some uncomfortable advice

I've debated for a long time if I should write this post. I think anyone who has written a post like this feel that way. These days it's hard to determine what creative work is worth with everyone having VSCO, boomerang or any other "design" app, just about anyone can call themselves a designer. And while I don't subscribe to the "you have to go to college to get a good job" mentality there is something to be said for creative worth. Be it your years of experience, the extra things you have gone out of your way to learn about, apprenticing or just simply working your way through the rungs of bullshit to get to where you are today. Those experiences, challenges and years all add up. It's important to know our worth!

I recently had an experience that put this all into perspective for me. Watching another creative ask for services without reasonable compensation and then being rather rude about it. Now there's a lot of places I want to go with this and I guess the first one is don't be rude. The world is a small place and chances are that those six degrees of separation will one day cross your path again. It's been said that you attract a lot more bees with honey than you do vinegar. 
The more important part here is if you are going to ask someone for a service you should expect to pay them what they are worth and if you can't or don't want to, then move along. This should also apply to your friends. Say if your friend is a photographer it would be rather presumptuous to assume that they would photograph your wedding for free. Working out deals and asking for favors is totally up to you, but recognize what you are asking for - this is how they make their living. Friendships and businesses should stay separate if you aren't willing or can't afford to truly support their craft. 

I think it can be really hard as a creative to know what we're worth or if we're worth it. Sometimes we feel like we should take on a free project for a friend, family member or someone else for whatever's hard, but I often err on the side of don't take these projects. Most of the time they end up being more headaches they we initially anticipate and that can lead to all kinds of disasters. But taking on free projects or not charging what we know we're worth really damages the whole creative world. Selling ourselves short or thinking we're not worth what someone else is worth cheapens all designers. People will become accustomed to great work for great discounts and when they go to find another designer and are quoted much higher will feel like that's outrageous and could even end up being a dick to the designer over it. As humans it's part of our nature to want to feel needed, important and valued. By constantly offering discounted work, or never charging what you really should be you are making it that much harder for all designers. So charge what you're worth!

There are so many more things I could say about worth and value which would probably ultimately lead to respect, so I'll leave you with respect yourself, respect others and respect what you do. You're a representative for more than just yourself, don't be the reason someone has a sour experience.