The Truth: Why Artists Aren't Valued


Okay, dear creative friends. I’m getting really tired of seeing your “artists don’t work for free” memes and your “I have bills to pay too!” comments. You’re not a victim of a world that doesn’t appreciate art. You are a person with an amazing talent! If you expect to be paid as a professional, then start acting like one.

Why so offended?

I think the truth behind all those angry memes is that you don’t actually believe you’re worth a monetary exchange for your talent. Are you expecting someone else to determine your value? Then you must not know yourself. Acting offended and raging against companies who don’t know your value or understand what they are doing is not going to get you paid better. It only proves that artists are a bunch of angsty, emotional, whiny people who don’t belong in the business world.

You do belong in the professional business world.

Even if you are working in your pajamas and listening to a nerdy podcast at 3:00 in the morning.

Business is about exchanging a product (or service) for currency. Just because a business decided the value of what they want, doesn’t mean that you have to agree to it! If you had boundaries and knew your value as a creative, you would just say no thanks to an offer to do free or spec work. You wouldn’t get offended! You would chuckle to yourself at the misunderstanding. You would counter their offer with what actually is the expected cost for the job. You might go even further and helpfully educate that person on what you bring to their company as a professional artist and why paying you is a huge benefit to the project. Instead of throwing a personal pity party and then spending an hour posting memes about how nobody wants to pay artists what they deserve, you'd be actually getting paid and working.

I get it. We are sensitive. We are passionate about our work. We absolutely belong in the business world and bring a huge value to companies.

Want to get paid well for your work?

Here are some basic business principles that you need to know and show potential clients.

• Provide a contract or work terms (a simple email is sufficient, but a quotation in excel, or an estimate from your accounting software is even better)

• Define the parameters of the project

• Clearly identify the estimated costs

• Define the timeline expectations

• Know your hourly rate

• Define the estimated time to complete the work.

• Define YOUR terms of payment

• Determine the financial commitment before starting the job (half up front? full payment? Your choice.)

• Complete the project on time.

• Communicate clearly with clients.

• Do the work they asked you to do.

• Send invoices.

• Record your expenses.

• Record time spent on the project.

Have no idea what your value is?

If you have these straight in YOUR head, then responding to a request for work is easy and anxiety free. If you’re new to the world of freelance, or are just starting your creative business, you may not know how to define your value, what a reasonable rate would be for your service or how much your product or service is worth. That is something we can help you find out. Join our Creative Juice non-public Facebook page and just ask! We have creatives of all ilk who would be more than happy to share their experiences and help you articulate your value.

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