devalue | reduce or underestimate the worth or importance of.
When I first came up with the idea of Creative Discourse I reached out to quite a few professionals in a variety of genres asking for them to be a part of future discussions and topic ideas. I had some things I knew I wanted to discuss but insight from others broadened the topics more than I thought it would.
One that was similar for each person was an issue that I'm sure many of you are quite aware of.
We see it all of the time. Stories from creators about "pay me what I'm worth", jobs advertising low rates for the scope of work, people trying to hire "someone not too expensive", I do it because I love it, and companies offering less than what amounts to minimum wage. It's no longer a rarity but has become a full-blown issue.
Not too long ago a post was shared many times on Twitter from an NBA social media representative about the work expectations, mistreatment, and low wages for the scope of work they were performing. While I disagree with the methods of how they posted their frustration (using the NBA account to do so), it highlights an ever-growing problem in the world of media.
Here are a couple of other examples that are commonplace:
"Unfortunately, our budget for xxx is limited and doesn't allow us to accommodate these price ranges." This is a reply to a proposal I sent for an event in the functional fitness space recently. While I understand events have a budget to abide by, this has become more often than not for a lot of creators when inquiring about opportunities to shoot events.
Another event recently advertised needing photographer and videographer media volunteers with the promise of a less than $100 gift card and some swag to be involved with their event for two full days of competition with the promise of "value" from working on their portfolio and use of images.
More recently someone was wanting a photographer/videographer to attend a retreat, out of the country nonetheless, asking for a minimum of 400 images over 8 days. The pay? Getting to BE at the retreat. You have to pay for your flight. Although the retreat is all-inclusive and is valued at $3500, essentially this client is hoping their event in a fantastic location is good enough to ultimately sway someone to do this.
But here's a little insight into WHY this is a bad idea: the retreat, while it sounds fabulous, IS WORK, flights are averaging (right now) $2200 round trip economy class, and you need to account for all of the other factors that come into play (work permit) when one travels internationally for work.
The worst part about this whole thing is ultimately what ends up being your working day rate...
$162.50 a day. A DAY.
Five years ago this wasn't a common problem. People, companies, and many events used to pay high competitive rates.
Everyone has to get their start somewhere and while I agree that sometimes that requires volunteering, or working for a low rate to get your foot in the door, the issue is that continues to happen for some of the same creators and events, instead of hiring those who worked on the cheap one year, they just will use the next person in line on the cheap the next year. It's a catastrophic domino effect in the world of being creative.
I did a survey specific to the functional fitness space and here are some staggering statistics that relate to creatives who contract for athletes directly.
Of 50, 29% stated they feel that between $750 and $1000 a day is a competitive rate to work. A day, at least for most functional fitness events, averages around 12 hours.
Most respondents stated they charged between $200 and $400 per athlete for coverage for events, one of which traditionally is four days.
However, 76% said they only got hired by 1-5 athletes for the duration of the event.
68% said that the money earned from being hired by athletes did not cover travel expenses.
Assuming a 3-day event, 12 hours a day, 10 hours of editing this gives a disappointing picture of what it's like to be creative.
Day Rate $750 x 3 = $2250
$400 per athlete x 5 (using the stated 1-5 hires, I decided to be generous and hope that every person working for athletes is getting hired by 5) = $2000
This equates, based on the scope of work period, to $43 per hour.
What this DOES NOT include and should, be taxes (both state, federal, and sales), equipment depreciation/rentals, business insurance, etc.
At this point, if you expected to earn $750 a day (which you consider a competitive rate), you're in the negative $250 based on the number of athletes who hired you.
$1000 a day means you are short yourself $850.00.
Now let's add expenses...
I used a standard IRS per diem, $96 for the hotel, $69 for meals, and $232 for total travel (air/car). Sadly, we all know this rate is way too low for average travel fares.
Income $2000 (athletes who hired you)
Day Rate x 3 at $750 (what you want to pay yourself each day to work) $2250
YOU LOSE $1211 if you pay yourself $750 a day with the income you earn from athletes.
YOU LOSE $1961 if you pay yourself $1000 a day with the income you earn from athletes.
Pretty sobering, isn't it?
The athletics space is notorious for lowballing rates in recent years, but it's becoming mainstream for other creative genres as well.
Creative jobs advertised are usually drastically low compared to the demands and requirements of the positions that are advertised. The market has become so saturated that those wanting to get their foot in the door have created the problem of low pay, high demands, and ultimately a mediocre work product.
With as much content being turned out daily throughout this world, I believe there is room for everyone, but those who are devaluing the industry are making that impossible because everyone can't work for cheap. And they shouldn't.
It's time to step it up. Trust me when I say that your name on a viral post rarely equates to invoices being sent out.
Stop chasing the idea that working in a certain space is what you aspire to and start thinking about the long-term sustainable idea that you want to have as a career until you are ready to retire.
At this rate, creatives won't be able to sustain their lives without other employment avenues and that is all that is wrong with the industry as a whole.
NO JOB IS WORTH A LOSS and right now, with the creative market as it stands, there is a lot of loss.