Donating or Trading Your Art or Web Services- Can You Afford It?

As a beginning Artist, Graphic and/or Website Designer or what have you, it is often good practice to offer your services to some local charity or Non-profit Organization, to help you build a nice portfolio… Be it a Chamber of Commerce or your local Church, these are always good things to help and are often hard put to be able to truly afford a professional… And not only do you get to build your portfolio, but also give back some to your community…

With a Chamber of Commerce, offer a small discount for further work for the members could gain you more work in the future too… But remember, your doing this not only for the enjoyment of being creative and building your professional portfolio, but it is also a business and you need to pay the bills, not just to make you feel good…

I keep on having to remind myself this, as so often in my past I have given of my abilities and services with huge discounts or free work to build up a portfolio and forgot to say stop when offering so much… But when building a portfolio of work, it is good to donate your time and efforts in building one, just don’t get caught up always giving and giving and giving- remember, you still have to pay the bills…

Trading work for services… Similar to the idea of the Ithaca Dollar- using a barter system can be nice, but can you afford to do this? Have to look at your working capital and needs to fully figure this out for yourself… It might make you feel good to help someone else, but again, you have to think to paying your bills and that time is also money… It might take time from your doing work for your own business to get full paying clients to work for…

Have to ask yourself-
Is the time I spend helping or giving, going to help me in the long run?
How much time will you be donating- is it cost effective?
If it is a trade for services- is this a service you really need?

I try to donate an hour a week to a local food pantry, helping some to those who are older and can’t lift much, so help them carry food to their cars… Makes me feel good in helping… But I know also, I am again redoing my portfolio, and my art & web studio, but I know I can’t afford to donate my time and effort in building a website for them- I have to think to my time as money, and invest my time into my work, to bring my business back into being, I truly can’t afford to donate or trade my services- I am no longer green behind the ears and I have a working portfolio and I truly know my abilities in my art, web design, photography and marketing abilities- But right now, I truly can’t afford more then my donating 1-2 hours a week of my time- I have to think to my business and my personal goals…

This I have had to truly think about lately with some friends asking me to trade services for services… Had to truly ask myself- do I really need their services, or do I truly need to work on my own business… In answer, I have figured I will offer some free advice in marketing, advertising, and what could be cost effective to people on Twitter, but I truly can’t afford to trade services to people out of my town or area- Business is Business, and time is money… I have to think to my own future and my own goals, and what I know my time is truly worth…

This I have to thank also Chris Brogan, who has truly earned my respect, because he truly worked hard to get to where he is in business and marketing- in one of his recent Blog entry “Price Points”: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/price-points/. This point started to ring loudly in my mind, charging what you are truly worth… My resume now should SCREAM to me, not to donate or trade services, as I do know my abilities are worth far more an hour or per project then what most of the local town services charge- I have to remember, I’ve 25 years of experience which include a national Icon, helping businesses gain 200-800% sales increases and my imaging and design ability is not that of someone just finishing college- it is fine tuned… So I need to charge what I am truly worth!!!

Giving or offering free work or trading for services can be very gratifying and also helps in new areas of service or kinds of work, but when all is said and done, time is money and it takes money to pay the bills… So be careful of donating your time or amount of your time to non-for-profits, or small businesses that need so much help… Once you get to the point you can afford to donate more time or money, that is a good thing, but it can hurt you too if you start donating too much of your time and effort, and don’t receive what you invest could be your downfall of your new business…

In the end, you still need to pay your bills…

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