There have been a lot of blog posts lately on working for free. A nice examination of what working for free can mean from the Mission Paradox and a fantastic call-to-arms on the Culture of Free by Suzemuse (it also introduced me to Feedly for which I am incredibly grateful – now if they only made an app…) and how it’s got to change.
This, combined with my boss asking me how much I would charge for my social media work, got me thinking: How much am I worth?
This is a very difficult question for me to answer because I love what I do so much and there’s this false belief inside me that if I love my job and it’s easy for me to do, then it’s not work so how can I justify getting paid for it?
Crazy I know. This goes for both my acting work and my marketing work. For years I did community theatre, sometimes appearing in more than one play at the same time, because I love performing. I had to finally stop though. It no longer felt satisfying creatively, I didn’t feel like I was gaining any sort of meaningful experience, and it was taking up an awful lot of my time for no compensation whatsoever.
Now, before anyone slams me, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with community theatre; it served as a valuable training ground in which to get my feet wet. I’m just saying that I was at the point where I had to take a stand. To continue on my path, I had to say “I am a professional artist. I have studied my craft for many years, I have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and, yes, I’m actually good at what I do. And that? Deserves compensation.”
I don’t know if you can understand how hard that was for me to do. By deciding to take that route, I ended up doing a lot less shows. I am constantly filled with doubt and fears along the lines of “what the hell do I know? Who am I to ask for more?” But I had to stand firm. I had to believe in myself. Now, the only way I would do a show for free would be if a) it’s for some kind of fundraiser or cause I believe in, b) I was doing my own work (though that’s in the hopes of eventually getting paid), or c) I was doing a friend a favour.
So, having said all that, why is it so hard for me to take the same stand in my marketing work?
I want money. Heck, I actually NEED money. But I am really uncomfortable around money. I don’t like it and I wish I didn’t need it. Unfortunately, I have a mortgage to pay and a cat to feed and those thing just don’t take care of themselves (stupid cat should get a job already…).
For a while now, I’ve been trying to put myself out there as a marketing person for hire. That always gets me thinking of my favorite quote:
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
So this “trying” thing wasn’t exactly working out because I wasn’t doing anything. The thing is, I didn’t even know where to begin or how much I should charge for my services. Finally though, when asked by work to send them a list of responsibilities and a price quote, I had to do some research. I contacted the best arts marketing person I know and asked her advice.
To be perfectly frank, her response kind of floored me. You charge HOW MUCH? I got self-conscious. I can’t actually be expected to ask people for that, can I? Just to set up a Twitter account, a Facebook page… I mean, it’s so easy! It hardly seems fair.
However, then I started to put things into perspective. Just because it’s easy for me, doesn’t mean it comes easily for everyone else. I work in an office of maybe 25 people – about three quarters of those have no idea what to do with digital media and most would probably be more than happy to pay someone else to do something about it.
I also had to put myself into perspective. I have a lot of experience. I’ve been working in Marketing, Promotions and Event Planning for over seven years now (wow, SEVEN!). I’ve got two B.A.s and a college certificate. I’m always taking classes, reading books and staying up-to-date on the next best thing in the world of marketing. People who hire me are paying me for that knowledge and experience, for the fact that they didn’t have to go and do all that research. On top of that, contract work does not come with health benefits and vacation pay, so it’s also normal that you would request more money on that front.
All this to say, I’m going to start charging for my services. You can check out my professional work resume on my LinkedIn profile to give you an idea of what I can do for you. Please send an email to nancyjkenny at yahoo dot com if you would like to discuss how I can help market your business. You can also schedule a meeting by using Tungle and checking my availability. If you buy me lunch, the initial consultation will be free.
In the meantime, I leave you with this awesome video on not giving it all away for free: