“They [creative professionals] don’t set up a business for the money – they are genuinely interested in something and view their work as a lifestyle choice.”
– Alison Branagan
This quote is from a Guardian article, ‘Young creative entrepreneurs: five building blocks for start-up success’. The article does have some useful advice, but this quote gives a completely wrong impression about creative professionals, such as designers, especially if taken out of context.
You see, it suggests that creative professionals, unlike other people, care only about being creative and enjoying the work.
The danger is that clients reading it won’t value the work done by designers and other creative professionals, if they think that the love of being creative is reward enough for the work.
I had one such client recently: the scope of work promised three initial logo ideas, and after receiving those three ideas the client expressed disappointment that when I was “in the creative zone” I didn’t get “carried away” and provide an extra six designs!
Of course, since the client cited this as one of the reasons for not wanting to pay for the work at all, it’s an extreme example of a client undervaluing the work of creative professionals.
Naturally you would expect, or at least hope, that someone running a design business would enjoy the work they do. But you would also expect that of a lot of professions.
You would assume that someone choosing to become a vet would like animals. Or a mechanic would be interested in how cars work.
Does someone taking enjoyment from their work mean they deserve to be paid less? Or not at all?
It’s likely that someone enjoying their work will produce work of a higher standard than if they had no interest in it. Doesn’t that make it more valuable, not less?
Would the client who expected me to triple my workload for free similarly expect the mechanic giving their car a service to enjoy their work so much that they get carried away and provide an MOT, a brand new set of tyres and full tank of petrol completely free? Perhaps not.
But if you wouldn’t expect that kind of service from one profession, why expect it from another?
Design is a job
Design is an awesome job and I love what I do. But it is a job like any other.
Like everyone else, creative professionals have bills to pay. And like any other, creative businesses need to make a profit to remain in business.
So there needs to be a balance. Enjoying the work and being fairly paid for it are both vital parts of a successful design business.
P.S. Yep, I’ve borrowed the title from Mike Monteiro’s book*; I couldn’t resist as it so perfectly summed up what I wanted to say. It’s an awesome book, full of great advice and I’d recommend it to anyone running a creative business.
Any links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links, which means if you buy through them I might get a small commission (that will probably be spent on pretty fonts). This is at no extra cost to you and I only share products and services that I use and love.
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