I had never thought of myself as an artist. I’ve masterfully strung together written words that sometimes people like and sometimes people don’t. I started writing ‘seriously’ about four years ago. I started getting published on highly regarded websites and I was feeling pretty great about my future writing career.
Except one thing was missing. I wasn’t getting paid for any of it. Even though pieces of my heart and soul were earning money for businesses, I wasn’t being compensated at all.
So in addition to trying to build my writing portfolio, I’ve been working full time because I knew writing was going to be a career I was going to have to struggle for. I was going to have to do everything I could to get my content out into the world and just hope that one day I would be paid back in a big way.
There are times in your life as an artist you will have to do certain things for free in order to get some pieces for your portfolio. I completely agree with the fact that we have to pay our dues in order to build and accomplish some sort of notoriety but there is a time where doing everything for free just becomes detrimental.
My wake up call came in the form of a tweet from a writer I respect more than anything, Heidi Priebe.
I think I froze. Maybe it was all of the clapping emojis that caused me to take a moment to read and then re-read the retweet she had posted. It was completely right. Writers, painters, musicians, actors and every other artist out there are made to feel as though we’re lucky anyone is even paying attention to us, let alone them paying us for our creations.
But the thing is they should be paying you. If you have given up everything to be a full-time creative or you’re working a ton of jobs just to achieve your dream career, then you are damn sure worth it to be paid for your time and content.
If you’re making someone money, why does that mean that you’re not entitled to making a generous amount on what you’ve made as well?
What it comes back too is how much YOU believe YOU’RE worth. You have to tell people your price, not the other way around. And if they say no? Then they can kick rocks. Just like there’s another person out there building their portfolio and will do it for free, there’s also another buyer for your art willing to pay. Don’t just settle with the first offer and don’t be afraid to negotiate rates that make sense for both parties.
I’ve struggled so long with writing for free and writing for pay. I have major moments of insecurity when pitching new pieces then negotiating rates because there are times my confidence is low. But it’s reminders like Heidi’s that let me know it’s OK for me to ask for more if I think I’m not being compensated enough.
No matter what you choose, free or paid, do what’s right for you. Then you can really never go wrong. It is, after all, your art.