Hello! This week we have another guest blog from A. L. Michaels. Always glad to welcome her voice here at The Thriving Creative. Without any further ado…
After having a conversation with a friend who’s recently become a self-employed artist- and as yet, has not freaked out about the insecurity and living day to day that comes with such a career, I hit on two main points. The same two we’ve been talking about over and over again:
Know Your Worth
This isn’t just about knowing how much your work costs and how much you should be making, but knowing how much your time is worth. I have a severe issue turning down work, mainly because, as a young creative, I’ve been sucked into The Glorification of Busy. We should be working. We should be working our arses off, because we have loans, and we’re artists, and things should be tough. Which is probably why I’m currently typing this in my pyjamas with a chest infection. If we know how much we’re worth, and we hold out for that, even if it seems like we won’t make as much- we are getting the customers that deserve us, we are investing in people who will continue to invest in us, and we can do three projects and get paid well, instead of fifteen projects to get the same amount, which when you factor in the amount spent on travel and caffeine, means you’re at a loss. Work less, and work smart. And look after yourself.
I also recently found price guidelines on what I do, so find out what other people, charge, or better yet, find out from clients what they normally pay. Somehow, finding out a standard has excused me from saying ‘Oh, well, he charges that, but maybe I’m not as good as him’. If you’re doing a certain job, for a certain amount of time, you deserve to get paid the right amount. Don’t sell yourself short, don’t be embarrassed to ask for more, and don’t feel bad about turning down work. You’re going to be in this business for a long time. Burning out won’t help anyone.
This is more the ‘life’ part in the work/life balance. Everyone, not just artists, is having to make sacrifices right now. In an ideal world I could have a swanky gym membership and an organic vegbox delivered to my house every week. But am I willing to work more and forsake my meet ups with friends or my dinners out for that? Not right now. Know what you need, know what you want, and know what isn’t necessary. Everyone’s doing it! Especially in the run up to particularly expensive holiday.
If you really want tot do a project and you know it won’t bring in the bacon, is it worth it? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes the passion and excitement you feel for a project will outweigh the panic about money. In which case, knowing yourself will come in handy- knowing how to adapt and live cautiously in a way that works for you is important. So make a little back-up plan. ‘Here’s how I’ll live if I absolutely need to.’
There’s nothing like a plan, is there?
A little update on my money diet: I’m slowly working my way into saving, each month is building up better and better. I’ve had a few slips; the drunken buy of a second bottle of wine, a few too many stops by the co-op to make dinner because I didn’t have the forethought to defrost things. Thinking ahead and making a plan- that’s where the power lies.
A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. Because you can never learn enough. She’s currently the Writer in Residence for Red Door Studios in East Ham, and her debut novel Wine Dark, Sea Blue is available to buy in hard copy, and on kindle. Not that she’s sick of talking about it or anything. Look out for the lit fest Words With Edge coming up in January. @wordswithedge
Many thanks to Andi for her latest post.
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