The creative dilemma

Today was a frustrating day. I often get clients who need great work. They are promoting something good and I come up with an idea that goes way above and beyond their vision for what can be done. But rarely do they really have the budget to make it work.

The choice usually boils down to presenting the idea with the budget needed, and losing the job, or presenting the idea and doing it at a cut rate. The first means you don’t get the work. The second means you work your tail off for about half what you should get paid.

So what do you do as a creative who refuses to settle for second best? In the past I’ve gone the second route. I’ve bid the jobs way under what I should just to do some exciting work. Sadly only about half the times does that work. The other half, someone comes in with a crappy idea, but a bid that is a fraction of even my “barely making anything” price. So it would seem underbidding only pays off about half the time.

I’m trying more and more to just bid what the job is worth. That can lead to some great work and a great paycheck. Or it can lead to stretches of no work and no paycheck. I’m not sure bidding jobs is ever a part of this job I’ll love or do well. I create ideas and tell stories, and I do it with a passion that is second to none. But the business side makes my head hurt.

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