Hope everyone had a lovely weekend! Today, I wanted to share with you something that’s been on my mind lately: SELF WORTH. Specifically as an individual of the creative space. What is self worth? Why is it so important? How can knowing yours affect you & your business? As a full-time freelancer making a living through digital marketing, I’ve learned that knowing your self worth is the first step to long-term success. The second step is standing by it. While this article will be mostly relatable to other creatives in the industry, recognizing self-worth is important for all.
Many of you have been curious as to what a typical day running Style Lullaby looks like. Firstly, I’m going to start off by saying that blogging is a lot more than just blogging. In fact, I don’t even like to say I’m a “blogger” because I feel it doesn’t quite capture the essence of my work today. As anyone who runs their own business knows, you have to wear many hats. You are the accountant, the marketer, the creative director, and so on.
When I first started blogging, it was a hobby for a year. Everything was fun and games — no obligations and no deadlines. Then, my second year rolled around and I decided that the 9-5 life wasn’t for me… so, I turned it into a full-time job. Since then, there have been many tight deadlines, expectations, fights with my boyfriend/photographer, and more. It has not been easy, and to my surprise, my stress levels are higher than ever before. I even struggle with getting enough sleep every night. With that said, I can’t help but feel agitated when brands ask content creators to advertise their product via curated content to our audiences, while failing to recognize that what we do requires a lot of hard work, passion, and dedication. Those pursuing this are putting in hours of work to meet deadlines and create quality content.
Marketing efforts are essential to the growth of a brand, and quality content goes a long way in establishing a brand’s professionalism and increasing their sales. Think about it this way: Everyone gets promotional e-mails. Whether it’s a BOGO sale going on at Forever 21, or a Black Friday offer at Best Buy, these e-mails flood our inboxes daily in hopes that we’ll see them at the right time to buy something. Someone was hired to create those emails. Essentially, this is exactly what digital marketers are doing for brands, and that value should always be compensated for — no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Unlike a 9-5, I’m not handed work to complete for the day. To stay afloat financially, I am responsible for seeking out my own clients/work, and completing my tasks in a timely manner with nobody “supervising me.” My income is dependent on how much work I can bring myself, rather than how much work I get done for a company or how many hours I work.A typical work day for me will look something like this:
- 6 am – 9 am: Catch up on all social media posts
- Engage with followers, respond to comments/questions, etc.
- Post my photo for the day across my social channels.
- Reply to blog comments.
- 9 am – 12 pm: Administrative work
- Answer e-mails that came through the past 24 hours.
- Send out follow-up e-mails.
- Conduct outreach and/or coordinate plans for work with clients.
- Organize editorial calendar.
- 12 pm – 2 pm: Lunch/Errands/Networking
- This block of time is spent either catching up on errands like pulling clothes for a shoot to complete a look, grabbing a quick bite, or attending an event/meeting.
- 2 pm – 4 pm: Blog work
- PREP by making sure all photos needed are edited and ready for placement.
- DESIGN upcoming posts and lay out how I want them structured.
- CREATE content for upcoming posts.
- 4 pm – 6 pm: Shoot
- Get ready for a shoot (make-up, hair, styling).
- Find a location to shoot and get there.
- Shoot several outfits or things that need to be shot before it gets dark out.
- 6 pm – 7 pm: Dinner/Errands/Networking
- Similar to lunch time, this block of time is spent either catching up on errands, metworking at an event/meeting, or… well, eating dinner.
- 7 pm – 10 pm: Catch up on personal obligations
- This block of time is reserved for spending time with my boyfriend outside of work related things, taking care of my lizard, showering, catching up on laundry, and other chores that may need to be done.
- 10 pm – 2 am: Review
- Review photos shot, make selections, and work with my retoucher to finalize the photos.
- Review and make sure schedule posts go live when they should and are kink-free.
- 2 am – 3 am: Plan
- Plan which post(s) is going live in the morning and appropriate caption(s) for each channel… when I wake up 4 hours later.
My schedule varies day-to-day which is a huge perk of my job, but as you can see, there’s a ton of work and time involved behind the scenes. This doesn’t even account for all the time I’ve spent to build a readership/following, and relationships with people online!
So, it never ceases to frustrate me when brands reach out expecting free work or ask to “gift” an item of my choice in exchange for a shoutout. Advertising is not and should not be free. In my two years of blogging, I’ve probably seen every excuse. I’ve also calculated my thoughts on each excuse thoroughly. Here are just some of the common ones I get regularly… in no particular order of “favorites.”
