It starts off innocently enough. Friends-of-a-friend ask you to make a website for their new business, a flyer for their upcoming show, to take pictures at their party, or head-shots for their future acting career. Sure, why not? The question about money never comes up or if it does, you awkwardly say, “Just get me a drink the next time we’re out.”
Then, networking happens.
Your friends tell a friend. Who tells two friends. And you start getting the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend’s friend hitting you up. This time when the issue of money comes up, you fall into the “try before you buy” pitfall that all young/eager freelancers do. If you’re lucky, they have a budget (i.e. someone else’s money) and they insist on paying. If not, it’s rinse, lather, repeat. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.
As a busy student, I fell into this cycle doing event photography. “Sure, why not?” was my go to phrase. I’d occasionally mix in some graphic design work. All to, “build my book.” All for Freelance.
But then I got paid.
And everyone likes getting paid.
But getting paid did more than put some extra money in my barren pockets, it showed me my own worth. The fear of “not doing a good enough job to get paid” suddenly subsided. The once annoying feedback from teachers about presentation and professionalism, suddenly made sense. It also validated my feelings that I should put those jobs on my resume. Hell, if one person felt I was worth $100 an hour, others will too.
And once you start getting paid, start keeping all your receipts. But that’s a topic for another post (“Creative Accounting 101” – hint: under $600)