Thursday, February 10, 2011


No, that’s not a typo. I don’t mean fReelancing, which I’ve decided can imply that one is either willing or expected to work for free. I mean feelancing; independent contractors deserve fair pay for their skills and products. The need for the Gainfully Unemployed to set competitive rates to secure work can lead us to go too low, fearing we’ll lose the job, or too high, perhaps because we’re overconfident or not up to speed on the going rates in our industries.

We might get asked to do a project for free, or at a pennies per hour rate, as a trial. Or because of anticipated volume of work, we’re expected to agree to a far lower rate than usual. Offering discounts to a good client is one thing. Undervaluing your time/skill is quite another.

Sometimes we take a project that seems fairly priced, but, like those 1 credit college courses that required more work than a 3 credit course, take more time/effort/frustration than expected, so our rate per hour is less than anticipated. Hopefully there’s still something to learn and some benefit received from those experiences.

For on camera and VO talent, usage is another payment issue. You may get a fair or even great hourly rate for the shoot, but instead of a reasonable buyout period (such as 1 year, trade use only), the client wants use in perpetuity…either in a specific medium like the Internet or even all media known or unknown.

The client benefits from unlimited access to your images without paying you a reasonable sum for that privilege. You, on the other hand, may be prevented from booking any other gigs in that product category…because you have a competing ad out there. Let’s say you do an unlimited usage print job for XYZ coffee. The next time you audition for a coffee-- or maybe even a beverage-- print or on camera job that could very likely pay more than the job you did and include a buyout, you’ll very likely have to list your conflicts. So I’ve turned down a couple of auditions because I’m just not comfortable closing myself off to future work. My goal is to build a career, not close myself off from opportunities.

Other times we may call ourselves feelancers, but aren’t bringing in any clients, jobs or revenue. Or we’re not getting paid what we’re worth. How long are you willing to pursue a business where your hourly rate averages out to minimum wage or less? Or when what you think is diligent pursuit of clients yields some interest in the form of meetings or discussions, but no new business?

Feelancing/owning your own business is about bringing in reasonable fees.

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