Stop getting paid in exposure.
Most of the people I know have this weird dietary condition where they can’t digest exposure and have to buy food instead. I’m sad that artists’ jobs have been so devalued that people are essentially paying to work.
I’m gonna go to the store, get some free groceries, and ask the manager for fifty bucks. The manager will be happy that they had customers at all. That’s how the world works now, right?
THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES.
Don’t undervalue yourself, artists! You deserve to be paid for your work, just like any other professional. If someone asks you for free stuff, politely tell them your commission charge (if you accept commissions.)
But nobody’s buying, so lately I’ve been giving some art away on GaiaOnline for virtual currency… which is almost like giving it away for free. I work my butt off and half of the time, these ingrates don’t even thank me, and some have cheated me out of the VIRTUAL MONEY they owed me.
Yamino, I want to properly value myself, but nobody buys my art when I price it super-low. How can I raise the price on them when they don’t want to pay $2? I really want to know this so I can earn money for my art. :( I don’t think I’m that bad of an artist, really, so why no earnings for it?
Start charging more. If you undervalue yourself, so will everyone else. Potential clients don’t take you seriously if your prices are so low. They want to feel like they’re getting something of value, and if you only value it $2, they’ll think they’re only getting $2 worth of art, and most won’t bother.
Think of it like grocery shopping. There are the shoplifters who want all their groceries for free. Forget those guys. Now, you’re looking at the milk case. Most of the milk is $4/gallon. It’s a little steep, but you need milk, so you grab it. But next to it, there’s a gallon of milk for 50 cents. Your first thought is probably going to be:
"What’s wrong with it?"
Things that are drastically undervalued make people wary. The milk might be just fine. It might be a special promotion for a new brand that wants to get its name out there. But what grocery shoppers are going to think is that it’s about 5 seconds away from the point where you have to chew it it’s so spoiled.
True story: my dad used to charge way less for his construction work than what it was worth. He got a fair amount of clients, but a lot of them were horrible, and a lot of them refused to pay even the little amount he charged them. He was hit by a semi truck, and had to stop working for a while. When he returned to work, he decided to raise his prices. By a lot. (Getting hit by a semi gives you a kind of IDGAF attitude.) Not only did he actually get more clients than before, he got better clients. He had more work than he knew what to do with. Because he valued himself what he was worth, and suddenly, so did other people.
(Also, don’t give a client the finished work until they’ve paid you. Get half the money up front, and half upon completion. Keeps you from getting cheated.)