This post had been on the back burner until I read something by a successful author who was trying the self-publishing route. Said author (who shall remain nameless to protect MY safety) talked about his own venture into self publishing. He gave a long and interesting list of expenses and headaches suffered along the way. Freelancer after freelancer bailed on him at the last minute for flaky reasons. But two stood out.
The first was an artist who was approached to do the cover. While not all of the details were given, concepts were produced, a specific design chosen, revisions were made; but in the end the author felt like it was going to take too long and be too expensive. So the author made his own cover and paid for some touch ups to be done to it. As for the original artist, no money is said to have gone his way.
Our second freelancer, “turned out to be a bargain. I [sic] friend at a publishing company recommended a freelancer who was nine months pregnant. She did not go on vacation and did the job for $20 per hour—about $160 total. Earlier bids for typesetting had been between $1000 and $2000.”
Now, if you're waiting for the part where the author says that he gave her a bonus because he felt both bad about taking advantage of a pregnant woman, and grateful for the services she provided . . . don't hold your breath.
We All Do It
Kind of makes you cringe, doesn't it? But this author is actually a really good guy. He seems to do his best at helping out other authors, in fact the whole point of him sharing his ordeal was to steer others away from the same mistakes. He shares information freely, and in the end only hopes that you'll pick up one of his books. He's an artisan just like you and I, but he's also got bills to pay, a family to take care of, probably even a mortgage or two. If he can get a break, he'll take it even if he does have enough money tucked away on the side to experiment with self-publishing.
This is an unfortunate fact of life, folks. If you don't value your time, no one else will do it for you. In fact, they will knowingly take advantage of you if they think they can get a “bargain.” These same people may very well be members of the artistic community just like you and I. They want their work and time valued and paid for appropriately, but when it comes time to doing the same in kind there's a good chance that it's not going to happen.
I know this sounds a bit pessimistic, but it is Friday, and this is snark. Along with that, this is true in many cases. If you don't stand up for yourself, you will be taken advantage of. I was going to use examples from my own life, from being a freelance graphic designer and doing construction. People that know me are always asking me to bid jobs for them hoping I'll do it on the cheap, and frankly, I usually do. The most recent one I bid in at nearly half the going rate which was still too high for this person. Rather than cutting my price, I wished them luck on getting the job done right.
What You’re Paying For
You see, we have to remember, you're not just paying for the person's time, you are paying for the years and years worth of study and practice that went into them being able to do what they can do. A person might look at a job quote and choke at the price compared to the number of hours spent doing it. Well you're not paying for the hours; you're paying for the experience.
Take a person that knows nothing of the craft and ask them to do the job for you. See how long it takes them and what kind of quality you get out of it. Unfortunately, people don't think in those terms. They think in terms of a Walmart bargain culture where cheap prices come at undervaluing the work used to create said product. They want the best, (or what looks like the best) but they don't want to pay for it.
So as you head out in your freelance ventures, keep that in mind. Do the appropriate market research. Know what price your quality of work is going for, and bid appropriately. Then stick to your guns. It's rather tough to ask for more money after the job is done.
If you really need the money, then you have to do what you have to do. But consider this, in the above typesetting example, if we take the going rate for the job as being $1500, that poor woman would have to do nearly ten jobs before she made what she was worth. On the contrary, had she held out for one person to pay her the appropriate wage, she’d have the same amount of money and would have done one tenth the work.
Please keep this in mind when you become rich and famous and can afford to pay people what they are worth. I know I can’t, that’s why I do everything myself.
Just as a side note, if that driveway looks like a good job to you, please don’t ever touch concrete. EVER. Don’t even look at it. In fact, I’d suggest not walking on it either.