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Is Exposure A Form Of Payment?

If you asked me to accept exposure as a slight or even full form of payment last year, I may have tossed the idea in my head and maybe accepted it depending on the person. After a certain amount of time or after a certain level of value you hold your portfolio to, you start or should start to view how much your work is worth.

To clarify what I am talking about, Instagram and YouTube, and social media in general, it is pretty easy to get ahold of people with big followings and it really can be broad; from someone with a few tens of thousands of followers to millions. From my experience with them, they’re mostly broke. Obviously some have reputable jobs or make money with their followings where they understand the power and value of content that you provide and because of that, they have invested money into it because they know the quality will help them reach more money and followers, but some, some don’t understand it and see their followings as currency to creatives. I will say, I have NEVER gained a client just because I filmed Snoop Dogg or Jay Cutler. Sure it has helped legitimize myself in some people’s views just because they can see that those are big and famous people but not one person has ever directly worked with me because of them. I have had to earn and work for every one of my clients and I would not be giving away my time and work away just because someone has a few thousand followers.

I say that last year I may have taken some exposure for money because I was not at the point of where I am now, living comfortably with my income and those famous people gave me more content that I could use to market myself but after a certain amount of time, usually when this turns into your full time job, I NEED MONEY. My landlord doesn’t care who I filmed this week, he doesn’t care about who this famous person is or how many followers he or she has. He needs money for me to live in my house, which in turn means I need money as well.

Yes there are people who ask me for the first video to be free or that they plan on filming on a weekly or monthly basis and the latter part will be for a different blog but I tell my potential clients that I will more than happily give them their 10th video for free if they pay up front but there is absolutely nothing that will convince me to give them a first video for free. The promise of work is not nearly worth enough than that money.
I know, I know, you shouldn’t be a creative looking to just get paid, you should be doing it because you love it and the money is a bonus. This is very very true in the sense of my quality of life, I am more likely to be happier than the person who is working a job they hate but it is still work. I look at my profession in hours worked just like anyone else, I still have bills, and I am still a person who needs to live. The sense that someone who is in the creative space being treated differently than someone who has a corporate job is ridiculous and it is something that many people view differently still that has to change.
I have had people not like my pricing and say things such as, “Well my friend has a camera so I can just have him do it.” To me it doesn’t phase me because I’m not just a button pusher. My job isn’t just to charge because I have the equipment, I am charging based on my experience, my creativity, my knowledge and THEN my camera equipment.

Now, I will dive a little deeper into dealing with those difficult clients in a later blog post but to stay on topic: Is exposure a form of payment? Yes and No. If there is a person looking for a type of video, lets say, a music video, and you have never done one but you want to get into that industry, then YES do it for free. Do 10 of them for free if it means you will be able to market yourself in that industry and be able to charge what you’re worth at a later time. This is an investment on your behalf, if you’ve done 100 music videos and someone comes up to you asking for something free, then obviously it won’t be as beneficial and to those people, you have to try and educate why your cost is your cost, but don’t waste your time beating a dead horse.

I have had people ask me for a discount on YouTube videos, or workout videos which I can say I have done over 500 of them. Every single person will get a “no” from me no matter who it is because it won’t help me out in any way. Now if someone has a bold idea on a music video where it allows me to exercise my creativity and have something new in my portfolio, I will more than likely say yes depending on what the extra costs would be on my end.

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