Exposure sucks

9:00 AM

Are you a creative who spend more time than anything trying to explain to people that what you enjoy doing for a living is also your job?

Or are you a person who think that everything on the internet should be available for free? Or that artists should know better than ask  to be paid until they are famous enough to "deserve it"

If you are a creative or artist, I feel for you...big time. If you belong to the latter tribe...GET REAL already!

I've spend a significant portion of my life working as a freelancer and I've also spent nearly two decades engaging myself in one thing or another online. From being a community leader on the now sadly defunct iVillage platform, to writing a blog and now making it as an artist.
What amaze and/or baffle me the most, is how people, now more than ever, feel entitled to get just about everything for free on the internet.

Those same people are also the one that crib when social medias, blogs and websites start putting more ads, and then crib some more about how unfair it is to have the option to pay to make the ads disappear. Why? Because they grew under the illusion that the internet is this amazing make believe world of freebies.

Running a website takes money

I hate to break it to any of you, but for anything you get to read on screen, anywhere big or small, there is a lot of work going backstage.
It can be one single individual like myself, working hours and hours of my day, painting, editing, writing, taking pictures and yep promoting my work. Or it can be a small (or big company) hiring 1-2-3 or 10 or 20 people to keep the site running. 

Do you think those people should just be glad they work for an awesome brand, and not expect to be paid? Yep, I didn't think so either. 

So if you aren't in a place to be able to afford to pay a subscription to remove ads from let's say YouTube, it's ok, but don't whine about the fact it will run ads. Those ads are what keep not only YouTube up, but also pays the people who monetised their channel (let's face it they spent hours making that "free tutorial")

The starving artist myth need to die

Last year or so, I shared a great book I read called "Real artists don't starve" by Jeff Goins (the link to that book is an Amazon affiliate link by the way).

The book starts with the author reminding us that Michelangelo was a millionaire in his time, and at the head of a company. 
What people conveniently try to ignore, is that he didn't paint all his greatest master pieces alone, he had a lot of employees working for him. 
In today's terms, he would have been an entrepreneur who created a brand around his name and grew it into a big business. Research shows that he never down priced his worth or gave discounts and freebies, in fact he was one of the first who insisted being PAID during his apprenticeship because he knew what value he brought to the table. 

The lesson to be learned, is that underselling yourself is never a good idea, and letting people walk all over you because they think you shouldn't be charging as much as you do is even worse. 

Be a good friend and stop asking for a discount

The worst offenders in the world of "I should get it for free" are the family and friends of the artist or entrepreneur. 

Why should it be though? If you think that your friend is talented, and you want to support her, don't ask her to give you her service and product for free, pay for it, and have the gratification of having contributed to her success story.
Remember that post I wrote about all of us being patrons and investors? I meant it then, I still mean it. 

Exposure doesn't pay the bill

You wouldn't believe the amount of people, and even companies that still believe a "small" artist or blogger should focus on their growth and accept "payments" in form of exposure. 

As a blogger, I still get several emails a month asking if I would be interested in writing a post about a product, or insert a "do-follow" link on an old blog post of mine in exchange for "exposure". Once upon a time I used to delete those emails and ignore, but I grew so fed up with them, that I am now answering every single one of these to remind them about proper manners and business etiquette....because ENOUGH already! 

Don't know what I'm talking about? This is what my  "Sponsored post DOs and DON'Ts" was all about. 

Exposure never lasts, a promoted post causes a spike in traffic for about 24-48 hours in most case, and then if you are lucky, you gained one or two followers in the process, it never justifies the 4-5 hours of work you put in creating that post and promoting it. 

Would you pay your doctor in exposure?

Or your plumber, carpenter, handyman, or the grocery shop owner? Better yet, would you tell them that they aren't famous enough yet to warrant being paid for their services? 
So why is it too many expect paintings, digital art downloads or even online classes to be free? 

Over the years I have been told that it is because "art isn't real work", there is this freaking notion that everybody can do it, so that means nobody should really charge for it. Or, even more ludicrous : 

"Doctors and lawyers went to a REAL school so they deserve to be paid"

In the end, I think a lot of people think artists and creatives do not work "hard enough" to be paid, or assume this : 

If you love what you do, it's not a job, it's a hobby

There is still that crazy notion that work is something you should dislike profoundly, and for which you never get paid enough despite your hard work. 
And, by extension, the moment you love your work, this isn't really work and you are kidding yourself into thinking you deserve to be paid for it. 

Go find a real job already! 

Ok, FINE! The problem is that there is nothing that states that you have to sacrifice your happiness to make a living, and if you are one of those believing that lie, you should sit down, introspect and ask yourself if there isn't a better job for you out there. One you love so much that you will never mind sacrificing your nights and weekends for. 

Breaking news! Most artists and entrepreneurs pretty much work around the clock and way beyond the 9-5 job, and in the first few years, the pay is pretty low (made even worse by people who assume their work should be free). 

There is a saying that says that to be happy, you need to create a life from which you don't need a vacation from. 
I personally think it should be anybody's priority and goal in this world. 

If you are an artist or creative

Don't let people decide your worth, don't feel bad setting prices you think are fair for the amount of work you put it. Stick to your guns, and remind yourself that those who wish you would work for free or for cheaper, are the ones who can't afford you. 

This simply means they aren't your target audience and clientele, and there is NOTHING wrong for aiming at selling your craft and services to people belonging to a certain income bracket. Remember that Michelangelo wasn't working for the blue collars, he was targeting his work to the well off classes and nobility would you blame him for it? 

If you are a potential buyer, and patron

Remember that it is ok to not be able to afford just about anything just yet, that it is not the artist's fault if you aren't in a position to buy their art. 
If you love something strongly enough, you'll sort your priorities to save for it. If you feel the need to crib and complain about the price, it simply means you don't love it enough, or that there is a temporary setback into making that dream purchase. 

So, don't ask for the discount, value the artist, and spread the word about what they do, because there might be someone around you who would be interested in knowing about them. 
The good thing about being a good patron and supporter, isn't tied to making a purchase, spreading the word is free, and usually always brings good returns for everyone, complaining only brings on pain and remorse. (Law of attraction anyone)


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