My top five tips to make sure you put yourself, and your worth, first.

It’s been a while – have you missed me?

Age old story right? You want to be a photographer, you want to take photographs for a living, surely it should be that simple, your art will always come first, right? Wrong.

I don’t profess to you to be a photographic genius. Quite the contrary: I’d quite like you guys coming back time and time again to read more of my blog posts, not to put you off by letting you think I’m a know-it-all. These are just some nuggets of wisdom I have picked up along the way that I now pass onto you you, young grasshopper. Or even old grasshopper? Depending how long you’ve been in the game, I digress…

“Your first hurdle is figuring out how to live, eat and exist…”

Tip One: Know when to say ‘no’

You’re fresh from studies, or you’re self taught and just plucked up enough confidence to bag yourself your first gig. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take over the photographic world, one shutter click at a time.
Your first hazard: people pretty much expect you to do stuff for free, or in return for something (which usually isn’t cash dollar). Your first hurdle is figuring out how to live, eat and exist on this, and I’m not going to sit behind a computer and preach to you how to do it. Every photographer’s journey is different, but what I am going to say is know when to say ‘no’.

Part of knowing your worth is having respect for yourself — deep, right? And it’s hard when there’s always some other mug willing to jump in your shoes and do it ‘time-for’ or for free. But clients won’t respect you until you respect yourself, and I’m not saying go from charging nothing to £500 per day, but baby steps, you know.
Start with expenses, then 50 quid here, 100 quid there, and soon I promise you will find your feet in this ever evolving guessing game of ‘pricing’. If everyone knew when to say no, then it would make the price-haggle game extinct once and for all. Which leads me nicely onto…

Tip Two: Every photograph is worth 1000 skills

Okay okay, so it’s not the age old saying you know and love, but it’s a play on it, people. Any photographer will know the education you have to give friends and/or family members when trying to clarify and even sometimes justify your profession to them.
Hands up if someone has ever said to you: “ah well, your job is dead easy right? It’s just point and click, isn’t it?” As depicted to you there by the lad who stood in the queue behind me in my third year of Uni, gassing whilst we waited to enter one of Cheltenham’s finest (grimiest) clubs. Yes, I did nearly deck him, but this isn’t just a juvenile comment that was once said to me in passing when I was 20. It comes up more than you think.

Some, not all, but some people just don’t understand the different components of your business; not only the pre and post production processes, but the different elements of your business too, like the marketing, accounting, networking, debt collecting — need I go on? All the things that make you an entrepreneur rather than just some dude with a camera. You can try explaining it to them until you’re blue in the face, but to be honest, guys, they probably still won’t ever get it. Recognise your skills and appreciate that you are capable of a lot of things, and that’s usually why you do what you do, and charge what you charge.

“Settling for crumbs doesn’t get you fed, it keeps you starving”

Tip Three: These are my rates, and I am not a flea market

Moving nicely on from my last point of charging what you charge for a reason, why is it when you tell a client your rates, they immediately enter into a haggling war with you?
Imagine the scene, similar to that of a flea market. You know the one, you literally just go to barter them down, the price they give you is never the final price. Why is it this habit has now festered itself within the creative industry?
You go in with a price, and the client can often, again not always, but often come back with a completely different and lower price. Often leading to a place of frustration, confusion and panic — what I like to call the ‘photographer-compulsion’ state.
Let me explain: when someone comes back challenging your prices, do you often feel step one) frustrated, as they’ve challenged you on your skills and expertise by bartering you down. Therefore leaving you in step two) confusion, “am I charging too much? Well this is what I feel I am worth, maybe I should review my prices…” Leading to the final stage, step three) panic. Voila! The photographer-compulsion state. I call it this simply because you then feel compelled to go back to your customer either agreeing to their lower price or meeting them somewhere in the middle.

It’s so hard in this instance to know when to stand your ground, and I completely understand if you’re just starting out, you want the opportunities and you don’t want to turn anything away (note: please see Tip One). But when you’re 5 years deep into your career and people still are coming back bartering you down, no matter what your price, you’ve got to know when enough is enough.
It’s hard to stick to your guns on this one. I can’t always guarantee that the client will stick by you, they may go somewhere cheaper, but what I can 100% promise you is that client will respect you — a respect you may have lost if you’d lowered your rate. Settling for crumbs doesn’t get you fed, it keeps you starving.

