I was over at the Copywriter Underground blog today, where I saw this amazing rant by author Harlan Ellison:
What strikes me as relevant about this rant--which is about the need for artists and creatives to be properly valued, and therefore properly paid--is the transition you make from amateur to professional when you start seeing your work as "real" and worth making a living from.
Sometimes, when you begin to follow your dreams, you feel almost guilty about charging for your work. After all, you may not have a ton of experience, or you may just get so much enjoyment out of what you're doing that you feel like you'd do it for almost nothing, just because getting paid to have fun doesn't seem to be allowed.
Indeed, when people say, "When are you going to get a real job?" what they really seem to be asking is this: "When are you going to get a job that makes you as miserable as I am?"
That's why it's so important to charge professional wages for the work you do, even if you are following your bliss and having a great time. Not only does it help you, it helps all the others working in your field or hoping to work in your field, especially if there is a low barrier to entry. For example, an accountant or an engineer must pass some kind of accrediting test in order to practice in that profession, but nearly anyone can call himself a writer or a designer. It's hard for a potential employer to pick the hacks out from the pros. One of the ways to distinguish yourself as you embark on your path is to make sure you value your work, because others see that, pick up on it, and begin to value you as the professional you are.
So whatever your path is, research what the professionals earn, and make that a near-term goal. If you want respect for following your bliss, you must first learn to respect yourself. This is harder than it sounds, but if you can do this, you will succeed.
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