Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Undersell Myself

If you've seen my video about selling stock footage, well... disregard that.

(I've made it unlisted to avoid misleading my viewers, but you can still watch it here.)

I wanted to do something good by selling stock footage at low prices for small-budget filmmakers.
But here's the thing: I tend to undersell myself.

More on that in a bit, though. Here's what I decided to change: I will reset the prices on my stock footage clips to reflect their actual quality. And because most are of professional quality (like most other clips on Pond5), excessively low prices might make potential buyers suspicious and decide not to purchase them. I want to be tactful in regards to what the market is like, and not just jump in selling these for pennies when I could be actually supporting myself (Pond5 takes 50% of the profits anyway).

Back to the point on underselling. 
This may be blog about Asperger's, but I believe this issue to be relevant to other adults on the spectrum, especially those who are sick of the workforce and/or want to make a living for themselves.

Here are my top 3 reasons I may undersell myself:
1. I’m indecisive.
2. I'm too nice.
3. I believe my effort is worth less.

Let’s start with #1.

1. I’m indecisive.
My family, friends, and followers who have known me long enough have probably noticed this at least once. I take forever when I shop, trying to find EXACTLY what I’m looking for (hence why I usually do my shopping alone), and I stare at restaurant menus for ages. Ask me which of my hobbies I like best, and at one moment I’ll say “writing” and at another I’ll say “video games.” A post might appear on my Facebook timeline, but then disappear because I got self-conscious about it. And I might schedule and cancel social plans on impulse—I’m better about that now, but my anxiety and “lack of spoons” is still an obstacle.

2. I’m too nice.
Yes, there is such a thing as being too nice.
Truth is, I'm too much of a lady to be a professional business person. I'm not saying women can't be successful business people, as I know of quite a few—I’m personally just too squishy and compassionate to rob people of their hard-earned cash.

One example is my flowerpot decorations.

They are intricate and take a lot of time to make. I listed some of these online for $15, a fair price in my opinion, even though I spend up to 6 hours making each one (that's $0.40/hr). They didn't sell very well. I was only able to sell one for $10, and another for $3 to a college student--because how could I take money from a poor college student? The rest of the flowerpots became gifts for my loved ones.

One exception was when I had a booth for several of my products including my documentary DVD's, handmade soot sprite keychains, and one flowerpot for $30 at a graduation event for my transition program (I was invited back years after my graduation to speak at this one). A graduate eagerly bought it for full price with her graduation money; I was happy that she genuinely seemed to like it. Not to mention that it was a huge self-esteem boost for me.

Not the exact one, but same style.

Being a freelancer is my only option right now due to life circumstances, so of course I will give it a try and learn from my mistakes. But I've made quite a few mistakes in an attempt to be nice. And that's my problem: I'm too nice! Being too nice is incompatible with being a profitable business. It kinda sucks, because I want to be helpful and volunteer my time and effort on behalf of others who don't have a lot of money. But I also want to be able to eat, pay my bills, and have a comfortable place to live.

3. I believe my effort is worth less.
Not "worthless," but unhelpful and/or worth less compared to others.
I honestly hate setting prices for anything I sell, whether it's my stock footage or eBay items, because sometimes I don't think my time or effort is worth shiz. I wonder sometimes if the lack of sales causes me to undersell, or if the underselling causes the lack of sales. Or perhaps my negative thinking is bringing negative outcomes, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I do realize that part of this is my attitude: I find it very difficult to be internally positive. I blame my self-perfectionism: any tiny infraction, even "normal" human things like me halfway doing the dishes, is unforgivable to me. But I'm certain that this immense guilt comes with the Asperger's package.

Feeling lower than dirt is a universal struggle, but it is especially hard for an aspie to avoid. We may be able to hide our difference (especially as adults), but it will inevitably surface long enough for someone to notice, reminding us of all the times we were corrected, scolded, even bullied as a child because we didn't understand some unspoken social rule or reacted to a painful sensory experience no one else was experiencing.

Years of that can make one feel as though their needs don't matter. That their experience in invalid. And constantly being compared to others may teach them that they will never meet "normal" expectations, never get a job, never find love, and never contribute anything significant to society. Not to mention that being lumped together with the disabled or "special ed" community may place untrue stereotypes on us, like the idea that disabled folks will only ever have minimum-wage jobs.

It's difficult to change your attitude when your negative to positive ratio is 4:1. It's even harder to do knowing that the world loves confident, positive people (especially in the workforce). I really want to be positive! But if I act that way all the time, I might be lying about how I really feel, and I always want to tell the truth. (But I will try to be more positive anyway!)

In conclusion...

I really do want to be successful, to be hired or start my own (profitable) business. I want to show the world just how useful I am. I have a college degree and the skills to do great things. I work hard, and while I may not be as efficient, my results can be high quality. I want to help others and be a fresh, smiling face amongst the tired ones whose years of work has made them sluggish. I suppose I have an advantage in that sense: I’ve got pent-up energy and I’m ready to use it. Hey, there's something positive!

Stay tuned for my future post on autistic women in the workplace.

1 comment:

  1. In case it makes you feel better, $15 for 6 hours comes to $2.50/hr, not $0.40.