There’s an issue that comes up in my life, and the lives of artists and entrepreneurs that I care about, so often that I need to address it.

Many of us need to raise our rates. Now.

The problem is, most of us operate from a scarcity mindset, which is completely fear-based, instead of a mindset of abundance, which is growth-based.

We fear that if we charge too much, no one will hire us. Or we cling onto our existing clients by continuing to overextend ourselves by offering too much of our time and energy without the proper compensation.

This is particularly prevalent in the artist community. Perhaps that’s because it’s the community I’m most familiar with, but I think it’s because it’s the community with the most subjective value.

I’m a filmmaker. And I’ve done a ton of free work. I’ve done even more cheap work.

But over the years, I’ve learned the truth about working with people with just a little bit of money to pay for my work: they are also operating from a scarcity mindset.

Now I know that I don’t want to work with people like that, because I don’t want to be like that.

When someone is acting from that scarcity mindset, it most often clouds their judgement because they are in a frantic state — trying desperately to control a situation in which they should let go and trust their collaborator, partner, or contractor.

What that means is that they are usually the clients that demand the most, complain the most, and take up most of your time — all while wanting to pay the least they can.

This is part of the principle commonly known as the “80/20” rule. Tim Ferriss made it popular in his breakout book “The 4-Hour Workweek” and it means that 80% of your results typically comes from 20% of your efforts.

In client terms that means 80% of your income usually comes from 20% of your clients. (And the other 20% comes from a collection of clients that demand 80% of your time!)

It’s plain to see if you do a quick analysis. A client of mine who brings my business six figures in revenue definitely requires a lot of our time and energy, but the workflow is pretty seamless and clean and that makes it “easy” to complete.

But other clients that I may accept at a time or moment of scarcity mindset, may be a $3,000 job.

Guess which one causes me more stress? Guess which client is constantly asking for more work, more value, and more of my time for unnecessary conversations?

The one where my profit margin is almost nonexistent.

There’s a reason clients like my six-figure client are easier to work with. If they’ve hired you for a big job, they’ve made a true commitment to the project they want completed. They’ve made a clear decision and will stick by it. So they are willing to show that commitment with proper compensation.

They are focused on the long term effects. This is growth-based thought.

The smaller client is generally focused on getting the most out of their little bit of money in the shortest time. Everything is immediate. They are not focused on the long term growth.

They are focused on what they have to lose instead of what they have to gain.

So we have to ask ourselves: is this the type of client we want? Or do we want to build deeper relationships and connections with the clients that commit?

The answer should be clear. At least it is to me now (finally).

But we can’t put it all on our clients.

We, and only we, are responsible for seeing and claiming the value that see in ourselves and our work. I have this conversation at least once a week with colleagues that are incredibly talented, and their work is well-appreciated and recognized, but they are scared to raise their rates. So they stay stressed in that crab-in-a-bucket scarcity mindset.

It hurts me to see.

Is there a time where it’s appropriate to work for cheap or free? Of course. Lots of them.

I worked for free when learning how to be a documentary filmmaker 15 years ago. Then once I got paid once, I didn’t go back. I continued to learn, but was paid for it.

I work for free now if it’s a worthy cause. A friend of mine is running for city council in Durham and I believe in him. I want to see him win. So I offered my services for free.

I conduct a monthly storytelling series, which takes a ton of my time and I receive no payment for. But the value I get from the connections I’ve built through that series is priceless.

What do all of those things have in common?

They are all seeking some long term impact. They are coming from the abundance mindset.

But the person who offers me a “job” that I’d do for free or cheap because “I’ll gain a lot of exposure” is absolutely operating from a scarcity mindset. And because of that, there’s NEVER any exposure, often because the job never even gets completed or distributed.

Learning to operate from a place of abundance and growth requires a leap of faith and that can be scary.

But any great accomplishment requires that leap.

So instead of looking at it through a fear-based lens of how scary that leap seems, what if we looked at the potential upside if it worked?

Featured image via Anna Norwood


Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.

You can read the rest of “Right as Rain” here, and check back every Wednesday on Chapelboro for a new column!