In Time, All Must Pay....

The one thing every content creator must deal with is; when the day comes to 'Pay the Man/Woman' for services rendered. The 'Digital Revolution' has made it possible for Self-Publishers to get their content made whether for print, video or online distribution with an unheard of ease. At some point however, even with all the software and tech available eventually you'll have to 'pay' someone for their expertise to complete your project.

Recently, I put together mock-up artwork for a writer. I knew the person 'didn't have a lot of money', so I put together something that was more than reasonable for a low budget project. They loved the work, but implored me to lower my price for the completed project by an additional 75%! I had already cut them a 50% discount and it wouldn't be worth my time to go any lower. Much as I would have liked to have helped the person out, there's a point where 'the rubber hits the road'....

Now, that said I have done 'freebies' but let me define 'free'. Quid Pro Quo is more like what I do. If a content creator can provide an equally valuable service in lieu of payment, sometimes that's a viable option. However when you are not in a position to offer services of equal value, then it's time to pay or walk away.

One thing I've found disturbing in the last few years is social media has lulled many content creators into doing everything for 'free' and raising the expectation that others should do so as well. with no hope of compensation. I was listening to a young filmmaker during a conversation and while he had great ideas, at no time did I hear anything about the realities of what it actually costs to make films. "Oh you can get people to participate for free! Friends, family and people interested in the project will be happy to get in." Yeah, if you're George Lucas maybe, but even Spike Lee had to go begging for cash on Kickstarter!

Sooner rather than later if you don't want your work to suffer, some cash will have to cross the palm of someone skilled in an area you are not. One thing I notice many creators and publishers don't take into account is; a 'project budget'. You're probably saying, 'Why do I need a budget? Writing is free!' Yeah it is, up to a point. But even at the base creative stage, you're paying at some level. The paper, pens and pencils, the electricity powering your laptop/tablet/phone, the software that you write with not to mention the cost of internet you do research with are all 'financial factors' involved in your writing.

More direct costs raise their heads when it comes time for preparing the work for publishing/distribution. Having your work proofread/edited is a must. I've written three books and a bunch of short stories and used a proofreader each time and still manage to find typos (though nowhere near as many had I chose not to use one.) When you're putting together a book or whatever, the last thing you want is an extra expense (especially if you're already broke!) Yet, that extra cost often makes the difference between a professional looking product and not.

So what to do when you can't afford a pro to handle your 'light work'? Good question. Obviously, you'll have to do much of the lifting as you can but when you reach the point where your skills are limited seeking outside help is your final option (that is if you want your project to have the professional look it deserves and requires to be taken seriously.)

Who will help you when you're broke? Well, that's where making connections and relationships with others connected to content creation will be where you turn. You can also try your local college or university professors involved in writing, filmmaking, etc. Be advised: few if any professionals will want to work for free. So don't approach them looking for a handout. Be able to offer them something in return (even if it turns out to be a 'payment plan'.) Sometimes 'unrelated services' may be required to reach an agreement (you mind mowing my lawn?)

One thing is certain, don't be so 'excited' about doing your project you end up 'cutting a deal with the Devil'. Many self-publishers allow themselves to get into positions where they make promises they can't keep and end up in court. Think you had money problems before? Wait until a judge finds you guilty in small claims court and rules against you....

The most prudent thing would be to wait until you have the money to get things done... yeah, nobody ever does that! Good thing too, because nothing would ever get done. Just keep in mind, you'll have to 'pay something' eventually. So do your best to prepare your work (and yourself) for when that day comes and do so wisely.

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