“Burning out is one of the most common side effects of being freelance, along with nausea, dizziness and exhaustion…”

Tip Four: Don’t burn out

Now this one is a toughie. Often eluded as something you should put to the top of your to-do list, the now millennial-dubbed ‘self-care’ has recently become the trendiest thing on the consumer market. But then why is it still the last thing that photographers ever think about?
Now, I am guilty of this still myself, and the phrase that usually springs to my mind is ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but that isn’t the case. It’s not always about aligning your chakras and getting into your meditative state, it’s usually much simpler than that.

Giving yourself boundaries is the best and one of the easiest ways to get started. Just because you can work every God-given hour of the day doesn’t mean you should. Give yourself ‘office hours’, try and switch off at the same time every night. I appreciate that this isn’t always as simple as I am making it out. But give yourself a cut-off time; a time that your mobile phone goes on airplane mode until the next morning. Even if you’re still up retouching to the early hours (which by the way I don’t recommend…), at least your clients can’t reach you, and you won’t be reading your emails at 1am. That is the beginning of you putting yourself and your time first.
Burning out is one of the most common side effects of being freelance, along with nausea, dizziness and exhaustion. But take it from someone who knows: if you leave it and pretend like you can just go on forever until all the work is eternally done, that is when it will hit you. Cheesy as it sounds, you will work better and more efficiently if you are rested and have time away from the screens.

Tip Five: Know your worth, then add tax

Okay, last tip I promise, and it’s a quickie. Don’t forget your income tax! It’s all well and good charging your client X amount, but please remember these numbers. If you’re earning between £11,850 and £46,350 per annum, the blasted HMRC will come banging down your door for 20% of what you’ve earned. As precious as your income is, this limits your earnings, and that’s even before you’ve had to think about your student loan and national insurance…

Let’s say, for example, that you’re charging a client £200 for an all in job, and that £200 hits your account and you’re all like “sweeeeeet”. But what you’re forgetting is, if you’re earning over £11,850 per year, £40 of that is the taxman’s, leaving you with £160. Comprende?
Not so bad in this instance, but if you’re playing with the big boys and earning 10 grand a shoot, you can see where this kind of thing could come back to bite you in the ass. Just bear it in mind: know your worth but don’t forget to add tax (or at least remember to save it).

My advice to you, whatever stage of your career you’re at, is to recognise a good client, be savvy with what you want and know your numbers. This is all part of the monopoly game we like to call ‘having a photographic career’, fun ain’t it? The sooner you learn to know your worth, the sooner you will start to feel at peace, and that photographic passion that first lead you down this path will take precedence.

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Original text and imagery, copyrighted for yours truly, written originally for Findr.
Illustrations provided via Google and Pinterest.

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2019 ®

It’s inbuilt into the British psyche to be polite. No, perhaps even our human nature. We’re born and raised not to say no.

But why?

As Yusuf, the formally known Cat Stevens once said “from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen”. And even though the song Father & Son was written and recorded in the 60s, there’s something ever so prevalent about that statement in 2019. Even to this day I catch out friends doing things they don’t really want to do, committing themselves to work events or friend dates they just would, well, rather not attend.

“You’re well within your rights to know your worth, and sometimes saying no might mean losing the job, but it won’t ever mean losing any respect”

Do we think it makes us a better person? Doing these things that we don’t want to do. Will it help us get to the top? Top of the work-pool, friend-pool or even gene-pool. I cannot tell you how many countless dates I have been on in the past with men who I didn’t really fancy, but I was just so worried about turning them down, or rejection itself on them or me, I just went along anyway. When it would have been far kinder for them, and for my own sanity to just say no.

Saying no in a work situation doesn’t always lead to disaster either. I know starting out, especially in the creative industry, it can seem super scary to say no or turn down an opportunity. For example, saying no to doing a discounted rate or even work for free.

You’re well within your rights to know your worth, and sometimes saying no might mean losing the job, but it won’t ever mean losing any respect.

Often a client will respect a creative who says no, more than one who frantically says yes to everything and doesn’t deliver. A simple “no, I am sorry I haven’t got the capacity in my diary to take that on at the moment” or “no, I’m sorry that’s my standard rate” never fails to disappoint, and you still remain professional, polite, and well busy – which is always a bonus!

