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Freelancing post – A Project’s Value

Yesterday I came across a post on a LinkedIn group from an illustrator asking for some thoughts to help her decide whether to take a particular job. Oddly, this made me remember a board game my family played growing up.

It was called Careers. The goal of the game was to be the first to make up the right amount of points in different areas – Fame, Money and Happiness. You had 60 points to divide between them, in any way you chose. So you could hedge your bets and go 20/20/20, but if you wanted, you could put more points on your Fame goal, for example, and less on your Happiness (though the other way around sounds more rewarding!)

It was a brilliant game, and only got more so once I got older and got to enjoy how delightfully cynical it was (“Let your boss win at golf. Salary goes up 2000”)

But what a perfect picture of weighing value! If you are a freelancer, paying the rent will of course be a primary concern, but every endeavour we do – be it a job, a competition, a personal project – must give us value in return for our work. We need to make that 60.

So if you’re going to do a personal project that is not (at least currently) paying off financially or profile-wise (although please promote your personal projects!), then it needs to fill a high personal enjoyment quotient for you. Or if there is a job that you really don’t want to do – it’s not your thing, or the client is giving off warning signals that they’re going to be difficult to work with – then it should pay higher to make up for it! This is why many freelancers quote high rates on jobs they don’t want – because either it’s a painless way to walk away, or you get a job that, while difficult or unenjoyable, is worth it because it pays very well.

Of course what counts as value will differ for everyone – although I don’t think Happiness, Fame or Money are a bad place to start! We all need all three in our careers – and bear in mind when I say Fame, I’m not referring to the many requests to work for free for “exposure” that we get all the time. But perhaps there’s a comic anthology going on that is likely to get some press and lets you work with some established pros. Or a collaborative themed drawing blog that won’t get you any money, but will get eyes on your work. Be wise, but be open – there are different kinds of value. But you have to know which of them are important to you, and how much of it is needed to make a project worthwhile!