For the last day or so, in a forum that I’ve been spending a little time in, I’ve been involved in 2 separate ongoing debates about 2 different subjects that both boil down to the same basic principle. That principle is this: In any kind of work that you do, you should get paid what you feel like your time is worth, and you shouldn’t accept any less. Now I understand if you have to work at a crummy day job that you hate in order to earn a lousy paycheck just so that the bills can get paid. I get that, but if that describes you, I sincerely hope that you’re exploring other options on the side in order to create a better situation for yourself.
To give you an example of what I’m talking about though, let’s say that as a hobby, you like to paint. You’re passionate about it, and you take it seriously. You have an easel and a room full of canvases. Some have finished artwork on them, some are blank, and others are half finished. Your toolbox is a collection of trays and buckets that contain a wide assortment of brushes.
You have invested money into paints and oils and have invested an equal amount of time into carefully selecting colors in the most expensive varieties that you can afford. Your friends and family have your paintings hanging on their walls from where you’ve given them artwork for birthdays and holidays – artwork that you were very proud of and put extensive amounts of time, emotion and labor into. Your friends and family love them even more than you do, and they appreciate the gifts more than you know.
As much as you love to paint (and you love it as much as anything in the world), it’s time consuming. More than that, it is exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you finish a painting that you know you put your very best effort into, you’re very proud of it, and you’re eager to put it on display somewhere. You want to show it off, and with good reason. You deserve it after all the work you put into it. It’s worthy of being shown off.
One day, you’re contacted by someone who got your number from a mutual friend, and they’re interested in contracting you for work. They represent a company that sells artwork in high-end showrooms and galleries across the country. You’re familiar with the company and are flattered that they would sell your work in their galleries. You would consider it an honor to simply have your paintings on display in their stores. You can hardly contain your excitement over the thought of customers walking into those stores, seeing and becoming so inspired by your paintings that the people purchase them. There’s not a piece of artwork in these showrooms that sells for anything less than $2,500 with the average price of the paintings they sell being around $6,000.
The rep says that the company will pay you a flat fee to be negotiated later for every painting that you produce, but they need for you to produce a certain number of paintings each month. No problem. You think to yourself “Finally! I’m going to get paid to do what I love!” Your excitement is spilling out of you in all kinds of ways. You want to jump up and down like a young child. The rep asks for your address, and says they’ll contact you.
You get right to work, churning out new paintings faster than you ever have before while thinking to yourself how great it is and how you should be able to afford to quit your lame day job soon. You’ve never been so motivated. You keep wondering how much they’re going to pay you per painting, and you can’t stop thinking about how you’re going to make a lot of money. All of the things that you’re going to do with the money keep running through your head. You’re going to pay off your credit cards, pay off your car, and find a nicer place to live. Maybe then you can actually start putting some money into savings, and perhaps you can even do a little traveling, you know, for… inspiration… to paint new things… yeah.
A week goes by, and you haven’t heard anything from the rep. Two more days go by, and as you go about your routine, you check the mail. You begin sifting through it, and you see a large, official looking envelop with the company’s logo on it. You frantically tear into it and find a contract inside! It’s on company stationary and looks very official. As you flip through it, you figure it must be at least a dozen pages long. Included is the paperwork that will designate you an independent contractor, and the corresponding tax information. Wondering with much anticipation how much money you’re going to make, you flip through again and find the number!
Your heart… drops. They’re only going to pay you $20 per painting. “What?!” you shreak. You’re so overcome with emotion that you feel like your throat is going to close up. You’re outraged, heartbroken, and bewildered all at the same time. You wonder aloud to yourself. “Why? Why so little when they sell them for so much?” You can’t contain all of the emotions that you’re feeling, and your eyes begin to tear. You can’t even think. You don’t know what to do next.
Your paintings mostly consists of large, complex works that take hours to complete, if not a couple of days. You can’t give up that much time for $20 per piece of work. Or can you? You start to rationalize, thinking “Well, I do this all the time anyway. I guess getting paid $20 per painting is better than not getting paid at all. After all, it is $20 per painting more than what I’m making now.” You know your time is worth so much more than that. You’re good at this! You could probably shop around and find someone else who’s willing to pay you more.
Although, you don’t have the time for that, and you don’t have the contacts. You wouldn’t even know where to start or who to call. Then you start thinking about how many paintings you could produce each week and figure if you stick to less complex works, you could perhaps scratch out an extra $100 a week by doing this after work each day (since now you won’t be able to quit the lame day job) and at least 1 full day on weekends. You decide to call your best friend to talk it over……………….
Seriously. Just stop. Do NOT settle for less than what you’re worth and what your time is worth! You’ll never forgive yourself, and eventually you’ll hate that thing (in this case, painting) that you once loved to do because now you’ll resent it for not earning you more money than what you thought it should have. Find out what the market value is for your product or service and demand no less! Determine what your time is worth to you and demand no less! The internet is a great resource full of virtually endless amounts of information. If you can’t decide on your own what your time is worth, then one way or another, you can and must find a way to determine what it is worth. Don’t lose out due to not putting in the time to do the necessary homework. Please, don’t settle for less than what your time is worth.