Creatives Roundtable Time is Priceless

Your time is priceless. Stop giving it away.

The most important commodity we are born with is the time we have to live it.

Time has been co-opted by the productivity industry and tries to value your time based on what you can produce. This ideology began in the business/industry sector and has managed to expand into every minute of our lives.

Time is not infinite, it is finite. We have a specific and undetermined number of seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, and if lucky decades to experience life. Your time is priceless and can be shortened for any thousands of reasons in an instant. With this in mind I like knowing that as I fall asleep I have experienced my life in my way.

The digital era easily distracts us with tweets and dings. So we all need to remind ourselves that we get to choose where we put our attention, invest our priceless time, and produce creative work that connects you to the world around us.

For creatives, one of the biggest time hogs can be managing the negotiation for fees with clients. 

There have been many posts and tips about this topic. Jessica Hische has a brilliant guide, The Dark Art of Pricing, for designers and illustrators to help them get paid. So I’ll just offer share a couple things that have worked for me to feel confident pitching my value clients.

Showcase your value by:

  • Controlling your schedule. How many times have you found your planned day being completely discarded by a client’s email or text? I am all for going with the flow when the need is there, but it isn’t a state that can be worked at sustainably. Plan ahead and set up online scheduling to structure your schedule to fit your needs. 
  • Utilize voicemail. I’ll be the first to say that in a world that leans to email and texting, if a client is calling you, it’s likely important. But, if it’s important, they will leave a voicemail. So if you are in the flow on a project don’t feel obligated to stop what you are doing unless it’s a call you are expecting. Technology is your friend, like the iPhone transcribe feature to scan the urgency of a message. Texting also doesn’t need to be immediately replied to. You have the control of your time. Don’t let someone else steal it.
  • Establish your role as the creative project manager. Lead the design projects by being the one who outlines timelines based on the needs of the client. Push back when expectations aren’t viable or at least charge more when a client is insistent. The classic phrase, “don’t be the order taker” comes to mind here. Lead the discussions, be part of the creative discussion at all levels when possible.
  • Price projects in ‘packages’. Don’t let an hourly rate be the start of the pricing discussion. Offer estimates in packages that are priced on deliverables. In the backend determine fees based on effort and time. But keep in mind as you experience grows, your time reduces. So just because you’re better at your job, you should get paid less for it.

When you have your time scheduled your way, and how those expect you will use your efforts, you will be seen as the consultant you should be. And when you have the respect of your clients and prospects it will translate into how you value your non-work time as well.

The phrase, “love what you do and never work a day in your life” is a bowl full of bad advice. Love what you do so you are enjoying more of your day. 

Written by Crystal Reynolds

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