It has been about a year since I decided that I no longer was going to do any of my creative work for free. And yet I continued to take on free work because in one way or another it did not appear that I was just handing out work for free until I actually got to doing the work and stressed out over it.
I know that people respect my work enough to pay. But sometimes I forget to respect my work enough to ask people to pay.
Unfortunately, people often do not show the same appreciation and respect when they do not have to pay. The work adds to my plate which then forces me to not give the same attention to my paid work. And sometimes people who are getting things for free stop treating you like a professional.
I have done a variety of free work over the years when it comes to blogging, photography, and other creative endeavors. And I do have to admit not all of it was bad. And in the beginning many of those opportunities were stepping stones to where I am today.
The main point is that how I use and respect my time started to become a grey area. I would forget how much time and effort went into things. I would forget that I have bills to pay and a limited amount of time I am already trying to balance. My priorities were not straight and instead the people pleaser part of me just wanted to do something nice.
Now there are plenty of others things I do for free or out of the kindness of my heart. I donate things and volunteer my time. But when it comes to specific areas of my creative life, doing work for free is just draining. My creative work is not just a hobby. It is my job. And in order to continue loving my job I have to set boundaries that protect my creative time.
If you are a creative and have struggled with whether or not you should be doing your work for free or for a cost, I encourage you to stick to your heart when it comes to what you need to charge for your work. You and your work are both worth something great. If you want people to believe it, you have to first believe it yourself.