how to (not) charge money for what I do

I have a hangup.  I can’t seem to get comfortable with charging money for what I do.  I’m talking enough money to meet expenses.  I have design clients telling me I don’t charge enough.  I take on pro-bono web design jobs with relief, because I don’t have to set a price.   Then I realize I have 3 large pro bono jobs, and no paying ones.  And no time to take on any paying ones.  And I’m relieved.

If we’re ever going to get out of this city, chances are it’ll happen sooner rather than later if I actually make a buck or two.  Yet I hate to talk money.  Truly hate it.  Take today for instance.  I had a fellow mom-blogger in the ‘hood tell me about her new venture a few months ago.  Events for moms.  Sans kids.  I liked the idea, it fed into my s a n e m o m s  stuff very directly.  So I said I’d love to work with her on it.  When she next contacted me, it had morphed from a physical place to a series of events.  Somewhat less interesting to me, but ok.  So what did she want me to do?  Could I help with the website?  Sure.  Without blinking I offered to do it for free, and as I recall she made noises about not being able to pay much … at which point I had every chance to charge at least something for it!  But no.  Then I spent hours designing it.  Learning all kinds of new tricks (not a bad thing in itself) because she has very specific ideas about how she’d like it to look.  Then I go today to train her and her biz partner in how to update the site, and that’s all find and dandy but I don’t think to set a limit on my time.  I don’t say “this is taking my entire day, one of the two precious chunks of time I have every week to get things done w/out kids along” … and I finally say I have to go in 20 min, and leave 40 min later.  After almost 4 hours of free training.  Sure I’m getting PR out of it as an event sponsor, but it’s not worth all that much.  At least not yet, and I don’t have high hopes. 

Why do I hesitate so much to charge real money?  I downplay my worth to other people, at least in terms of dollar amounts, all the time.  I don’t factor in how fast I tend to work, how many bases I cover (I edit copy while I design sites while I create graphics while I tweak code … and i research SEO if you tell me you need it, I train you in how to do your own upates, I help you set up your email accts that come with your new site, and I’d probably walk your dog if you asked me to.)

Every job I’ve ever had I ended up doing a million things more than asked.  And with the exception of two brief managers, was rarely compensated or recognized for those things.  One job I quit, another I helped close up as it failed.  Why is the graphic designer one of the last 8 people in a company that was 65 strong?  Because she was game to do/try/learn/muddle through just about anything.  They don’t pay for that.  They can’t.  And it’s what I think I’m really good at.  Just how do you charge for that?  P’raps I need cards that call me the Muddler in Chief.  I rather like the idea.  Girl Friday?  I dunno.