For as long as I can remember I’ve had a general disdain for coffee. The smell, the taste, the awkward social construct based around meeting up over a “cuppa”. I could think of nothing worse. However, recently I’ve begun to see the merit in this phenomena that brings people together.
Let’s face it, most of us can’t function first thing in the morning without our soy cap or skinny decaf latte. Me, I’ve never really had that issue, but since becoming a dad, sleep is precious and so is the ability to recognize when we need that something extra to kick start the motor, or keep the gears moving.
Most people I know love coffee, and they also love talking about themselves. They combine these two loves easily, becoming social butterflies who’ll talk to anyone as long as there’s a coffee involved. That’s never really been my scene, because aside from my aversion to coffee, the idea of getting out and “pressing the flesh” has been a bridge I’ve not been willing to cross.
However, what do we gain by hiding ourselves away? The world cannot find us if they don’t know we exist. If we are to make any sort of traction in the industry, we need to find ways to network that are relevant to us. Lately, this has meant I’ve been out and about, drinking coffee and meeting people one on one.
My previous attempts to build networks have mainly been done in the safe surrounds of my studio, behind the comfort of my computer, but earlier in the year, I said no more. Enough was enough. You cannot build relationships with potential collaborators and clients by simply sending an email hoping they’ll read it.
Would you do business with a complete stranger? Many times we do, going to the shopping centre or calling a tradie out to fix something, but in the media industry that simply doesn’t work. There needs to be a rapport built up over a significant amount of time for a potential business partner to trust you with their product or service.
Lo and behold, my approach has changed and therefore the results have changed. I’m having more and more meetings, things are moving in the right direction and I’m finding myself becoming more comfortable with the idea of talking to someone over coffee. I’m even getting used to the taste too.
As a general rule of thumb, there are three types of service offered in any industry, cheap, fast and good. Despite what some might think, there is no way to deliver on all three of these. You may have seen this recent animation that explains more. In a nutshell, if you want something cheap and fast, it won’t be good. Alternatively, to seek a fast and good service won’t be cheap, and lastly you can’t get a cheap and good service done fast.
It is imperative to make sure you are valuing your services according your worth, not the worth placed on you by others. With the rise of Fiverr and other similar sites offering services for next to nothing, there is always the constant threat of being asked to do things on the cheap but what do we gain in the long run? In short, not much.
In the interest of disclosure, I will say that I have recently joined Fiverr after years of reluctance, although mainly for research purposes. I am still not sure if it’s a worthwhile pathway for me, or if it is undercutting the industry and cheapening the value of true artistry as I suspect.
To get a good idea of what you should be charging, chat to someone who knows your industry and can give you an insight into the standard rates set out by your professional body. For example, when I began Stafford Media Solutions, I sought out the advice of the Small Business Development Corporation who showed me the rates that voice artists charge which I could then base my prices on.
Unfortunately, I was naïve about the whole thing, thinking that nobody would hire me if I charged what they were suggesting, so ultimately, I set my own rates which did me no favours in the end. It was a costly mistake as I soon developed a reputation for being on the cheaper end of the scale, and consequently, I was always being asked to do things for well below what I was worth. Cheap prices equal cheap reputation. You can change your prices easily enough, but it’s very hard to change a reputation.
Another thing to remember is that only you truly know yourself, so don’t let others determine your value. By accepting work at a lower rate, you are putting clients in the driver’s seat, giving them the wheel and letting them steer you down a dangerous road.
Once you have set your prices according to your worth, stick to it. In the early days, I would panic when I saw a competitor doing something for cheaper than my rate, and would then adjust my pricing to match or better their offer. Just because someone can do something cheaper, doesn’t mean it will be as good. Back yourself to do great work and (most) people will pay what your worth. If they aren’t willing to do that, then they aren’t the right clients for your business.
One final thing to consider so that you are properly valued in your industry is to not get too caught up in doing things for free or at mate’s rates. It can be a good place to start when seeking jobs, to offer deals to friends but it’s not sustainable in the long term. Eventually, these friends may come to expect discounts or free stuff all the time and while it’s a good deal for them, it does not help you one iota.
In conclusion, the lure of offering cheaper prices and setting the bar low is a tempting one. I know, I have been there, but we all have families to provide for, mouths to feed and expenses that need to be paid for. We simply cannot bend over backwards to accommodate everyone without sacrificing our self-worth.
STAFFORD MEDIA SOLUTIONS
5/2 Douglas Avenue
Subiaco WA 6008
Voice Overs Perth
Messages on Hold Perth
Audio Production Perth
Audio and Video Editing Perth
Recording Services Perth
© Stafford Media Solutions 2019