The Problem

Self-worth breakdown

Being in video production, we run into scenarios fairly frequently where we will be asked to price out a commercial by a third party, only to find out that they have already given a price to their customer that is significantly lower than our rates (some times as much as 90% lower).

What is even more frustrating, and sometimes infuriating, is when they respond with an assumption that they know better what our pricing should be than we do.

Being a creative, I still find that very insulting. Earlier on in my career, and every so often now, it makes me question my worth.

The Value of a Creative

I’m sure that there is a level of this in all industries, but, in the creative/artistic world, we often find that people approach us as glorified hobbyists. We’ve heard, “Man, it must be nice to not have a real job…”

Pardon me, but just because I’m not working in a soul-crushing, 9-5, dead-end of a job, doesn’t mean that my job isn’t real.

It’s that paradigm that makes people think that they know better what we’re worth than we do. While it’s true that, in the marketplace, something’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, when it comes to being in the creative/artistic world, most everyone you encounter is putting pieces of themselves in their work.

Now, let me clarify, there are people in creative positions who have plateaued and are simply doing it for the money and really don’t have any skin in the game. Most of the time, a trained monkey could do whatever they do. So, let’s excuse them from the demographic that I’m addressing here.

We Take it Personally

When someone mentions a “real job” to us, we take it personally. If someone tries to place their misguided under-value on us, we take it very personally.

I know I speak for a lot of the artistic community when I say that we have skin in the game. We’ve put countless hours into honing our craft, and, those of us who choose to excel, continue to put in the time.

We have, literally, put our blood, sweat, and tears into doing what we do. We’ve failed thousands of times and learned from each one of them. We’ve had successes and celebrated them, but, have looked at them as a bar being raised that needs to be raised again.

Battling Being Undervalued

If there’s one thing that Jacob and I have learned in the last few years, it’s that you teach people how to treat you (thank you, Pathways).

In a creative business, it’s the same principle, except you teach people your value. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn some tools to help us do just this and maybe these will work for you.


The single hardest thing that a creative will learn to do is learning to say, “No!”

We’ve had times when we are put in a position where someone has promised us at a deeply cut rate and, as hard as it is at first, we will say, “no.”

It’s mostly subconscious, but, what we’re telling them is that they do not determine our value. We do.

That’s not good enough

In situations where things become a negotiation, or where someone is trying to low ball you, and you know that’s all they’re trying to do, “that’s not good enough,” is a powerful tool to give yourself.

If you find yourself feeling like you’re having to give something up and the deal isn’t win-win, then you use, “that’s not good enough” until you feel like, at the very least, terms are good for you both.

Pull-away Power

Thanks to our friend, Austin Hughes, we came across a book that talks about giving yourself pull-away power. If someone has come to you to do a job for them, then they’ve already expressed that they need you for something. Use that power to set your terms. They need you more than you need them. Be willing to walk away from the project if they aren’t willing to acknowledge your value.

Trust me when I say that this is very hard to do. But, the first time you do it, you’ll never feel more empowered. Then there’s the added bonus of when they come back, conceed, and you get the job.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not worth being compensated for all the time, effort and life that you’ve put into your art and skills. Don’t give them the power. You’re work will never be more fulfilling than when you feel appreciated and worth it while you do it.

Hamil Bros Studios is a high quality video production company based in Lubbock, TX. Their work spreads throughout West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and beyond.


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