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1 Giuseppe: So why should I give you pizzas for your party for free?
2 Ishmael: It’ll be good exposure for you!
3 Giuseppe: You want me to work for this “exposure” instead of money?
4 Ishmael: Sure!
4 Giuseppe: Well I guess I can make the pizzas while naked...
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Doing something creative is a tough career choice. People constantly undervalue your work, undervalue the amount of time and effort and mental energy it takes to design and produce something, as well as undervaluing the long years of experience that go into being able to perform the work competently and well in the first place.
The result is unfortunately that a lot of people don't want to pay for creative work - either not pay enough or not pay at all.
Also, a lot of people think that just by using your creative work, they are giving you something valuable - exposure. They figure that if they use your creative work and other people see it, those other people will pay you to do something for them.
Guess what? It doesn't work that way.
Let me use wedding photography as a concrete example, as I'm experienced with photography forums and blogs and people trying to make a career out of it.
There are many, many instances of people approaching a wedding photographer with a "deal". Do photos of our wedding for no cost, and in return we'll post your photos on all our social media, thus giving you heaps of "exposure"! The unsaid assumption being that this exposure will make lots of other people come to your for their wedding photos. What an awesome deal!
Except you know what? All those other people will expect their wedding photos for free too, in return for more exposure. None of them will want to pay you for what their friends got for free. If you're not willing to pay for creative work, what makes you think anyone else is?
"Exposure" is worth exactly what you pay for it: Nothing. Exposure doesn't pay your rent, or your electricity, or your grocery bills. It doesn't keep you warm and off the streets at night and fed.
As the joke goes: People die of exposure.
If someone needs help fixing the plumbing in their home, they call a plumber. Do they say to the plumber: "If you fix my pipes for free, I'll tell my friends what a good plumber you are, and they'll all want to hire you."? What do you think the plumber would do? That's right, laugh in their face and refuse to do the job until they cough up hard cash.
People need a plumber and people pay a plumber because they can't do the job themselves.
People seem to have a different attitude to creative work. For some reason they think. "Well, I could take photos at the wedding myself. I just don't feel like it. I'll get a wedding photographer, but obviously they're not doing real work, so I'll offer them exposure instead of money."
Ha ha. Guess what? These people can't photograph a wedding in a way that won't be a disaster. A wedding photographer has skill and experience and knows what the hell they're doing. And knows it's a full day of intense work, followed by a week or more of going through all the photos with an experienced eye and editing them with an experienced technical knowledge of how to do it and an experienced artistic knowledge of how to do it right. People aren't paying for a monkey to click a button. They're paying for all that knowledge and all that experience and all that sheer effort.
Or at least they should be paying for it.
Repeat the above story for graphic designers. For music composers and performers. For visual artists. For comic strip and comic book artists and writers. For sculptors. For portrait photographers and landscape photographers and any type of photographers. For authors. For actors. For dancers.
If you want creative work done, pay for it. Pay decently for it.
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