Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The value of ME

Recently, on apracticalwedding.com, a stationary designer, Julie from Up Up Creative conducted a one month "pay-what-you-can" experiment. She learned a lot about herself as an artist and business woman, and reading about her experiences and ideas helped me solidify many things that I've been struggling with as a freelance artist. 

The core idea she hit on is, "What's valuable about my business is me." 

Different people can pay me different amounts for the work I do (totally understandable, some theatre companies just don't have the funding that others have). The question is, how to scale the value I give to varying price points. As Julie pondered "If what's valuable about my business is me, how do I create a scale-able set of value propositions? Can I, and do I want to, provide varying amounts of me?"

In my work, I have sometimes found ways to provide varying amounts of me; projects that have fewer props, fewer unusual props, a more flexible time frame etc. I have started to realize though, that there is an amount that is too low; where what I can offer for the money a company has available to pay me, will result in a product that the company is not happy with and a I am not proud of. I can scale back the hours I spend working on a show. I can't scale back the quality of the work that I do. If the number of hours I have to spend on a project will require me to compromise quality in order to get it done, it's not a show I should be agreeing to take on. 

Another element of the same idea, is that I am learning that I have better experiences with people who also see that value of me. I am learning that there is a huge difference between people who hire me because they want my experience and creativity and artistic input, and people who hire me because they have a big project that needs to get done and they don’t feel like doing it themselves. I’m also learning that the amount someone can pay does not correlate with the way I am going to be treated, and while I need the people who can pay a larger amount, I will make an effort to work with people on more limited budgets if I know I am going to be treated well and appreciated.

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