Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Money, Money, Money!!!

Let's consider the reality that artists need to make an income and that financial flow can come from a variety of resources: a "day job," selling your art/skills as an artist, wealthy benefactors, grants and stipends. The "where" often is not as difficult a concept for most of my artist friends as "how much," as in what amount is a respectable going rate for sale of artist works. Unfortunately, that depends on the skill of the artist, what the market will bear, and what other artists are earning doing the same type of work.

Where can you turn for solutions?

  • Ask a peer what she believes is the normal going rate for someone with your level of expertise.
  • Visit professional organizations' websites for details and related information.
  • Figure out what you need to be solvent, and divide by the number of hours you can/will be willing to work.

The first option may require asking several peers and feeling out an average you believe the market will bear based upon your product.

The second option usually involves at least a web search and may require membership in professional organizations. Here's an example, Editorial Freelancers Association's website states, "Common rates reported to us by our members fall within the ranges indicated below. They should be used only as a rough guideline; rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors. The industry standard for a page is 250 words." Then they have a chart of the type of work a freelancer might get contracted to do.

That last option is what throws most of us for a loop because it requires self-evaluation, and as artists, we rarely trust our own opinions of our value. For example, as an educator, with a Master's plus 30 credits, but no PhD, I know what my former employer paid everyone with the same length experience. However, I also know not every state pays the same amount for the same work. Also, that income has to be adjusted for benefits that I cannot earn as a freelance storyteller, and I have to remember to take out Uncle Sam's portion of the pot. Additionally, every state requires different amounts and spectrum of duties for their teachers. It can be dizzying!

In the end, you have to decide what you value the most: doing your art not matter what income it gives you, following your creative path while living an adequate lifestyle or heading to the top of your class and earning every penny you can out of it while you can. Follow your internal comfort meter. You'll know when you're displease, happy or embarrassed by the income you hope to earn.

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