LESSON ONE! You need to charge enough to make a reasonable life for yourself. Period. DO NOT look at the bottom line for the project and compare it to what you can afford. You are not the client. You have no idea what value they put on your work. If you put a very low value on the project, your client will not appreciate the bargain they got. They will assign you a low value. After all, you did.
I had no idea what I was doing. How do you figure out what to charge? OH MY HEAVENS! People won’t pay that much! If only I’d known.
Market research? What’s that? I’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking at how I charge for my work. You should too.
The good news is that I’d had a business before. Clothing repair. I had a price list. Hemming. Replace Zipper. Sew on buttons. Etc. Hey, I was 12. It was good practice. I never wanted to babysit or wait tables. Not that there’s anything wrong with those jobs either. Just not for me.
Working from home on Calligraphy projects, I made every single mistake in the “book”. If only I’d known there was a book. If only I would have read it. What, you may ask is this “book”? It’s a Metaphor. OK? It’s all of the books about business that you don’t want to read. It’s learning about business. One lesson at a time. Hopefully before you’ve been bitten in the ass enough times that you can’t sit down anymore.
By this time I was working at a furniture store doing layouts for ads. At least I was drawing…furniture…for ads. I hated my boss. He was an unreasonable jerk. I was being treated as a “Pile On”. If you don’t know what that is, then you may very well be one. I learned about this from “What men don’t tell women about business: opening up the heavily guarded alpha male playbook.” by Christopher Flett. Women, and maybe men too, you should get this book and read it, NOW. Thanks Mr. Flett. You taught me a lot. A “Pile On” is someone that wants to be seen as “nice” and will accept any unreasonable task piled on to her (usually) desk.
Well, that job didn’t last long. Time to put it on the line and claim my own business. I was strongly motivated. And you. You’re an artist, right? You need to spend your time honing technique, right? Business is for those button-down types and that’s not you, right? If you’ve got someone who can support you while you create, that’s amazing. You should appreciate how lucky you are. Otherwise, you’d better learn how to make it pay.