We’re a small and growing business.
My thoughts: That’s great! I’m all for entrepreneurship and starting businesses. Heck, as a social influencer, I consider myself a “growing business,” too, and still have to put forth many expenses to keep creating quality content. Some expenses include photography & equipment, photo props, hair & make-up services, gas to get around to shoots, “Insta-worthy” food, and renting studio space when needed. These are just some of many everyday expenses I have to account for, not including my personal expenses that may bite into business expenses as well. That said, if you’re a growing business, you most definitely should have a budget for advertising. I’m not saying it has to be a big one, but it should be something so that you can pay your influencers for their time and efforts in putting a word out about your product or service that help increase sales of your product or service.
We’d like to do a “test post” before committing to a larger compensation.
My thoughts: Since when was I able to take home an article of clothing from the mall before paying for it? Unfortunately, many brands are using this excuse to exploit bloggers into working for free. These brands often will work with anyone and everyone, and see how many they can take advantage of. Seldom do they ever come back and offer a second partnership with a “larger compensation.”
We have many other bloggers doing it for free.
My thoughts: I have no words. I’m outraged. Bloggers doing $hit for free, please become aware of your value. You should be paid for any content you create. Otherwise, you are devaluing a service that should always be compensated for. If a brand doesn’t pay you, then that sends a clear signal they do not value your services at all. Brands saying this to me, think about how unprofessional you are. I have spent so much time, effort, and energy into creating my own business — I’m not a charity, and thus, I don’t work for free. I pride myself in creating quality content that will reach hundreds to thousands, and only work with professional brands who see this and value it.
We don’t have a budget for influencers.
My thoughts: This is most annoying when it comes from bigger, more established brands. I have a hard time believing they don’t have a budget for influencers. In fact, I don’t believe it at all. I see traditional billboard ads for these brands all the time on my drive to the grocery store. I hear radio ads in the car. Commercials are all over the Internet and TV. NONE of these are free — so why should I advertise for free? Many studies show that traditional advertising is mostly dead, and quality content through digital marketing efforts is much more effective. Using social media influencers is a form of digital marketing, and digital marketing from professionals is always paid for.
Our product retails at *insert large amount of $$$*!
My thoughts: If only I could give your product to my property manager at the end of the month saying, “here’s my rent!” But really though, if only all the gifted items could amount to what my annual salary should be… I’d be rich!
Honestly, I could go on and on with the excuses but I won’t bore you. This leads me to my point: knowing your self-worth and sticking with it. If you’re doing any type of advertising for a company, make sure you’re getting paid fairly! Of course, “fairly” is subjective and everyone will have different rates. How you create your rate will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your business expenses, the time you put into your work, etc. I have analyzed my business thus far and have set a valid price point for my clients, and am so very thankful to those who see value in working with me and respect my rates. They know they’ll get a good return of investment.
However, just like many influencers out there, I’m still getting many e-mails from brands asking for free work, commission-based work, or trade-for-product work. At first, it was hard to turn them down. I’ll admit: getting free things in the mail everyday was exciting, especially when those “things” retail for hundreds to thousands. After realizing my self worth, I trained myself to stick with it and only accept paid work.
I must clarify that not everything you see here on my blog and on my Instagram is an advertisement (those that are, are clearly labeled so). While I do digital advertising for brands, I also enjoy sharing styles that I personally pick out when I go shopping, foods I enjoy eating, beauty products I swear by, etc. In such cases, I will willingly share with my audience where I got something under no obligatory circumstances. However, it’s important to note that these are things I willingly go out and pay for, and are not gifted items from brands that expect a shoutout in return. As for brand partnerships, I only work with those who I believe match my aesthetic/personal style. I think that’s an important part to realizing self-worth too, because you never want to be advertising things that aren’t true to you (and thus, devaluing your worth).
On a more delightful note, these photos are different from what you’d normally see here. We decided to take a spontaneous trip out to Joshua Tree this week and David created these cool composite images of Babadook and me! No, he didn’t take steroids… but he may have done some heavy boulder lifting out in the desert to get this big. 😉 You should always strive to do personal projects for fun, that also showcase your abilities and creative visions to attract quality clients.
KNOW YOUR WORTH!
What are your thoughts on self worth? I’d love to hear all about it in a comment below! xx
Photos by David Potter