Breaking Down the Stigma of Paying for Creative Work

Hey there, reader! Creative photographer/illustrator person here.

I make a living out of doing personal and creative work for clients. And no lie, I absolutely LOVE it. At one point in your life, you might end up paying someone like me to do something special for you. So before you spend that cash dollar, there’s little something that we should honestly talk about. And truly, it’s a conversation we can all benefit from.

Initially, I shied away from topics like this because talking about money can make people feel uncomfortable. But straight up, let there be NO shame in this conversation. Let’s have some real talk. Let’s talk about paying for creative work and why it’s totally worth it. And why it’s NOT okay to haggle or harass your creative for their prices. But first things first, let’s shift our perspectives to the same page.

There’s a HUGE difference in not being able to “afford something right now” and saying something is “too expensive”. It’s okay to not have the money, it really is, let there be no shame in that. Life is expensive. When we generally say something is “too expensive”, we aren’t seeing its VALUE. The issue then? Our perception.

The reality is: there is such an indispensable, unique value in creative work. I want you to be so assured and confident of the service you’re investing in that you’re stoked to spend the cash on something that will genuinely mean something to you. I’m going to break down the sentiment and logic behind the price points you’re given so it doesn’t feel like you’re being blind-sided. (I will be using photography as a general example, but you can literally replace the context for Perceived creative situation you are in.) So let’s dive in:

Why creative work is WORTH IT.

It lasts a life-time. Think about your beautiful wedding photos. Your family albums. The frames around the fireplace. These aren’t just dusty heirlooms, these are YOUR memories of the most precious moments in your life. They’re priceless. They’re going to go up in your home for most likely, the rest of your life. Your great-great-grandchildren will be oogling over your wedding photos. This kind of creativity celebrates our personal history – a visual time machine to go back to the exact moment which would have been otherwise faded by our aging memories.

Personal touch. I know the love and effort that goes on behind the scenes. I deeply care about my clients and want them to have the best experience and best product. I take alot of time making sure what my client gets is TRUE to them. The creative work you’re getting is original, once-off and made by a pair of thoughtful hands. Just for you.

Expensive tools. Let me be real with you, my camera costs a lot. So do my lenses. So does my editing software. My time. Petrol. The apps and services I use to deliver my work excellently and professionally. And that’s just the beginning of it. Good tools are needed for a good job and I want to do a great job.

Time. Creatives spend years training and honing their skill. Then we spend hours on a commission for a client. Then we get asked for a discount and told our prices are too high. When we go to the doctor for an hour, a consultation can easily be R1000+. When we go out with a group of friends, the bill can easily be R1000+. We don’t haggle the doctor or restauranter for their time and service, we respect it with the payment we exchange. So, why do we do this to creatives?

It’s a luxury item. Not a necessity. That trip to Thailand or that designer leather hand-bag is not going to feed you, but it’s a pretty cool thing to have and save for. These items make life feel a little more exciting and honestly, who doesn’t want nice things?

So the next time you’re booking your wedding photographer, hiring a designer or getting some sweet creative work done, I hope you feel good about spending that cash dollar. I hope your perspective is refreshed, that you don’t feel slighted and that you truly appreciate the artistic value of what you’re purchasing. That you become a vocal advocate and patron for hand-made, heartfelt work. The world needs more passionate, pro-creative people to end the unnecessary stigma and haggling. Maybe you’re one of them! 😉