Being a creative professional is absolutely no joke, as fun as it can be to work with your medium of choice. From orchestrating strategies to gaining more paying clients, to figuring out the intricate aspects of how to market yourself, to curving those individuals that are only interested in taking advantage of your talent without remuneration, it can start feeling a bit overwhelming for one person to keep it all in check.
I wanted to use this space to touch upon one of the most important aspects that all creative professionals should keep in mind: figuring out how much you should really charge (& not charge!) for your service(s). Initially, it can be quite a struggle, but your business and your creative freedom will thank you in the long run for being mindful of it.
Many creative professionals start out by turning to the ever-trusty Google to figure out the standard rates for their product or service, then working from there. Unfortunately, there are some that, rather than perform their own due diligence, they intentionally decipher the rates of other creative professionals in their field that serve a similar demographic, and then try their hardest to undercut them. Despicable, right? To their logic, low-balling the industry, in general, will allow them the opportunity to be the first one chosen with their ‘cheap’ rates.
Okay, maybe it’s not the most despicable thing to do in the world, and sitting where I’m standing, you might say, “Wait, it’s not that bad when you really look at it”.
You might think “It’s not bad”, but really, does it really do any good?
Trying to figure out one’s own worth can be a bit tricky, and a significant part of that challenge is finding a way how to calculate it so that it makes sense (to you, at least). One way to go about this is to compare your perceived worth with someone else’s (from the same field/niche).
Say that you go along with the aforementioned scenario in the following way:
- You find out that you both are producing some dope sh*t — Check!
- You notice that the person is receiving new clients left, right, and center — Check!
- You then find out their cost, whether it’s from their website or you catch wind from one of their own potential clients (whichever method used isn’t important) — Check!
- After analyzing the figures, you make the conscious decision to undercut their cost…by a lot. — Check! (Right?)
If your thinking is that you and this other creative professional are producing the same quality of dopeness, so you quoting their potential clients a way cheaper rate should be no problem, I would suggest that you re-think that notion.
How bad is it? Industry-crippling bad. Seriously.
Here’s where I’m going with this: for many creatives, there aren’t obvious cost structures set before the public eye for their professional services. The final cost could literally be anything, depending on the professional in question, and that’s a significant cause for concern.
When you take advantage of this below-surface cost confusion and undercut someone else’s already-affordable rate, you are lowering the value of the industry on a whole. It doesn’t matter if you’re only one person, thinking that you couldn’t possibly be the reason for the industry being ruined. You never know though: could there be someone else out there undercutting YOU?
This could easily lead to a cycle of undercutting and cut-throating, and with that, the creative industry can remain stagnant.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with using someone else’s price list as a starting point to see where your own products/services fit in, but at least give yourself a strict 3–6 month trial period to see how it goes.
Let’s collectively build the industry and not watch as it slowly falls to ruins. There’s enough success available for all of us.