Feel Bad About Asking For Money? Read This.
“I feel so bad asking for money” a writer friend said to me in response to my suggestion that she start a Patreon account. She runs her own blog but despite it being successful in terms of views and shares she makes no money from it. Another woman I know provides regular informative threads and personal advice via twitter and she too says she feels bad about sharing her kofi account with her numerous followers. Both women feel bad about asking for financial remuneration for their considerable efforts. This attitude is common amongst women writers and creators who undervalue their offerings and output.
It’s not our fault, we were socialised to think that our work is not of value, and that it is our job as women just to give and give and keep giving — expecting of course, nothing in return. I was at a conference in Cork University last year and a speaker at the event talked about how many women blog part time, while holding down either paid jobs or unpaid jobs as stay at home parents. These women are also statistically likely to be doing more than their fair share of the housework while finding time to write or create in between the many other demands on their time. The speaker said that there are men doing this as well but that in the sample she studied she found men were far more likely to ask for, and receive money for their blogs than the women were.
When I read that I determined that I would add an option on my writing for people to donate. But when I got home my resolve crumbled. In truth the thought of it made me deeply uncomfortable. I examined my emotions and I found that I just didn’t feel ‘worthy’ enough to even give an option for people to give me money. “Who would want to give me money?” I thought. “I’d feel weird about it, and then when no one ever gave me any money I’d feel shit about it and it’s better to just not ask at all.” I thought. So I didn’t do it.
Months later after having another conversation with a struggling woman writer friend I thought that it was time for me to walk the talk. I looked into Patreon and I thought “Who is going to want to give me money every month? Like that is just not going to happen.” Again my feeling of poor worth when it comes to my writing and asking money for my skills came to the fore. Then I discovered Kofi. “Ah, I thought, $3. I can give the option of a one-off price of a coffee, that’s not a big deal.” So I set up a Kofi account. I didn’t do anything with it, just set it up. No one knew I had one so they couldn’t contribute anything but I celebrated having set an account up anyway. It was a baby step towards feeling worthy enough to accept tangible support as a result of my work.
I had to keep looking at what was holding me back, each step of the way and incrementally make small changes to increase my self-worth. Finally I began adding my Kofi account to the articles I wrote. Then I went back and added them to all my prior work. The reality is that women tend to undervalue their output, and we can also be terrible advocates for ourselves and our work. For example I have been contacted several times by a BBC radio producer to speak on a range of topics. And EVERY time she has called me I’ve said “I’m happy to speak to you but I actually think XYZ would be better suited/more qualified for this topic”. So I’ve not yet had the chance to speak, as I keep suggesting other people who I think would be better than me.
Emily Amanatullah, Associate Professor at the University of Texas ran an experiment where she had men and women negotiate salaries for themselves. On average women asked for $7000 less than the men. When I read that I thought, “That’s all those men earning monthly money on Patreon compared to my random 3 buck payment on Kofi!” She also found that when women had to negotiate on behalf of someone else that they negotiated better deals for other people than they did for themselves.
While I certainly think this is a gendered issue there are blokes out there who also suffer with poor self-worth when it comes to their creative output, so to all of you, who (like me) struggle with valuing yourself, I’m here to say:
You are worthy. Your contributions are of value to the world. Give people a way to show their appreciation of you in a way that is tangible and helpful to your life (which, let’s face it, is money for most of us). By doing that you are not forcing anyone, not making anyone feel obligated to you — you’re merely creating a channel whereby others can show their appreciation and support of you and your work.
The most sustainable changes are incremental, so I’d advise not trying to jump from “I’m shite” to “Here’s my Patreon.” Build up slowly. Start a Kofi. Build up to sharing it. You can do this, you are worthy.
EDITED to add, as a result of all the feedback I’ve had from this and my other work I finally did it! I set up a Patreon — Whoohoo! (Link below!)
I’m not paid for this piece, if you want you can support my work by shouting me the price of a coffee :)
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