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Bookkeeping for Crafters

Lesson 31 of 33

Focusing on Free

Lauren Venell

Bookkeeping for Crafters

Lauren Venell

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Lesson Info

31. Focusing on Free


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Lesson Info

Focusing on Free

I want to talk about a couple of other examples of working for free because there are more um and there are a couple of resource is on the resource sheet that air also really great articles or charts or organizations that was that relate to working for free including the, uh no spec website um do it if you guys know what spec work is luckily this is falling a little bit more out of favor these days. Um but spec work is basically another word for um creative competition this is where a company says okay, we want to make like a really cool commercial or billboard or a gift card is an aura sticker and so we're soliciting designs from you know, artists around the world and will choose the five best ones and each of those winners will get, you know, like five hundred dollars or whatever it is um typically the monetary prize is not at all worth the work that you've put into it, but even if it is only one person out of like a thousand are going to get that um the way that this used to work in...

the past is that a company would put out an r f p a request for proposal um and then other two to a bunch of different like say, design firms or designers in the industry would say we're looking for a new logo send us your best proposal and then the designers of the design firm would send back a proposal that says well I propose that for ten thousand dollars I will make you x um here all the different designs that I'm thinking of you know we could pick one of these and refine it and blah blah blah and then in the end the company would either pick one of these typically like valois bid and everybody else would have just put all of this work into the proposal that they now had to just junk or they wouldn't pick anybody but now that they had all these fabulous ideas they would take that give it to their in house creative team and say you know, we really like the elements of this from proposal a plus the elements of this from proposal b here in house designer synthesize these into our new corporate identity or whatever um so this organization no speck was started to try and drive spec work from the industry entirely um because unlike in other industries like failure in construction where you bid on a job and then it gets given to one person like you don't go in and build three different buildings as part of the proposal and then they either choose to pay for them or not right but with creative work you typically had to put together um a ton of different like finished or almost finished creative concepts just to enter the competition whether you're going to get paid or not and now there are some of these new websites that are similar like uh think what was called ninety nine designs where you go on and you put a bit and you're like I'm gonna pay five hundred dollars for a new logo and then anybody who wants to compete for that five hundred dollars upload the logo design and you pick one um so it's on a sort of broader scale now um but nine times out of ten that is a terrible way to try and make a living um or even economy to try to participate in because much like pricing for a hobby it just drives down the value of everyone's work if everyone's in a race to the bottom trying to you know offer the lowest possible price just to get their foot in the door um then pretty soon you know, no skilled creative person is going to be able to make a living doing anything um everyone's gonna have a second job and everybody is going to stop making creative work because if you can't survive on it then sort of what's the point um so uh when should you or for free we've talked about a lot of reasons why it's not a good idea to work for free? We brought up one good reason um which is that it's reaching exactly the right market um and it's not a you know a great cost to you um you're likely to get a really good return on that investment um it's also nice to support the greater karma so, um for example when I was doing plush design uhm excuse me um I did a lot of plush design after the sweetmeats I did a lot of plush designed for clients um and that was part of my consulting income and um you know, people ask me constantly can you make a design for this can make a design for that? I couldn't do all of it I couldn't take on all the work um and I was trying to feed it out to other designers that I might know but there weren't a ton of other plush folks out there at the time, so I thought, well, here's what? I'm gonna d'oh my next client and it was a company called neon monster I was designing a new they had like, monster mascot and they wanted a plush toy made out of it. So I asked him if it would be okay with you if I documented and published this process as I go through it so that other people can see what I'm doing and how they said yeah, sure that's fine, we don't care we don't mind um so I documented the entire process of designing and putting together a pattern for this uh, monster toy and because I couldn't find any other tutorials online for like, how do you take a two dimensional drawing and turn it into a three dimensional plush character? How on earth do you figure that out? You know, you don't have, like, three d modeling software if you don't have like I don't, uh if you don't have very good sort of three d visual ization skills um, you know, what are your options there? And so I put together this epically long block post about it, um and shared it with the greater world. I also wrote, uh, an article for craft magazine that talks about all of these things and all of the pricing stuff that I just went over and both of those were hugely popular. So who was it? Oh, my god. Thank you so much for this. Um, I doubt very much that any of your many, if any many if any of those readers then went and bought sweetmeats afterwards like this did not do much for my bottom line directly, but it has a lot of really great indirect effects, right? Um, because it is connecting you to those other members of the creative community who may not buy your products because their makers themselves but it will, uh, put some goodwill out there that they will repay you have put out this pricing advice you have put out this um tutorial on how to make uh you know a three dimensional plus that they've been searching for forever um so when it comes time for you to announce your book launch your new store your new product those are the people who will share it with their friends those of the people who will favour it and re tweet your message those are the people who will um tell other interested parties about your products oh, you know such and such uncle so and so is a huge meat lover. You should get him one of these for christmas because they already feel great about you and they want to help you back. Right? And that's what's sort of supporting the karma is it's putting good out into the world even if it's not your customer base just to get that mutual health going because that's really huge in the creative world especially in the crafting world um you know, a rising tide floats all boats right? Um so if everybody is working together to help promote each other and everybody is working together to make sure that like pricing standards are good for everyone, then then that's great for everybody in the broader community um and I think crafters especially um but creative professionals even in general ah tend to be really good about forming communities and helping each other out. So, um, I would say that that's. The other instance in which working for free, even if it doesn't get you direct benefits in terms of sales. Um, it's, still really good from for your business, in a general sense and for the community, in a general sense.

Class Description

It is common to be intimidated by math and money, but managing your business’s finances doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Bookkeeping for Crafters with Lauren Venell will give you the confidence and skills you need to start and maintain your own small business ledger.

Lauren is an artist and educator committed to making financial solvency accessible to independent entrepreneurs. In Bookkeeping for Crafters you’ll learn the basics of managing your money and how doing it yourself can reveal important opportunities for your business.

You’ll learn about managing different types of income and expense accounts and how to painlessly prepare for tax time. Lauren will make predicting fluctuations in your cash flow straightforward and easy while helping you develop a system that is right for you – even if you prefer pen and paper over spreadsheets.

If you are ready to change your relationship to money and manage a ledger that is customized to the way you do business – this is the class for you.

Be sure to check out Lauren's other course Bookkeeping for Etsy Sellers.


Bekah Kitterman

Months after watching the live broadcast of this course, I am still so glad I bought it. I find myself coming back to it over and over again just to refresh my brain on how to manage all of my numbers. I'm new at having a business and doing my own bookkeeping, and this course has been extremely helpful as a tool to help me set things up well and keep me on track. Highly recommend especially for those new to business and bookkeeping or intimidated by taking care of your numbers!


There is so much fantastic information in this course that I had to purchase it even though I watched the free broadcast. It's real hands-on stuff, not a general description of what bookkeeping might be, but an actual guide to manage your business' finances. Thank you for all the insights and workbooks! I highly recommend this class.

Carla Sam

Wow, this course was jam packed full of insightful information (not just about book keeping!). Lauren was great at simplifying the process! Even though I watched most of the 2 days free broadcast, it was a wise investment to purchase the course and now I can re-watch at my leisure and fully take it all in. Thanks Lauren! :D