Monday, May 20, 2013

Embrace Your Inner Rogue: Get Paid

Today's post is going to be a bit of a departure from focusing on the physical and nutritional side of weight loss. After all, you're weight and fitness are not the only elements that determine your happiness. There's this sneaky little bastard called "Quality of Life" and I'm finding that it's pretty important too. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been experiencing a lot of stress because it feels like my creative career is going nowhere. I can create things all I want, but if I can't figure out how to monetize my creative endeavors or the skills I use to create them, then how can I expect to pay the bills by doing what I love? Yes, dear readers. It would seem I have a few more stats to reroll on this here quest for greatness.

As actors we're taught to take any job that will have us at the beginning of our careers. Get out there, get the experience, get the exposure, and eventually it will fall into place. Maybe I'm luckier than I give myself credit for, but I have no problem finding unpaid gigs. I've been doing them for years. For every paid acting job I've had, I've probably had eight unpaid full scale productions in which I've been abused by directors, other actors, or frankly, just plain knocked around by an overall unprofessional process. I'm not saying I didn't learn from these experiences or didn't benefit at all, but for the most part, I gained roles to put on my resume and nothing else. That's not without value, but at a certain point, you have to ask yourself if it's worth the time and the energy to commit yourself to unpaid pursuits with guaranteed experience vs. working less, but being able to focus all of your energy on getting those elusive paid opportunities. 

This goes for writing as well. I've been so honored to have so many fellow bloggers ask me to join their staff of unpaid writers/reviewers, but at this point, I don't have have any more time to pour into more unpaid work. I'm organizing the future of Project Reroll so that my amazing community of readers can flourish and share what they've learned on their own health journeys. I already review and discuss geeky topics as an occasional guest-host with my friends on the Anomaly Podcast (which you need to check out if you haven't!). Plus, I am currently managing a very lengthy and involved post production process on a web series that I wrote/produced with a friend. When I turn down these unpaid opportunities, I'm not being snobby. There just aren't enough hours in the day for me not to get paid for any more extra time and effort. My dance card is pretty darn full.

I know I'm not the only artist or entrepreneur going through this struggle, but over the last few days I've realized something surprising. I might be the one who is standing in my way. How am I supposed to receive currency in exchange for goods if I'm afraid to place an actual value on my skills. Obviously, waiting for someone to pay me for things that I've very publicly given away for free is a terrible marketing plan. 

So here's my new goal; It's time to embrace my inner rogue. Would Jayne Cobb work for free? Even Han Solo wanted pay for his fair cut for saving Princess Leia from the Death Star. Bronn might give Tyrion color commentary for free but when it comes to his sword, he's paid to use it in Lannister gold. Well boys, step aside. There's a new rogue for hire in town and her name is Anne!

So how to start on this quest? Like any of the other skills I've "rerolled," I started by creating steps to help me break down my overall goal into more manageable bite sized pieces.
  • Step 1: Determine my marketable skills and be prepared to place an actual value on them. For me these would be acting, writing, and creativity/life coaching. I'm going to think very critically about how to turn these skills into marketable business ventures and place actual values on them so that I can charge for my services. When you fear no one will ask you how much you're worth, it doesn't seem worth going to the trouble to price your skills, but if you don't, then you'll be caught with your pants down when someone does! The ensuing frazzlement could lose you the gig... and they may be confused by your lack of pants. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't cut deals for friends or for projects that I really want to do, but then I'll be ready when someone says, well how much do you charge for that? 
  • Step 2: Do some research on what you should charge. If you get confused or nervous about what you can ask for when it comes to compensation, look into what your peers are charging and how they've managed to get paid jobs in their fields. For me this will mean looking at people I know with similar experience levels who are getting paid and seeing how I can emulate or even undercut them when it comes to price. This step comes to you directly from my uncanny ability to "win" at the Auction House in every MMO ever. Time to get some real-life bags of gold. Lok'tar Ogar, people.
  • Step 3: Be prepared to negotiate and to face conflict. You need to accept the fact that with this new great power to get paid for your work will come more responsibility on your part. If people are actually paying you, they'll have every right to be demanding of your time. You'll have to develop firm hand when it comes to scheduling you're time and dealing with clients. You'll need to come to the table with a strong sense of self and what you do. If you can't face conflict productively or negotiate business deals without collapsing in on yourself like a dying star, then being an entrepreneur isn't for you. You are the CEO, the production line, and customer service rep all in one. You'll get all the praise, all the cash, and all the grief so you have to prepare yourself to deal with all of that. 
  • By Wosukoart on Deviant Art
  • Step 4: Update Your Websites/Create a Store. When you embrace your inner goblin and start shamelessly hawking your wares with a hearty, "I got what you need," you'll need somewhere to direct your traffic. For me, that will mean creating a public listing of my services so that I can give someone my business card with a quick pitch and then send them to my website for a more detailed breakdown of what I'm prepared to offer them. This ties in with the first step of figuring out what you can sell, but in this case, you'll also have to think about how you're going to make it the most appealing deal your client can find. 

Clearly I'm at the beginning of this process and I have no business talking like a know-it-all about this stuff, but this is where I am with it right now. I'll post more about this as I move through the steps and hopefully my depression will dissipate as I make a more active effort to handle this stressful issue in my life. I hope my conclusions and my process provide some inspiration if anyone else in a similar conundrum. If you have any advice for me or other readers, please leave it in the comments!

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