As a designer, there is a huge amount of pressure out there to work for free. I did this a lot starting out, some of it was helpful and some of it wasn't. I'm going to try to show you what was and wasn't helpful to me as far as free work goes. The Bad:
You may remember back from a previous post that I took a design job with no contract and a pretty low rate. I thought it was a great opportunity to get my feet wet and it was for about 2 months. Soon after that, the work that I thought I had agreed to for such a low rate was changing and I was never offered a lot of value for the creativity I was bringing to the table. This was due to the fact that I didn't bring a contract to the table defining our agreement. It was all verbal and it was all up in the air because there was no paper involved. Sidenote: Y'all hear me out when I say this: contract EVERYTHING. Small job? Contract. Job for family? Contract. Huge job? Contract. Things can and will change in whatever you are doing and it's just human nature to squeeze you for as few pennies as they can put into you. Ok, back on track. Here's why this job ended up being bad for me professionally. When the nature of the work started changing to what I wanted to do professionally and was no longer administrative stuff, it took a huge chunk of confidence out of me. My work isn't good enough to be valued monetarily. People don't want to pay for what I'm doing so I might as well take this measly chunk of change. Design isn't important enough to be paid for. I'm just an art monkey putting other people's ideas on paper. All of this was swirling through my mind every day. Even though I was getting paid for this job, it was really detrimental to me and my business!
How did I manage to dig out of that hole?
Lot's of God ordained stuff folks. Remember DigitalWorx Printing? Well the two owners took time to really get to know me, see my work and what I could do and then they clearly stated what I would be doing for them and they started paying me well. What? They put some serious value into what I could bring to their company and let me tell you something, they never let me forget it. Working for these two really skyrocketed my value even though I was doing really boring stuff at first (barcodes, ick).
After regaining my confidence in myself and in the value of design, I went back to the original company I was working with and asked to renegotiate my pay. They flipped out and told me it was probably better that we part ways. It was horrifying. I cried on the playground outside of our apartment complex for like half an hour. And then. I prayed. Peace, reassurance, and worth covered me. God's got this. He's calling you higher.
That opened up the opportunity for me to really get involved in a volunteer project at Severn Run. Here I am a year and a half into the best job I've ever had and it's all been worth it.
I'm reevaluating again. I'm taking another leap of faith. I'm reassessing my worth again in a different industry, on my own, a big plunge. As you can see I've rebranded and redirected myself. Churches & Ministry consultation and design is going to be my focus and that's terrifying, but I'm excited for the journey. Pray for my journey. It's happening now.