I came across a very interesting article about people who were having artists work for “exposure” rather than actual money. That would work in a society that hasn’t invented currency yet (which happened 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia), but in a modern society where the landlord, your ISP, the tax man, your cell phone provider, your electric provider, your water provider, and a host of other people who want money for services rendered want you to pay regularly, it only makes sense to pay your creatives. The number one reason I pay my creatives? I’m not cheap, and I recognize that people take a lot of time and effort to create art.
A friend of mine, Cameron (you can check out his work here) designed my logo for $25. I will be the first to admit that art is not my strong suit (and even if I tried, it probably still wouldn’t be). I paid him within an hour of designing said logo:
This is specifically why I ask for payment in advance: you’re only putting your money on the line, while I am putting my credibility on the line. If I don’t deliver a project on time, you’re free not to use me ever again. If you don’t pay creatives on time, you will get talked about in creatives’ circles (and I know quite a few of those people) and they can (and will) destroy your brand. Word of mouth is more powerful than any other form of marketing or advertising used. You can send all the ads in the world, but if your brand is known for sucking, you’ll have to spend way more time, money, resources and effort rebuilding the brand than if you just decided to be a decent person and pay people you hire to do something in the first place.
Creatives are using that money to do what they love, to make a living. Some of us have families to support as well. How does exposure pay for anything in the real world? Exposure doesn’t pay the rent (seriously, ask any landlord if they accept exposure as a form of currency). Exposure doesn’t put food on the table, doesn’t put clothes on our back. Some people can’t work normal 9-5 jobs because of disabilities or whatever (also because they don’t want to slave away for unappreciative employers), and they don’t deserve to be treated less than anyone else.
Another common issue that ties into this is the use of Net 30 (or longer, I’ve seen as much as Net 90) for invoices. No reasonable person can predict their expenses that far in advance. Weekly and biweekly checks are far easier on a freelancer because they can budget more efficiently. I had a huge issue with budgeting when I was paid once a month; now that I’m paid weekly, I don’t even think twice about budgeting because at least I know I will have income every week.
Long story short: pay your creatives. Paying them means you respect their time and effort. Paying them means they’ll get you more business. Paying them means people can make a living.