On making money from your work — and... not.
Every time you have these thoughts, I think you should listen to this: https://youtu.be/PuLr9HG2ASs?si=rWE0hRxtyN1Dn6f9
Until we start recognizing our own value and have the sheer nerve to ask for compensation, no one will truly value what we do.
There's an adage I can't remember. Something like "Do you want it fast? Do you want high-quality? Or do you want it cheap?" You can one or two, but not all three.
What you're doing is awesome. You really have inspired me to do more. Try harder.
This is by far my biggest struggle as a creative consultant. Over time, I've noticed a pattern that when I under charge or give discounts, my work isn't valued as much as when I charge the full standard rate. I still find myself under charging and giving discounts, but it's something I'm working on!
I also seriously struggle with this sometimes. I run an independent theatrical production company and when we do projects I'm SO bad at asking for money. And then I'm even worse at paying myself because I want to pay everyone else. What I have discovered helps me is that I have to go into negotiations imagining that I'm asking for the money for someone else. Cause I'm willing to fight for my friends in a way I'm not willing to fight for myself. So if I treat it like I'm getting this money for them I'll stick to my guns a little more. It helps.
You sound like my father who was a self employed comic book artist. He always had an issue with the money part of it and I think he felt guilty charging for something that didn’t seem like work to him. It was an “issue”, no pun intended.
I understand completely how you feel, and I even wrote a blog post about the pressure authors are under to give our products away for free. (But because of the backlash I was afraid to receive, I never posted that blog. No guts, no glory! ) However, It’s alright to ask for people to pay for your work. You certainly wouldn’t expect a painter, whom you’ve hired to paint your house, to do the first half for free. Nor would we expect any professional to provide their service or product for free with the promise that, if we like what we received for free, then maybe we’ll buy something from you next time. No business could survive like that! That’s just financial ruin waiting to happen.
So why are writers and creators expected to give their work away for free? We’re professionals. We have a product that we’re proud of, a product that has value. Our voice has value. Our stories have value. If we’ve received the gift of storytelling, then it was given to us to share with the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make an income from sharing our stories with the world. It may not be much, and most writers never sell enough books to cover their costs, but any income is better than no income. We are all worth the little bit of uncomfortableness it takes to ask to be compensated for what we do.
Ok, this must be a problem of personality rather than profession... (but said in a nice way)
I work as a freelance enginner, designing electronic systems, and I always get the same icky feeling asking for payment.
I love negotiating project frameworks and such but always hate the point where I must put a price on things. I always feel that I am exploiting my customers and cheating them. I end up applying excessive discounts because I feel my customers need my help and are unable to pay proper market rates. (Interestingly, an industrial designer I work with said "no, we should overcharge them now, we will be doing them a favour. If they can't afford to overpay us now, they will never by able to afford to get this thing to market and we should help them to realise early, save them money and force them to kill the project if necessary" 😲).
Please end the F&F discount. Say it was an experiment and now you're excited to see who your real fans and supporters are. I hate to see you devaluing your work with those discounts. It reinforces the incorrect ideas that your work isn't valuable, that what you're doing isn't valuable. Sure some people write as a hobby, but you do it as a profession. Also, no one thinks Taylor Swift is icky for high priced concert tickets. She makes money from the words that she writes and how she shares those words. She is beloved, as well she should be. Retailers don't feel icky charging four figures for a t-shirt that bears someone else's "high worth" name. You are not icky when you stand up and say, "here is this fabulous creation I have to offer you." Or "sure, I can make a website for you that will knock the socks off your audience. It's a lot of work (well you know that or you'd do it yourself). You're going to love it and this price tag will seem so low once you see the results." Anyway, please keep working on your mindset so that you can stand up for yourself and reap the financial benefits you've earned! Thank you for what you do.
I felt this one to my core. Thank you for saying what I was feeling out loud.