No excuses; no “I’m busy washing my hair tonight”, just a flat NO. A no without explanation, or warrant. A no, just cos’ it’s a no – nothing more, nothing less. How right-on would that feel?

“…I have far more time and respect for people these days who say you know what, I love you but no.”

As I reach the grand old age of 27 (can you tell I am not excited about joining the 27 club?) I can feel myself becoming more restrictive with my yeses. Not giving them out quite as easily or as freely as I once did. A yes from me has to come from an honest place, a sincere place, and yes that has meant turning down opportunities and even sometimes relationships, but how many more times can I keep saying ‘yes’ at the risk to my own sanity?

When I told my fella I was writing this blog post his reaction, if not somewhat jovial, was “well, we can’t say no because it’s rude isn’t it?” But, is it really rude? Isn’t it far ruder to lie to someone’s face and pretend we want to do or be at something, that we don’t really give a shit about. Honestly I have far more time and respect for people these days who say “you know what, I love you but no.” No I won’t be going to that – and no, I don’t need to explain myself. It’s just cos’ I don’t want to”.

“What’s that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Does it feel a bit like sick-sickness thrown in with adrenaline? Yep, that’s anxiety.”

I mean, I guess there’s a certain element of feelings that come into it. Like, don’t just go off after reading this and start saying no to any Tom, Dick or Harry without thinking about their feelings first. If your decision affects someone else, other than yourself, that’s where you enter this rather muggy grey area of what I like to call ‘no-ness’. Where you have to take a 3 check-point test, to make sure you’re covered, before you say no.

Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here’s Georgie Glass’ No-Ometer, that you can take forth and into the big wide world, and use to become a person who can say NO.

No-Ometer

Point One – Does saying No give me anxiety? If so, why?

What’s that feeling in the pit of my stomach? Does it feel a bit like sick-sickness thrown in with adrenaline? Yep, that’s anxiety. Just try and break down why you feel anxious. Is it because you don’t want to go but you’re afraid if you don’t you might piss someone off, or you’ll have serious FOMO?

Just check in with yourself, ask yourself “why am I feeling this way?” If you can answer your own question and come to a resolution whereby you feel happier, then go-you! But if the anxiety remains, perhaps talk to a loved one, ask them what they think. Try and break it down into baby steps, because anxiety is a bitch. I can promise you, you don’t deserve to beat yourself up over a simple no. If it’s someone you’re worried about rather than something, talk to them. They will understand, and if they don’t, perhaps they shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

Which leads me nicely on to…

Point Two – Does saying No affect someone else other than myself?

Okay, so for me this is always the biggie. It’s always easy saying no when it’s only you that’s affected, but if someone else is involved then it gets a little trickier.

If it’s something big, like you’re sick, come on now you’ve got to put yourself first. I promise you the person will understand, and they probably won’t want you there vomming all over the gaff anyway.

Same with your mental health; I know from experience, that if you’re having a bad mental health day, something you once committed yourself to can feel daunting and scary when it’s looming. Again, try and talk to the person involved, tell them the truth and be honest. If it’s someone you can’t be honest with, that’s not as easy. Try and create fallback reasons for people you can’t always be 100% honest with, i.e. networking events. This is only in case of emergency, hopefully you’re surrounded by people in your life who will understand a no accompanied by an explanation. But for those who aren’t, it is okay to fall upon the occasional white lie, as long as you’re not hurting someone in the process.

And well, if it’s just that you don’t ‘feel like it’ – I suggest you suck it up. Sometimes it’s nice to put other peoples feelings before your own, you may just go and enjoy it.

Point Three – Be at peace with your No.

Be prepared if it’s a no, it’s a firm no. Don’t be scrawling through your Insta at 2am with the crying emoji thinking “fuck, I wish I’d gone to that”. Remember your no, and why you said it in the first place. Maybe you needed some me-time, maybe you needed to focus on some work, or maybe you wanted to dance around the kitchen in your underwear singing ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Don’t let the green eyed monster or the guilt gremlin come a-creepin’. Whatever your reason, be at peace with it.

Does it make you selfish?
Yes, yes it does.
But, why isn’t that okay?
Maybe we should all strive to be a bit more selfish this 2019.

Disclosure – just don’t hurt anyone, or yourself in the process.

What do you think?
Do you need to start using the word no more often?
Let me know in the comments below!

All Rights Reserved - Georgie Glass 2019 ®