both her students and her studio benefited from this sharing of media that was personal and powerful.  The newsletter created a connection to her audience and gave the performers recognition for their efforts.

Once she became known as the "high-end violin shop," as opposed to the "cheapskate know-nothing instrument shack," as she colorfully wrote in one e-mail, Jackie's studio name and reputation turned into a source of pride.  She no longer felt like she had to convince others of her worth, in fact, most people approached her based on the enthusiastic reviews of her clients.  The extra money received from her new clientele boosted her confidence, and she realized the value in owning and marketing her own business.  As a result, she encouraged her students to "busk" (play music outside for cash) in order to experience those same feelings of independence.

Now, Jackie is making $81,000+ for the year and closing in on $90K.  She wrote, "I didn't think I would ever make 6 figures, due to being in the arts.  Now, I am confident that I will do at LEAST that much."

So...you...sitting out there on the bench waiting for an invisible coach to put you in this game of life, what is an hour of your time worth?

This article was written as an "application" to work for Ramit Sethi.  His post about hiring a Case Study Writer can be found here.  I thought it worked just as well as a blog post on Echo Bounce.

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