One of the most frequent questions I’m always asked is if what I do will make me any money.
Let me rephrase that.
Will what I do make me any REAL money?
Yes it will.
Whenever money comes up with what I do I used to get squeamish. I didn’t like talking about money no matter if I have a lot of it or a little of it. I didn’t like talking about it because it makes people act funny and different. Having that mindset was very immature in my opinion.
I used to not know what I would charge for my services but now I do know what I charge and I’m unapologetic as fuck about it. I want you to be the same about what you do too. Let’s peel this topic back with some myths about creativity and money.
You don’t have to starve. You’re not a sellout if you ask for payment of your services. That’s dumb as fuck and backwards. Painters in the renaissance were rich as fuck. Michaelangelo the painter was wealthy as shit because he charged for his art and didn’t do shit for free outside of his team.
There’s this belief that you have to do creative shit for free starting out so people can have access to your work easily since you’re giving it out for free. I just have one question in regards to that.
Why is that a thing? Who the fuck do you owe? You don’t owe nobody shit. Charge what you feel your services are worth.
There’s always exceptions to the rule. If I was a music producer and Kendrick Lamar heard my production somewhere and wanted a specific beat that he heard and it’s the biggest opportunity of my beat making career I’m giving him that free beat. It’s a gamble because it may not be a hit and it may not make it to the actual album or get used but it’s a risk you take because the potential payoff is big and you can build a relationship with him and his team. If he wants to work with you again after that you charge. You’re getting something in return that's valuable.
But back to the “Why.” Why is this a thing. Who made up this fake right of passage that requires you to give away your creative services for free? Why are we acting like it’s an internship? Did you know people who have paid internships get jobs at a higher percentage than people with unpaid internships? True story.
Why are you afraid to say "This costs?" Is it because we will view ourselves as selfish if we ask for payment for the shit we create? You’re not selfish. You’re a perfectly sane human if you ask for payment for providing a service.
Let me talk to the people who always wondered why local artist in their respective scene charge for their work even if they’re your friend. The reason why an artist charge for their work is not because they’re greedy. It’s because one, it’s a return on investment. Some creatives do things that involves supplies and equipment. It’s not just about if you’re good at something never do it for free (Although that’s true). The money brings better opportunities to make better art. A artist doesn’t ask for money for the sake of making money they ask for money to be able to make better art. To make their shit you claimed that was dope even better for you and so they can quit their side job and work on it full time so they can give you a better quality of it more often. I just don’t understand how when a artist shit is free it’s dope but when there’s a price tag on it it’s not as dope. Make it make sense lord.
Back to the creative who’s reading this and afraid to say “My shit cost money.” When you continue to throw free events or give away free paintings, or give away free music you’re essentially saying your work and time is worthless. This is the standard you’re setting and subconsciously people are going to think that. Working for free is not going to lead to anything. If you do something for free you better be able to leverage it in the future. If not, then it wasn’t worth it. There's a reason that artists on T.D.E don't give away free music. In the words of The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase "Everything's Got A Price."
So what if someone isn’t buying your books or buying your skin products. DON’T FOLD. CHARGE SOMETHING. ANYTHING. You put time into what you do. It’s worth SOMETHING. How do you expect anyone to value your work if you don't put value on it?
If you’re scared to say your price outright here are 3 magic words you can use…..
WHAT’S. YOUR. BUDGET?
If your price is too high for someone and you wanna throw a play this is what you ask. This will immediately show if a customer is serious. Even if they give you a number and made it seem final throw out your number and see what happens. Negotiating isn’t illegal. It’s harmless. Even if you come off a couple bucks of your price to throw a play at least you’re still getting paid. Producer Zaytoven is notorious for this. He negotiated with upcoming artist. He’d ask them their budget and he’d work with them because he saw that they were serious about investing in themselves and career. If you can't come to an agreement just bow out gracefully and say "I'm sorry but I can only do it at this price. I appreciate you for inquiring about my services." Just always be professional about it. Recommend them to someone else who may be in their price range too. Show love and throw some business to a fellow creative.
Also you don't wanna go too far from your price if you negotiate. For example if you're videographer and you charge $1500 to do weddings and you throw a play for $400 (Which is insane and too nice). What's gonna happen is when the people involved in the wedding recommend your services to someone that $400 price tag will come back to haunt you. How? You think a person who will have $1500 to spend is gonna go to you? They're not. You're now the $400 wedding guy. They're gonna go to the person that charges $1500 or above because damn near everyone believes the more expensive it is the better it is. They think more money equates to better quality and you've just fucked yourself. It doesn't matter how great those photos came out and how much better you are than the person who charges $4000 for weddings. The person who charges $4000 is gonna get chose over you because they've set a high value for their services and customers notice that. Just be careful with how you negotiate.
If someone is serious about your work they will invest in it and it will mean more to them because they’ve invested in it. Giving away free shit devalues it and makes it difficult to charge more later. Working for free thinking it’s gonna give you more exposure is like running on a treadmill because usually the people who you give our work free to and think they’re gonna help you gain exposure is looking for exposure just like you so your work is really going nowhere. A person who bought something is more likely to share it than a person that received something for free. That’s because the person who bought it made an investment of their hard earned money.
I think you get the point so fuck it I’ll end it like this.
Potential exposure don’t pay rent. Charge these mothafuckas.