5 November 2014

Not selling yourself short as a creative / Blogger / shop owner



Now we've all probably been in a situation where we've had to sell an item of our clothing or ebaying stuff and we often know the worth of those things, that's ok their objects, but when it comes to knowing our worth as creatives be it blogging, design or painting often we sell ourselves short. Maybe through fear of not knowing what we are doing or being turned away for demanding too much. That's ok its a natural fear, not all of us can pluck a number out of the air and buyers will be like damn girl yeah! *So I don't profess to be an expert but I have spent the last eight years selling myself as a blogger and artist so i thought id share some insider knowledge.

What if I say too much and they say no...
What if I never get another opportunity like this...?
Should I lower my rate...?

A snippet of my story

I recently had to deal with a rather big company wanting to hire me for my skills i put a figure out there that my agent had helped me work out  and they wouldn't budge and I didn't budge and so I turned it down and I walked away rather deflated and concerned that maybe my price was too high, in this circumstance it wasn't. I could of panicked and gone with their price but i figured my skills were worth the money that I had quoted.

To begin with when I was a fine art student down in Cornwall I would barely charge a penny for my work, it came naturally to me how can i put a price on this? Doing a fine art degree never set me up for the working world of art, one lecture a week on how people in London art school were going to be more successful then us, please!? So i learned the hard way, trial and error

Now I have worked for free in the past ( i don't recommend this unless its for a good cause and you're 100% happy to do so), I have worked for a lot as well, its all a decision that you make as a creative and as a business person, is it worth your time, expenses, will this lead somewhere? these are all factors we have to think about when pricing ourselves and our work. Also there are factors these airy fairy like does this cover my rent, could I live off this etc....all factors for working out how much to charge. I'll talk more about this below.

Do you believe in your abilities, are you as good as you think,  does your portfolio reflect this? does your blog reflect this? if the answer is yes don't sell yourself short, if your answer is no, work on those things that need work, but still don't sell yourself short. Is this an arrogant thought? of course not, its having the self confidence and courage to say I deserve that wage, I work hard and I know what I am doing. Selling yourself short doesn't only reflect on you but it reflects on your practice, be it blogging or illustration. It undermines those also in the field of work, "Your playing small does not serve the world" Marianne Williamson writes. But also please be aware of your limitations, ask yourself genuine questions.... can i do this work? is it worth xx amount? we can also sell ourselves too long as well, by all means push yourself but work within your abilities,  I'm never going to create a masterpiece but I know what I can do and I do that well.

I have in the past had a lot of emails from students who don't know what to charge or who aren't sure if as a student they should be charging an amount because they aren't "fully qualified" well its ok to be intimidated or daunted by the thought I still slightly get like this from time to time. But don't be too intimidated not to quote what you think your time and skills are worth. Students still need to eat, pay rent and live a creative life. If you're at university, ask for advice from fellow students, lectures and tutors don't be afraid to approach people who have gone before you. 
Do not work for free, on the subject of working for free, if you are a student outsourcing to other creatives (I receive a lot of emails like this) do not say you do not have a budget, do not ask that person to work for free. Simple as that, if you can't pay for someone's time and skill please don't ask, sound harsh? That's the reality I have to make a living. A lady I use to work with when I was teaching use to say to me "If you worked in Sainsburys you wouldn't be expected to sit on a till for free, you'd do it for pay, why would you work extra hours for free?" Just because I don't technically clock in or I'm not supervised by a manager or a big company doesn't mean my time is worthless. Think a little.

"I've only just started freelance I can't really charge the amount I want as I haven't been doing it long enough" Well yes you can, go for it! Obviously be realistic once again don't pluck a number from the air. We all get our break some how, don't wait till you think you're ready. No time like the present.

Be prepared to not also be able to stand up for yourself via email, but also when it comes to meetings with clients be prepared to be able to stand up and tell them if you aren't happy with terms and conditions etc. Learn what to say and when to correctly say it, preparation is key, the more prepared you are the more confident you will be in your work.

Don't just see yourself as a creative see yourself as a business man/woman. If its a passion that's great but if you can make a living from it, that's wonderful too.. have a little thought if you aren't sure if its a business or not..
Does it bring you money...?
Do you hope eventually it will bring you money..?
Then its a business,  simple as that.

Hourly rate advice and Commission rate.

Now I have only recently been working via an hourly rate, I have found this to be great. It works for me as its flexible when I am having studio days working on large pieces, this hourly rate is good for bloggers as well. Commission rate (flat rate for all work) is a little different, its when a someone pays for a project or an over all blog post. This can vary from hundreds to thousands of pounds per commission. When it comes to these styles of working, remember that invoices and acceptance of commission forms are really important.

I have set up below and email pdf to send out to anyone who needs help calculating their hourly rate, or if they need me to help them calculate it for them. You can pay for this below through paypal. please note the add on option is if you need any advice or help regarding the process. I often give away my advice for free but as we are talking about self worth its also knowledge that is worthwhile too... price list = tools to get your hourly rate.

Options
Now to talk about what to charge for blogging, sponsored posts and advertising even though I have been doing this years is fairly new to me. There are fabulous blog posts, blogger how-to and vast array of information on the internet, but search and you shall find. Everyone is different when it comes to pricing their blog work there's not set sort of fee or how to work out properly how much to charge. You can use the hourly rate I have provided above, remember take all the advice you can find and make your own choices and mold them to work for you.

Oh but Ella I don't do commissions or blog I run a online shop....i want to sell my work how do i do this? Don't waste time thinking just sell online, great places like etsy and Bigcartel exists. Discovering how much to charge for your wares can be simple or slightly harder depending on what you're selling.  There are many ways to determine a price for what you sell. Its all number juggling, being honest and staying organized.  You can create a wholesale price by adding the cost of labour to the cost of materials and doubling it. Honesty with your money, is important, profit is what you need (plus other things obviously) in business.

I'm not saying over charge your customers, make them make up the deficit, not at all be kind to your customers. Underselling yourself is not doing you, your business or your customers any favors it will be near impossible to maintain in the long run. Resulting in sad faces when you aren't making any profit! Because lets face it, your trying to make a business and not a hobby.

Now this is too everyone and anyone who is selling their work, selling a product or selling themselves as a blogger or brand online. DON'T pluck a number out of the air, because that number you calculated can't possibly reflect how much your worth, you're probably thinking its too much and if you're thinking its too little maybe be realistic, be ambitious but realistic.

This quote from Ricky Gervais sticks with me, "The best advice I've ever received is, 'No one else knows what they're doing either." And its true, don't feel like you should know all the answers yet or even have all the right questions. Freelancing, running a business is about expanding yourself, your skills and getting paid and respected along the way. Remember to value what you do, because it is worth something.

Dos and Dont's and things to think about...

-  Do go into the situation with a respectful attitude
- Do negotiate
- Do be prepared to get constructive criticism, suck it up, learn from it, stay awesome.  
- Don't always expect them too shoot you down
- Do create a strong portfolio that shows your amazing skills off
- Do think positive "the power of positive thinking" - try it set your pay expectations a little higher.
- Do some number crunching know how much you need to make, a day, a week, per year etc
- Do take risks in your work, work outside your comfort zone.
- Don't take the first number quoted to you
- Do believe in yourself
- Don't be defeated another job will appear if you work for it
- Do be prepared to work unsociable and  long hours
- Do be prepared to have to read, learn and take advice.
- Don't under any circumstances give up or give in!

Great places for free worthwhile advice
- Oh my clumsy heart /Private life of a girl- Sophie runs one of the best blogs in my eyes for creative advice and honesty on running your own business etc

*Disclaimer all links pick are unpaid and all advice is my own.



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1 comment

  1. You might find this book helpful:

    http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/association+of+illustrators/the+illustrator27s+guide+to+law+and+business+practice/6211668/

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