What’s Your Perceived Value?

      7 Comments on What’s Your Perceived Value?

I’m a ‘Big Sister’ to a nine year old girl. We’ll call her Dee. If you ever want to do something cool for a kid, become a Big Sister or Big Brother (shameless plug for those guys). Dee has a little stuffed Webkinz dog. We’ll call her Biscuit. (No, that’s not her in the photo…I must protect her identity 😉 )

If you’re unfamiliar with Webkinz, they’re stuffed animals that come with a code. You go to the website, register, plug in the code and voila. You have an online, animated version of your pet. You do stuff to earn ‘Webkinz cash’ so you can buy your pet food, clothes and furnishings for their online house. Trust me, little Biscuit has a much better apartment than I do.

Since Dee got this little dog, it rarely leaves the crook of her arm. And the fact that the little thing always looks like she needs a bath, is proof of this.

Anyway, one day I was on an outing with Dee. We were out most of the day at a parade, to the mall and then grabbed something to eat at a restaurant. When we started walking to the bus stop, Dee stopped in her tracks.

Where was Biscuit?

Dee runs back in the restaurant and quickly comes back.

No Biscuit.

Panic ensues.

When did you have her last? Was she with you till the end of the parade? Do you remember having her in the mall? When we went in the restaurant?

Yes, she’s sure of it.

It was hard to look at the worry on her face. She was trying to be cool, but I knew if we didn’t find Biscuit, things would not be good. We go back in for a better look.

Happy ending. Biscuit was hiding under the table and hard to see at first (I still say she was scrounging for dropped french fries). I found Biscuit and when I handed her back to Dee, all was well in the world again.

It really made me think how we place value on things…and people.

It’s all about perceived value.

The value Dee has placed on Biscuit is high. She has invested her love, her secrets and much of herself into that little dog. And what is she? A little scrap of fabric and stuffing (that retails for about $14.99!). But she doesn’t see her like that…to her she’s real and she’s her friend. Biscuit is priceless and cannot really be replaced. At least in her eyes.

If we hadn’t found her, what value would have been placed on Biscuit by the person who did? Probably not much. They may have dropped her in the lost and found, given her to another kid or even thrown her away.

The horror.

So what’s my point?

I plan on writing about working for peanuts, working ‘on spec’ (free) and entering contests. But before I dive in, I want you to think about this:

What value do you place on yourself and your skills?

Now, I’m not trying to create a bunch of ‘divas’ here. The world has plenty of people over-valuing themselves (and most of them seem to be on reality shows).

I’m talking about not under-valuing yourself. If you have talent, that has value to someone. Aren’t we all paying for stuff we can’t do ourselves? If you can draw and someone wants you to draw for them because they can’t do it themselves…that’s worth something. And too many people want that for free.

I’ll expand on this in the next post. Right now I gotta get back to work (the work I’m being paid for 😉 ). So in the meantime, think about it. If you don’t place enough value on your talents or abilities, why should anyone else?

Are you a ‘Biscuit’ or are you laying in the clearance bin with a bunch of others just like you?

Update: Total coincidence, there’s a post today over at Copyblogger about this very thing but with the point of view from a writer. Check it out.

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7 thoughts on “What’s Your Perceived Value?

  1. Will

    Determining what that value should be is often difficult for amateurs. The mind tells you to bid low just to get the job, but the work often ends up being more than you expected.

    My general rule is to set a minimum amount that I will work for, regardless of the project size. So much time is spent in meetings and talking to clients about the project (things typically deemed non-billable) that setting a minimum will cull out the professionals from the “can you do this for me” people.

    A great post, and I look forward to the follow-up.

  2. KJL Post author

    Great input Will. 🙂

    It is very hard for people just starting out to get what is fair. You don’t feel worthy and will kill yourself just to ‘get the job’, like you said. I’m sure most professionals have stories of being ‘screwed over’ and you really learn from them.

    With the internet, the number of ‘baddies’ that you will come across has increased so much. So you have to find ways to sniff them out.

    Having a base fee is a great idea because there’s plenty of non-billable things you need to do that beginners may not realize.

    It also comes down to the value you get out of the project too. If you feel it really is worth it to do that job for so little…because it would be great experience or an amazing portfolio piece, then that has to be your decision. I just want people to think about it first.

  3. Todd Jacobsen

    Great post, and a great link to another POV as well.

    This kind of goes with what I was (trying!) to say on another one of your posts about goodwill, and doing things for contacts that YOU deem worthy enough to give your time and talent to for a reduced rate. Sometimes that rate is non-material…and sometimes so is the pay…

    …but some others, well, they gots to have the crispy bills. ‘Specially if ya don’t know ’em real good. 🙂

  4. KJL Post author

    Thanks Todd. And very true about those crispy bills. 🙂

    You have to look at it like it’s not all about them either. What they’re asking for, what they need from you.

    Are you getting anything out of it? Maybe you’re building a relationship with someone that really could help you out in the future. Or it’s someone you respect. Or you genuinely think the project is worth working on.

    But blind ads on craigslist are probably not those people. 😉

    The usual sign is folks promising much bigger things (what, as in more free work? wow) to come and that this project is going to be the next amazing thing…bla bla bla.

    Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

  5. Debi

    Good discussion here.

    My only addition is to be very aware of what you’re getting into and to be ok with it. Don’t fool yourself or be fooled. There is nothing worse than thinking something will pay only to find out you got ripped off. Better to go in knowing that there won’t be money it for you, but that you’re doing it for experance, networking, the passion of the project, etc. You’ll be much happier in the end if you know what you willing got yourself into in the first place.

    As you said Karen, a huge hint that the project might not be all they say is if they go on about how “it will be a big hit” and how “we’ll get famous and get tons of money”. Slowly step back from those people and run away! Run away!

  6. Debi

    I just remembered one other clue that tells you to “Run away!”.
    If you get an email that is typed out with no capitilzation, horrid spellings, texting language, calling you “dude” (I’ve gotten one with that), etc. All telling you they want you to work on their movie for free for payment later after they get funding. RUN AWAY!! If they write to funder the way they wrote to you, they won’t see a dime and neither will you.
    Be careful with any “deffered pay” gigs. Those are the trick y ones.

  7. KJL Post author

    Debi-Duuuuuuuude! (couldn’t resist)

    First off, I can’t tell you how it brightens my day to be out all afternoon (my only day outside in a week…every week) and come home to comments from you (and Dan on the other post). Debi seriously, your ‘keep-coming-back-ness’ is truly appreciated…can’t say it enough.

    All great points (and warnings) you’re providing here. So true that you’d rather be told the truth and KNOW you’re not going to see a dime than be led on. It’s much worse.

    And the grammar thing…couldn’t agree more. If that’s their idea of professionalism, they’re not worth the time. Run! I don’t care how desperate you are to work. They will make you bitter before your time.

    Because you will get bitter….it’s just a matter of when… 😉


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