How Creatives Are Screwing Themselves In Business

Starting a business as a "creative" entrepreneur, can be one of the most difficult business to start.  The main reason?  It's hard to put a dollar amount on your time and service.  As a videographer I have heard statements like "Well all you do is set up a camera and hit the record button right?  It can't be that hard."  Or "How can it cost that much for something so simple?"  Most people don't understand the work that is involved for creative entrepreneurs.  Then the worst things happen.  These creative types give in.

Most that start up a business around their passion would easily provide these services for free, and have probably often had to.  You pick up a paint brush, a camera or use software simply out of interest.  Soon to find out that people are willing to pay for your service.

So then you start out charging barley nothing.  $100 for a video.  No big deal, I was doing it for free before anyway.  Yet if it takes you 10 hours to plan, shoot and edit this video, you are only getting paid $10.00/hour.  I'm sure you didn't go into business for yourself to make this type of wage.  Listen to me.  YOUR TIME IS MUCH MORE VALUABLE THAN YOU MAY THINK.  If it were so simple, the customer would do it themselves.  You know why I pay a CPA to handle my taxes?  Because it would take me hours upon hours to complete and I would probably still screw it up.  But my CPA loves numbers and has completed like this thousands of times.  It is not worth my time to take 2 weeks doing something that he can do in a day.  Value your time. 

Another major concern most have is that if they charge too much, no one will use their service.  This is one of the craziest ways of thinking.  There will always be a group of individuals willing to pay more than what you are charging for your service.  Take it from me.  I have learned that the clients that are on a "tight budget" typically are more trouble than what I am being paid.  Not that those who don't have a large amount of money to spend with your company are bad.  There are some great people on a budget.  But when I run the numbers they don't lie.  The ones who questioned my invoice, wanting to get more than what they paid for, were by far the most difficult to work with.  So difficult in fact if I allowed my organization to work with them again, their bill would probably be 30-40% higher what they paid last time.  I know now that it will take MUCH more time to make this customer happy, and my time has a dollar amount to it. 

With that being said, there is a place and time for free or discounted work.  I will often receive opportunities where in exchange for free work, the organization will promote my brand.  But we don't just take these deals with any organization.  If a company has 150 followers on Facebook and expresses that they will promote me for a job that I typically would charge $800 for, that's not a win win situation.  However, a company that has 3,000 followers may be worth the trade.  Those who feel that they are getting a better deal are much more likely to push my content.  As well as return to me when they are looking to pay for the service.  With these "free" trades, you may even find paid work throughout the project.  But always do your homework first.  Some trade deals we make, I look for nothing in exchange.  I simply want to give back.  For me, I love giving back though one of my skill sets rather than digging ditches.  

So in short, stop devaluing your service.  You are a professional with a skill set.  You are only overcharging a customer if you are under-delivering.  See how you can add more value and customers will be lined up to pay your fees.