“Charge your worth.”
“Revenue equals vanity, profit equals sanity.”
Let that soak in for a moment, particularly if you are a creative or a newly minted entrepreneur trying to balance the books, make a profit and yet you still feel like you have moved from a steady 8-5 job to one that consumes all your time, 24/7.
The bottom line? As much as we’d like to think our dreams give us a certain quality of life, freedom even, in reality sometimes we are working more, making less, and don’t even know it.
Now I know, most of us are passionate about what we do. We live for the joy of creating. However, if we are just checking the revenue box without focusing on the hours that go into creating the work, the years spent building the skills set and the sweat and mind equity that support the infrastructure, then profits, which should be used as the critical path to grow the business, will always seem as far away as the moon.
After 20 years of being on my own, this point always rears its head. A couple of weeks ago during a presentation where I showcased Forward Forty TV (FFTV) to a large brand, the manager asked if the company she worked for could advertise in the show for free in exchange for product placement. I answered with a swift and polite “No”! Truth. FFTV costs $500,000 to produce. Products are meaningless if I can’t pay a team of producers editors, writers, and other creatives their fees and generate a profit to make sure we have some left over to grow Forward Forty into the brand that I believe deeply it can become.
See how profit is sanity?
Recently there was some research coming from the US that estimated over one-third of creative entrepreneurs in the US were making less than $10 per hour, despite the fact that 73% of creatives hold bachelor’s degrees.
What it meant wrote the team responsible for the research was that “in certain states, you would earn more working hourly at a local fast food restaurant than you would be offering your expertise as a creative professional with years of experience.”
See how revenue equals vanity?
Now that the equation makes sense
what should we do?
what should we do?
A lot of things go into pricing and making a profit: the hours and time, yes but also the quality of your work, the strength of the economy, how much regular work a client gives you, how recognizable your name or brand is. There are other upfront cost factors: like labour, ideation etc. When you add up all the factors there is one thing that matters: you’ll only get paid what you ask for. Negotiation depends on the front end – and on the confidence to set your price to meet the cost of doing business and the cost of living life.
Do This: The ability to negotiate does not come without work. Look at all the jobs you are bringing in. Are you dependent on a few clients for your revenue streams and which of them generates the most profits? Taking stock of where you’re receiving the greatest profit margin for your work and doing what is necessary to tweak what can be tweaked takes time but is well worth it.
Stop Competing And Collaborate
Recently my friend started her own business and asked how I priced my work. I shared everything, from my process to my prices and my proposals. Did I think I was arming her to compete with me? No. Sharing was all about winning not just for my friend but also for me. Months into her new found freedom we collaborate on a lot of projects. When we see collaboration as a way to win, we set a standard and it prevents creatives from being unfairly set up against each other by those with the money and power to price gouge. The focus becomes quality and it allows all the standards to rise. It also creates more work for all and doesn’t just give each of us a piece of the cake, but puts a larger one in the oven altogether.
Do this. Connect with other creatives. Talk frankly and honestly over coffee about things unrelated to pricing. Make these meetings consistent as building relationships is the first step to creating a level of trust that makes having a conversation about price transparency an easy one to discuss.
Value Your Work. Improve Your Skills
I do lots of work for free. If you volunteer at a not-for-profit organisation then you already know the time spent there offering your products and services without charging is meaningful and rewarding. If you are already doing it, I applaud you.
But when it comes to earning a living that gives you and your employees a better quality of life, leaning into what you specifically have to offer and understanding its value will help to clarify your work and your worth. Understand what makes you different and your services so unique, even as you seek out collaborations.
Do this: Identify your target client. Understand your vision, mission and your unique value proposition. Write it all down. The Social Media Planner has a whole section devoted to this (shameless plug). Keep investing in your skills, your marketing, heck, even your wardrobe! Confidence is everything. Never forget the more you invest in yourself, the more others will invest in you.
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